Fear in parenting

I don’t think I have ever experienced fear like I have since having children! I am sure that if you are also a parent you can understand my sentiments. Our children are priceless! Not like in the credit card commercial, or describing a gem or piece of art. I am saying that my children’s lives are worth more than my own life twice, no, three times over, without question! So, when any thought of threat to their physical, emotional, and spiritual well being, my heart starts beating fast, my brain goes into fight or flight, and I’m a mama bear ready to rip every single hair out of the threats head one at a time….ok a little graphic, but the point is don’t mess with a mama bear people!!!

These thoughts come rushing to me while sitting in my bed, trying to unwind for the night, and I look at the transients that occasionally slip into bed with me and my husband. I turn to one side and I have my 3 year old son in the fetal position, which is only one of hundreds of sleeping positions my lil helicopter sleeps in! And on the other side is my 7 year old who just lost her other front tooth making her the poster child for the song “all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!” Watching them sleep makes me forget about all the chaos and defiance that may have happened even an hour ago, and fills me with love without bounds. It takes just reading a news article, or hearing something on the radio for me to realize that my kids are NOT safe in this world, that NOT everyone values them the way I do, and there is a battle for their souls already underway!

This understanding brings an almost paralyzing fear, a sense of hopelessness and despair. But I go to my therapeutic training, I can choose to linger in the fear or take steps of action. Each thought I have, I have a choice: do I stay or do I move? This brings to mind the story of Jesus calling to Peter to take the steps out of the boat and to walk on the water. Fear is a powerful emotion, and I can only imagine Peter felt it. Peter had a choice to make, “do I stay, or do I move?”

Fear in itself is NOT a bad thing. But, on occasion fear in parenting can negatively impact a lot of the choices you make. From not allowing them to go outside for fear they will get hurt, to allowing your teen and their friends to drink beer at your house for fear they will just do it at someone else’s. Fear can make your parenting style either liberal or conservative because you don’t want to “mess up your kids like your parents did you!” Fear can shelter your kids from “the world” to only not prepare them for it, or provide no moral direction so they can find their own individuality. And fear can destroy your joy, your peace, your contentment, your relationships, your identity, your soul!

How can fear be a good thing? It can motivate you, encourage you to move! In this series I want to explore how we can use fear to make us better parents! We will use the energy that we would use to defeat a whole army on behalf of our kids, to be Pro-Active as parents and to be Re-Active more efficiently.

So the question still stands? Do you stay or will you move?

Paige Clingenpeel

Teen Therapist working with teens and parents on TV, Radio, Web-Based Media, Blogs, and Print. Presently a monthly contributor to the women's parenting & marriage site iMom.com, and host of TBN's Tween show iShine K'Nect. Paige also provides individual therapy at LifeSprings Counseling Center, and works at Parkview Health as a student assistant counselor assigned to Carroll High School. Paige is married to Ryan and has two daughters and two sons!