It’s been awhile since I got to post on Unschooling; job has been crazy, hubby working out of state, and I’m jumping back into my first love: Fiction (check out my short-short story Peace if you want to take a tour of my darker side).
And speaking of writing, today’s title is brought to you by the Foundation for the Promotion of Proper Comma Usage. As you can see, today’s post is not about fearing the enemy of happiness, but rather about how fear is the enemy of happiness.
Thank you, commas!
If I had to guess (and I guess I’ll have to), I’d say 99.99999% of the fear I experience as a parent comes from focusing on the adult I want to create instead of the child I have. When I’m thinking how this moment’s actions will be translated down the road into either a successful adult with a well cared for family and a retirement plan, or a loser living in my basement until I die of humiliation at the ripe old age of “god-I-can’t-believe-he’s-still-there.”
But that’s so unfair to our kids! Imagine if every time you or I sat down to indulge in something - book reading, a TV show, Facebook, whatever – our spouse began to panic that we weren’t taking life seriously enough. Imagine living all of life as though you are being weighed and measured and found wanting enough to strike fear into your most beloved family member’s heart. That must be what it is like for our children when we spend our time fretting that they aren’t doing enough of the right things to reassure us of their future success.
That is NOT the macaroni necklace of a future Harvard grad, Suzy
Choosing to be in the moment with my children has shifted my parenting away from fear and toward a life full of joy. I needed to stop seeing my role as that of molding my children into an end product that I believed they "had" to be in order to "succeed" in the world. I stopped making choices that I believed would create happy adults ten years down the road regardless of how unhappy we would be on the journey, and started making choices that brought happiness right now.
When the "what-ifs" creep in – as they are wont to do - I sometimes take a deep breath and remind myself that even if all of the alarmists are right, how likely is it that today will be the day that – say – my kid develops Diabetes? Like, from this very cookie? Or that this would be the very last day my son could possibly start studying calculus - instead of playing League of Legends - if he’s ever going to master it? I choose again and again to embrace the joy those cookies or computer games bring and wait. I watch to see how our lives progress in spite of the chaos wrought by unfettered cookie access.
Just some foolhardy parents who didn't believe in limiting Capri Suns
Sometimes I remind myself - as an example - that even diabetes can be corrected with proper medical treatment and habit changes. On the other hand, I know from experience a childhood without trust and emotional closeness - a childhood filled with have-tos, never-cans, arbitrary rules, unrealistic expectations, and focused like a laser beam on what was presented as the drudgery of Becoming An Adult rather than the joy of exploration and discovery and love and safety - can leave deep and lasting pain that no prescription can fix. Maybe I have bad vision from reading in the dark or too many hours on ‘electronics’, but I can put on glasses and instantly have 20/20 vision. Even with years of therapy or medications or whatever the "experts" recommend for repairing emotional damage these days, I will never have back those years to relive as a happy, comfortable, trusting child.
The instinct to worry and to want to protect our children is not only normal, but noble. In no way am I suggesting we ignore the protective instinct, but it’s definitely time we redirected it. As parents of a new, better-informed generation, let’s protect our children not only from real, valid dangers (a good example would be that I don't let my kids fill the coal hopper without a dust mask); let us also protect them from the pale facsimile of life that unreasonable fear can lead us to impose upon them.
And this guy... Definitely protect them from this guy right here
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