Are You Parenting From Love or Fear?

parenting Apr 11, 2018

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 Hey Dethroning Tribe!

This weeks message is a special shout out to all you parents out there. As parents, we dream about who our children are going to be, how they might be like us, how they might be different from us, and how we can raise them to be happy and successful in life.  While this dreaming is a normal part of parenthood, many of us wake up one day only to realize that our children are just different than what we expected.  

Because we have expectations of who we want our children to be, and how we want them to behave in their lives, when they don’t fit this picture, we may automatically react from a place of trying to fix or change them to fit our expectations. If we can’t fix or change them, we may feel that we have failed as a parent, or are not doing a good enough job in raising our children. And as our children continue to grow, our fear of messing them up can continue to grow, too. Sound familiar? You are definitely not alone!

Are you parenting from love or from fear?

Spoiler alert, all of us parent from fear some of the time.  What we’re talking about here is parenting from fear while being on autopilot.  By bringing awareness to your automatic fear, you get to choose where you’re coming from at any given moment.  

What does it look like to parent from fear?  Parenting from fear includes attempting to manage and control what your child is doing, how she is behaving, how he spends his time.  Parenting from fear includes wanting your child to do things a certain way, be involved in certain activities (possibly those you were involved in yourself as a kid or those that “all the other kids” are into) so that your child is accepted, well liked, and never feels disappointed or hurt.  Parenting from fear means giving validity to your most extreme thoughts about how your child might or might not turn out, even if you aren’t fully aware that you’re having these thoughts.

Example - My child got a 71% on her math test this week.  Her grades are going to continue to decline and she will feel so badly about herself that she won’t want to go school anymore.  She will go from a happy-go-lucky kid to a depressed teenager. I better fix this for her. Time to call a new math tutor and get her into therapy!  And maybe I’ll take her out for a special treat after school if she’s feeling really low.

Yes, our children absolutely need us to guide them and to be role models.  They simply need us to do this from love, not from fear.

When we parent from fear, we are allowing our Inner Critic to be in charge.  

We can safely say that if you’re part of our Tribe, you love your kids dearly.  So why would you parent from a place other than love?  Why would you parent from your Inner Critic?  The answer is simple and shows up time and time again in our work with clients.  

The way we over-parent is a reflection of our own fears and insecurities, which are driven by our Inner Critic.  When we are blind to the voice of our Inner Critic, we may think we are parenting from love, but instead we are parenting from our fear of who we are and who we are not, and our fear of who our child is and who our child is not.  

How can you parent from love more often?

If your child came with a handbook, we would recommend that you whip it out right about now!   But alas, that handbook doesn’t exist. So instead, we offer you this from Dr. Dan Seigel:

“The best predictor of a child’s well-being is a parent’s self-understanding.”  

Said another way, you must be willing to get intimately familiar with yourself and your Inner Critic.  Then go beyond just understanding yourself, and begin to practice self-acceptance and self-love. Only when you begin to have compassion for your own humanity can you begin to have room for your child’s humanity.  Only then can you accept your child for who he is and only then can you help her where she needs your support. Allowing your child to work things out on his own, and to learn that his mistakes are a part of his growth and development are critical life lessons.  Talk to your child with the same love and respect that you might use with a friend. With our own self-acceptance and self-love, we are finally able to accept our children’s difficult emotions, value them for their differences and not take the ups and downs of parenting so personally.  


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