Fearful parenting is pretty common these days. After all, there are a lot of things that cause us as parents to be afraid for our kids.
Sending your child into the world, whether it’s to daycare or go off to college is hard for parents. It’s the whole letting go struggle that causes parents a lot of fear.
I see lots of memes on facebook about the good ole days when kids played outside all day, without fear, drinking from hoses and riding their bikes up and down the street. But the realities of today’s news causes many parents to over-react and resort to keeping their kids in a protective bubble-type lifestyle.
The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy published a report by family therapist Lisa Pisha that notes children naturally have their own fears, which can be compounded when a parent is fearful. “Studies show that our acquisition of fears and their negative influence is determined by what our parents have modeled for us. We learn how to handle fear and what to be afraid of from our family.
The impacts the report notes include more time indoors, isolation, avoidance and depression, among others.**
One 2018 studyTrusted Source states that parental control from parents who are parenting out of their fears can result in depression, anxiety, eating disorders, behavior problems, and substance abuse. The chances are pretty good that if you are full of anxiety, you will pass that on to your kids.
Kids who are suffocated by fearful parenting tend to rebel more to the over-controlling.
Kids whose parents are fearful are often not allowed to experiment, take risks or even make mistakes.
Of course, parents must exercise caution and wisdom when it comes to the safety of their kids. But so many of our fears are based on “what-ifs” and on thinking of the worst thing that could happen. If we lived by that philosophy, we’d never fly in an airplane or drive a car.
Parents, let’s examine our fears. Are they based on truth or imagination? Is there a solid reason that a child should not be allowed to do something? I remember that my mother always warned us about doing things because of one story in the news. We should not burden our kids with our fears. They will develop their own without any help from us!
Train yourself to not parent in fear by:
- Learning to keep your many fears to yourself. Don’t burden your kids with them.
- Determining what is simply fear and what is FACT.
- Letting your kids take risks and learn to overcome struggles.
- Asking if your child’s decision will bring harm to them or others and/or is it age-appropriate?
- Recognizing what you can and cannot control.
- Talking with someone who can help you process and see things more clearly.
Parents worry because they love their children and want to protect them from harm and hurt. But training yourself to not parent out of fear will decrease your personal anxiety and the anxiety of your kids.
If you struggle with fearful parenting, and would like help, I am a certified parenting coach. Please schedule a free consult here.