Parenting without Fear
Updated: Apr 19
“The fastest way to break the cycle of perfectionism and become a fearless mother is to give up the idea of doing it perfectly – indeed to embrace uncertainty and imperfection”
- Arianna Huffington
We have said many times that we all have our own unique model of the world, which is made up as a result of our experiences of being parented, our experiences in life and our genetic blueprint.
This is conditioning.
When we are born, we are whole and perfect. We are ‘just as nature intended.’ We are however, also born with a drive to survive at all costs. This means that we are hardwired to seek first attention and then approval, affection, and love. These things are the opposite of abandonment. We need them because if we are abandoned as infants, we will not survive. To this end during childhood, we allow ourselves to become moulded into an ‘accepted’ model of Self. Any characteristic that meets with outside approval is honed and exaggerated and becomes a label that we actively accept, and anything that meets with disapproval becomes rejected and locked away as part of our Shadow. Shadow work is a profound practice which offers immense personal growth. For more about Shadow Work, see the following article:
Within our model of the world, we hold core beliefs about the Self. These are many, but the two negative core beliefs common to all of us are:
I am not worthy/good enough
I am broken/defective/not whole
Throughout life we are driven by fearful thoughts that support these negative beliefs. When we strive to move away from them, we encounter resistance because, whilst they are negative, they are a place of safety. If we accept that they are true, we cannot fall any further; we know where we are.
It is this philosophy which leads us to believe that each of us has been profoundly affected by what was said to us as children.
It is also the awful realisation of this fact that leads us as parents to feel a huge weight of responsibility.
When we teach these principles in training, we can always sense the trepidation with which our delegates take on these ideas, especially in terms of what it means for their children.
When we know how much weight our words towards our children carries, we can become fearful. As we know from the cognitive behavioural cycle, thoughts about getting it wrong will lead to feelings of paralysing fear, which will, in turn drive compensatory behaviours.
In an environment where we are aiming to nurture our own personal growth and resilience, we can suddenly come upon this as an obstacle, moving straight into fearful thoughts of having made terrible mistakes in parenting and consequently scarred our beloved children irreparably.
Where our children are concerned, whatever we do carries immense amounts of emotional weight for us because of how we feel about them. We can feel huge amounts of guilt when, with hindsight, we see that we have acted unconsciously in anger or irritation.
We feel this because it confirms those negative core beliefs.
This can lead to parenting from a place of fear
- Fear of not being good enough
- Fear of not being capable
When we parent from a place of fear our judgement is distorted. The compensatory behaviour that results can often be no better for the child than the original one.
For this reason, it is not appropriate to admonish Self in hindsight. We did the best that we could, with the information that we had at the time.
We must remember that it is not what happens to our children but how they respond to it that matters.
The truth is that we can never know how our children will respond to our words. We can only imagine, and this is based our experience and on how we would have responded if those words had been said to us. This is our stuff and not theirs.
When we are in communication with our children, the best thing that we can do is to remain conscious. If we are provoked, we can press pause. We can gratefully notice that we have been triggered and, we can consciously choose whether to go ahead with the response that comes automatically, to remain silent or to choose a differently worded response.
Children take from our behaviour their own unique set of lessons. These are not the lessons that we imagine they will be when we parent.
If we proceed in a conscious way, with kindness towards the Self and communicate with our children openly and with love and humour, we can sustain healthy fulfilling relationships without putting our own sense of worth at stake.
It is our intention to write more articles about parenting to support our community.
We are also considering setting up a supportive Facebook group where advice and experiences can be shared on this subject.
If this is of particular interest to you, and you would like to see more, please do not hesitate to get in touch and tell us what kind of support would work for you.
For more insights about conditioning and the cognitive behavioural cycle see ‘How to Rise’