Fearless Parenting

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.

Many blessings,

11 thoughts on “Fearless Parenting

  1. LOVE this post. My own parenting was greatly influenced by the helicopter parenting that I saw in my peers’ parents when I was a teenager. I thought it had only negative results.

  2. wow. thank you. so much truth in here and so many of my fears called out and named. when, as an adult we’ve seen so much pain it’s hard to not hurt in advance for the pain that our child will inevitably deal with being this side of heaven (and yet hasn’t that pain made me stronger?). So good to remember that ALL things can be redeemed.
    Can you talk more about not “solving our children’s feelings”? I KNOW that…teaching them how what to do with feelings, and empathy makes it so tempting and hard not to…make sadness or fear go away….I’d love to hear practical ideas of how that looks….like the “mama, I don’t want you to go down stairs, I don’t want to go to sleep….” Breaks my heart. I usually do a “i have to brush my teeth, I’ll be back” and she’s asleep when I come back, but it feels like a lie or manipulation…..
    Thanks for sharing you insight and His truth. God works ALL things together for the good of those who love him.

  3. Great post. I’ve been thinking about this idea a lot lately, especially about how it relates to our assessments of risk. Or really, our lack of assessing risk appropriately. Often we are fearful we are letting our children do things like climb trees, etc., yet many of us buckle them in the car everyday, or more than once a day. I

  4. Likewise- Really appreciated this post Carrie and thought how well it ties into the theme of Michaelmas. I was inspired to write a post myself on this topic as a result and look forward to sharing with my families in the meantime. Thanks so much- Danielle

  5. Dear Carrie,
    I was very pleased to read your post about fear-fearlessness. This is such an important issue! Too much of the worlds is governed by fear — and it really cripples budding souls like children, and makes life lonely and sour for adults. Like Scrooge’s world.
    Courage to be positive and trust the future, the invisible realities which are so there to help us –moms especially! :)– this is not easy to develop. But even small steps matter.
    For example our 5and a half year old son started riding his bike to the nearby bakery this summer to get us treats, sweat bread, and such things. It is a dirt road with tons of dogs that bark at him and then a bit of paved road too where cars drive as well. He has been so thankful, responsible and serious, as well as elevated how big he has become that we allow him to go there alone. Nothing bad has ever happened to him — I have gotten compliments from the ladies in the bakery. They are happy too see his smile and parttake in his courageous deed of shopping alone.
    So, yes, we must learn to trust the unkown.
    love from eszter, hungary.

    • Ezter,
      I am thrilled to hear from you over in Hungary! I have a small but dedicated group of Hungarian readers so welcome! Helicopter parenting is this very unfortunate practice in the US of parents stepping in when they should be letting go, mainly in the teenaged and college aged years and taking over what their children should be taking responsibility for themselves. For example, if they get a bad grade, the parent might call the teacher and take the child’s side that the teacher was unfair or something. I am certain my readers can come up with more (sadly) examples of this. It is unfortunate and much of American parenting I feel is backward right now – pushing independence with infants and toddlers, and tightly controlling things or being their children’s friends when their children need an adult authority to help them. Hopefully there is a turning tide in America right now though, with parents returning to a better approach in parenting. One must always be hopeful!
      Many blessings to you, thank you for reading!

  6. Your sentence about not acting as though we shall be ripped apart from our children any moment really resonated with me. Sometimes my time with my young children feels so precious, and as their mother I feel so irreplaceable, that it prevents me from taking time for my own endeavours which I sadly miss. A friend reminded me that it’s good and beneficial for children to see a parent take time for their own exercise, leisure pursuits, etc. (of course not to a selfish degree)

    • Jaimie
      YES! Our children are lovely and the time is precious, but I think we can quickly cross the line toward coming from a fearful place if we are not careful. There is all the time we need, and our children are separate individuals from us who have their own work to do as they discover the plan for their life.

      Challenging and true. 🙂
      Many blessings,

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