A friend recently shared a parenting blog post entitled, "Don't Parent from Fear." I smiled when I read the title, assuming I knew exactly what the author was going to say...
We all have seen mothers on the playground shriek when their little one trips. We have heard fathers debating the merits of an emergency room visit every time a child coughs or reaches for her ear. We know parents who refuse to let their kiddo splash in a puddle lest they contract the norovirus. I offer these examples not to pass judgment - if I have learned one thing in my 2.5 years of parenting it is not to criticize a fellow mama! - but my husband and I have taken a decidedly non-alarmist approach to raising our babe.
We have gone out of our way to NOT overreact when she falls and skins a knee. We let her run fast, climb walls, and walk ahead of us on the city sidewalks. Yes, this has led to bumps, bruises, and tears along the way, but it has also (so far) yielded a brave and adventurous child.
As I read the post, however, my ego deflated. The fear referenced by the author had nothing to do with being overly cautious. Instead, she spoke of fear that our children won't thrive or be successful in the world's eyes. Fear that they will choose a dangerous path - or simply a path other than what we envision. Fear that we will fail them by getting it wrong. Fear that we can't give them enough love or attention or resources.
I have felt all of these fears - and more. And they extend far beyond parenting. If I am being honest, I have to admit I have allowed fear to pervade nearly every area of my life. At various times in my life I have allowed fear of the unknown to hold me back from trying new things. I have allowed fear of others' opinions to stop me from sharing a different perspective. I have allowed fear of failure to keep me from pursuing a passion.
In recognizing the prevalence and poignance of these fears, I can see how they have, at times, prevented me from living a full and fulfilled life. And that is not what I want for my daughter...or myself. So I am pulling the mask off this boogeyman once and for all. I am committing to acknowledge - and rise above - my fears. I will allow - even encourage - myself to look foolish, sound inexpert, and feel silly.
Where have you allowed fears to hold you back from living fully? How can you overcome them and live more authentically?
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