The Danger of Raising Your Children in Fear.Anja van Kralingen
When I was in labour with my second child I was terrified. My firstborn was a ceaser because she was breach and I was determined to have natural birth this time around. My Gyne was really cross about it and tried to bully me, but I was insistent.
It was probably the most traumatic and painful experience I have ever lived through.
My third child’s birth was also natural, but this time I was like Superwoman. I breathed through the pain and delivered an abnormally happy baby. (referring here to heartrate and other indicators )
The midwife was uber impressed.
Why was I able to do it again and better?
Because the second time around, I knew what to expect and I was not afraid.
Fear is the most paralyzing, painful and debilitating emotion.
Evil all around us?
When I was a young woman, I went to visit a relative who had two small sons. She told me at the time that they were not allowed to watch anything on TV with martial arts in it, so no Power Rangers, Ninja turtles etc. Why?
It was evil.
Never mind that this is absolute nonsense, I was stunned that someone would consciously raise their children in fear. She was sending her children a message ‘ to be afraid of the world, because evil lurks in it everywhere. Anticipate evil in everything and everyone. Albert Einstein said that one of the most important questions you will ever ask is whether the universe is a friendly place.
I don’t want my children to be paralyzed by fear. So I have made a conscious effort in raising my children differently. To teach them that pain is ok, it happens and it doesn’t have to be traumatic.
First hand experience
When Ruarc was a toddler, he was terrified of everything. He was constantly holding onto me afraid and crying. Someone mentioned to me to play courage games with him, and being Jungian, I thought it was a fabulous idea. So I started chasing him through the house, sometimes a wolf, sometimes a vampire, etc.
Is my approach working?
I would say so. My 5 year old recently needed a deep filling in his tooth. The dentist suggested theater. I had done that before with my daughter. It was an incredibly unpleasant experience, so I suggested an injection and asked Ruarc if he was ok with that. He said sure and the dentist injected him. He never even flinched (I was terrified). The dentist was astounded.
I had a similar experience with my 4 year old. He had an accident and ended up with a deep cut on his hairline. GP suggested theater. I said let’s ask him if he will accept injections. Teague received 6 injections in his head! I had to tell him his favourite story to distract myself.The GP had never seen anything like it before.
Now, I am not saying that fear won’t eventually surface, but I believe that they will handle it well. It won’t be debilitating or paralyzing.
How did I do it?
Anthroposophically speaking, you are the child’s ego until they develop their own as a teenager. Children learn behavior by observing you. If your child falls down and you become hysterical, trust me, your child will become hysterical whenever they hurt themselves. Similarly, if you react to disappointment verbally or emotionally, so will they.
So from little, when they fell down, I would look at them and smile at them. I would kiss the sore better and acknowledge that it was sore, but just that. I never gave accidents attention or spoke about how sore it was at length. I don’t indulge pain or fear. It just is, and it passes.
Everyone has a need to sometimes howl and scream and gnash their teeth. That is ok, we all have bad days. But don’t impose your bad moods and noise pollution on the other people in the household. Stop howling and talk to me, or go to your room. But when you have calmed down, you can come back and join us and there will be no reprimands, guilt or judgment.
Indulging children’s screaming and crying, is submitting them to absolutely unnecessary trauma. The child loses control over themselves and is overwhelmed by fear and/or negative emotion. What purpose does that serve? How is this helping the child at all? They are taught a pattern of behaviour and response to pain and resistance that will be extremely difficult to overcome when they grow up.
What children need is love, respect, attention, lots of praise, hugs, kindness, understanding and above all acceptance. These are the qualities you want them to internalize as they grow older.
I feel strongly that it is my responsibility as a parent to prepare my children for the journey of self discovery which will require courage, self discipline and self love.
And although my children are not perfect (they are complete hooligans actually ) I know that what I am giving them is an attitude towards life that will help them achieve self fulfillment and meaning.
I leave you with a wonderful quote.
It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself. ~Joyce Maynard
Until next time.
Ps. If you enjoyed this article, I’m sure you will enjoy 5 Building Blocks to Healthy Loving.