Fearless parenting means seeing that the world is a good place and being able to unequivocally transmit this to our children. Things may happen in life, things may happen in parenting, and yet things work out. Life moves and the Creator is in the eddies and tidepools of the Cosmos.
If you think you are a fearless parent yet constantly have a barrage of how things “have” to be, if you think your child needs a perfect childhood with no stress in order to achieve being an optimal adult, if things are so carefully orchestrated and everything has to be just so, then I would still say you are parenting out of fear and not being fearless.
Being fearless in parenting does not mean that we don’t protect our children, or that we throw our small children out to the wolves. No We do our best.. But this does mean that we establish communities of trust, that we trust and have an inherent sense that new experiences for our children will be good. We also trust that our children will do the right thing as they grow into independence. We are there to help, to encourage, to support, that we guide, but we cannot walk this journey for our children. They have come here with their own gifts, their own talents from God, and He has a plan for their lives in His infinite wisdom that shall be good.
This sense of goodness is based upon reverence. Reverence is well-established not only through a religious life, but through the way we play out our own feelings of gratitude and our own feelings of awe and wonder at the world. Many parents have awe and wonder at their children; this is healthy and normal I think! However, we need to be careful to not put such a huge emphasis on how precious our time is with our children, as if we will be ripped apart from them tomorrow, but to instead demonstrate the confident assurance that part of the progression of life is that our children step in to their own experiences, their own feelings, and take responsibility for their own actions and in how their actions affect others.
We cannot solve our children’s feelings, whether the feelings are of frustration from a toddler, boredom from a six-year-old, melancholy from a teenager. These feelings belong to them, and whilst we can be there to support and guide and channel energies, as children grow they must make their own way in dealing with their own fears, their own feelings, and their own experiences in their own time if you, as a parent, can just step aside a bit. Give them a little space and observe from the side, approach things from the side, and stop talking so much. The new generation of helicopter parenting of teenagers and college-aged students, many would argue, has not improved the responsibility-taking or maturity of these children but rather delayed the right action these children should be learning to take.
My oldest daughter is ten, and I think about how I essentially have eight years to guide her and help her toward maturity, independence, right action, and the myriad of skills she will need to learn to function on her own in the world without me by her side. At this point she already has a foundation to build upon, and I think one sees the inklings of this in general beginning especially at the developmental changes around six and seven, leading into the teenaged years. What kind of adult will my child grow up to be, and how can I support but yet relax into this?
Parenting is a challenging task in learning how to balance protection and nurturing with increasing independence for the seven year old and up. This may occur in small instances at first, such as in cooking or baking or responsibility in chores, and slowly build up to greater and bigger things. To approach this with joy and steady assurance in place of fear or sadness is of utmost importance.
Tune into your own heart: am I guiding my child through fear of the world or through knowing the world is a good place with good things in it and good people? Never naïve, but also knowing that things are good and people triumph even in the worst of circumstances. Family, community, faith, bringing the right things in at the right time, bridging the gaps between us with love, love above all, and having fun…my definition of goodness in the world.