25. Will They Be OK? Moving Through Our Own Fear As Parents
When our kids head back to school, it is a time of transition. New teachers, new friends. And there’s still all of the COVID nonsense to navigate.
Today we’re talking about fear as our kids are back in school.
When I use the word "fear", I'm including worry, anxiety, stress, and even guilt. So know that I’m using it as an umbrella term because all of these feelings have an undercurrent of fear.
Just because you’re not panicking, doesn’t mean you’re not experiencing fear.
You might be crossing your fingers and hoping that your son will fit in and find some good friends. This is a form of worry, which is a form of fear because you’re concerned and you really want this for him.
Some good friends is a perfectly reasonable thing to want for your child and upon closer reflection, you may notice you want this for him because you’re worried about what his life would be like or what his experience at school will be like if he doesn’t find friends.
When we’re attached to an outcome there’s usually an undercurrent of fear. In this case, we believe he won’t have a good time if he doesn’t have good friends.
Other possible outcomes we might be attached to would be things like getting good grades, not getting in trouble, wanting your child to be nice to others, or wanting others to be nice to them.
We’re attached to a specific outcome because of the meaning we attach to it and the beliefs we’ve formed around it.
We believe that getting good grades means our child will be more successful down the road, or at least they’re not falling behind.
We believe that not getting into trouble (or following the rules and being good) will make their life easier.
We believe that our child will enjoy themselves more if others are nice to them. They won’t be lonely or feel left out.
We believe if our child is nice to others then they’re a good person. And if they’re mean to others then we almost get our backs up, like "Oh no no no.... We are NOT raising a mean child."
And now you can start to see how our attachment to these outcomes might be there because we believe they reflect on our parenting.
If our kid is good (by societal standards) then we’re good parents. If our child is bad or not meeting expectations, that means we’re bad parents.
Now, maybe you’re not as blunt with yourself and you don’t say it like that, but pay attention to your inner dialogue.
Ask yourself “Why”. Why do you want this outcome? And is your reason true? Meaning…. Is it 100% guaranteed to happen?
If your child doesn’t get a good grade, is it true that they’re falling behind? What does falling behind even mean? Whose standard are we measuring against?
Is it true that it’ll make them less successful down the road? What happens if he or she isn’t successful?
It’s funny… I remember attending a talk by a hypnotherapist many years ago and she was saying that if you dive deep enough into all of the layers of fear it all leads to death.
For example, if my child doesn't get good grades, then he won’t get into university, then he won’t get a good job. He won’t be able to support himself or be an attractive mate. He’ll be lonely and miserable and die alone.
Something like that….. This is where our mind goes!! Listen to the insanity of your thoughts and the chain of events your brain comes up with. Your brain does this at warp speed.
Your brain literally looks at your kid's math test, sees that they’ve failed, and translates this one failed math test to “my kid is going to die alone”.
Hahaha…. I know this sounds far-fetched but seriously….pay attention to your thoughts. They go to some pretty wacky places.
We don’t even realize we’re doing this. We think math is important (and there might be some validity to that argument) but most of it is not necessary to do life.
When we freak out because something happened (like a failed math test), most of us spin in worry without trying to slow it down and understand it.
Fear likes to stay general. When it’s general, it’s overwhelming.
When we dive into the specifics and ask ourselves why we’re afraid, or is what we believe true, then the fear either disappears altogether or it becomes much more manageable.
A solution is easier to find when the problem is specific. So get as specific as you can.
Don’t be afraid to sit in the fear. To become curious about it. To ask it questions.
We can confront our worst nightmares in our imagination. There’s no danger going there in our minds. What’s the worst that could happen? We cry? We have some HARD and uncomfortable, not-so-pleasant feelings?
It’s much easier to confront our fears in our minds than it is in real life. And 99% of the time, those fears don’t come into reality. This means it’s all imagination. It’s all in our heads anyways.
We may as well face the demons in our heads. So we can understand them. So we can get specific. So they dissipate.
Or so we can calm ourselves down enough to come up with a solution from a logical thinking headspace rather than from a panicked state.
I’ll leave you with this final thought.
Your fear is telling you something. And remember fear means worry, stress, anxiety, guilt…it’s telling you something.
Even if it’s just this nagging thought that keeps popping up. It’s saying “Look at me. I want your attention. I’ve got something to tell you.”
Your fear is there to help you. So turn and face it. Give it the time. Give it the attention. Listen to it to see what it wants to say, and then you can decide what to do with it.
And if you want more support in this area, I encourage you to join my parenting mastery program. SO MUCH of parenting is about dealing with your own fears and working through them.
Now, normally I would send you to my FREE webinar on getting your kids to listen so you can not only get some great tips but also hear more about the parenting mastery program, but that doesn’t seem quite fitting with today’s conversation.
So instead, feel free to send me a DM over on instagram @parentingwithlindsay and I am more than happy to chat with you about your fear, worry, guilt, etc., and help you figure out if the Parenting Mastery program is a good fit.
Until next time, Happy parenting :)
FREE Training for Moms
who are using (or trying to use) positive parenting but still find themselves using tactics they're not proud of.
How to Get Your Kids to Listen Without Yelling, Threats, or Bribes
It's OK that you're not perfect at this (no one is!). But it can get better and easier ...and it starts with this training.