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Parenting From A Place Of Fear

     Raising my son in a single-parent home for the past six years has had its ups and downs. Oftentimes, I attempted to turn his safety net into a shield from fear that he would stray too far away or make too many mistakes.  Eventually, after comparing him to myself as a child and to children that seemed to be way more independent than he was, I started to believe that maybe my methods for parenting were crippling his ability to one day become an independent and responsible adult. So, a few years ago, after moving over 60 miles away from all of our support systems, I felt an urgency to teach my son how he must begin to pull himself up by his bootstraps. It was difficult for my son to now adjust to these new mysterious parenting tactics. I realize now that I was attempting to make my son become what I believed would make him a strong enough individual to survive in society on his own and without my help. As a result, a power-struggle began to form between my son and I.  He began constantly expressing to me how much I was attempting to control him in a way that didn’t encourage him, but rather he felt frustrated and incapable of measuring up to the vision of the person I had in mind. A person that only I could see and he couldn’t.  

Eventually, I grew tired of the tug of war between the two of us and realized the importance of trusting the process of him naturally transitioning into who he is supposed to be. I realized that this did not mean removing myself as his parental guide. Instead, I had to begin relinquishing my ideals of who he was supposed to become as a person and start encouraging the strengths he already possessed. As parents, we tend to believe we see the bigger picture before our children even realize there is such a thing and sometimes it causes us to overcompensate during what really is a natural transition in the lives of our children. 

If you’re like I was during this transition, you may have found yourself parenting from a place of fear upon realizing how quickly they will soon enter adulthood. In turn, you begin placing all of the responsibility of how they turn out as a person on yourself.  Your child no longer feels that you’re helping them mold their path to life, but instead, your child may feel as if you’re controlling their path in life.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s important that our children know the role we play in providing boundaries and discipline when appropriate, but it is equally important that we encourage our children from a positive place rather than from a place of insecurity. Insecurity breeds lack of confidence in not just ourselves, but our children, when our children can otherwise be very confident individuals. So, if you’re finding that you and your child are constantly in a battle of tug of war, it may not be your child alone, but the source of the struggle may just very well be you.

If you feel like you need assistance and are struggling in this area, finding a therapist in your local community can be very helpful.