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I remember being that woman who had just recently found out, she was going to be a mum. On coming to understand the implications of this 'lifechanging event' what do I do? I feel inexplicable, irrational, unexplained 'fear' rather than just happiness. There were plenty of doubts that rose in my mind, and I didn't realize that it was only the start.
What is this growing inside of me?
Have I made the right decision in bringing a child into this world?
Will he/she turn out to be better than me? Will I bring up the child with the right values?
If pre-pregnancy threw up some, post pregnancy threw up a whole lot more.
Was I feeding the baby properly, was she sleeping well, was she crying properly?
Which cry meant hunger and which one discomfort!
Questions, and doubts, and uncertainties and dread.
Doctors visits were the worst, always anxious to find out whether the baby's weight matched the records, whether the continuous vomiting meant that more food had to be given, so on and so forth.
The other day too I was playing out a new set of woes in my head (yes, in the middle of work, I do seem to find time to do this), and it hit me!
I suddenly realized what was common in this entire train of thoughts!! I realized what most of my mommy friends seemed to be going through every step of the way............It was 'FEAR'.
Yes, fear of our children's well being, fear that their needs were not being adequately met with, fear of the challenges they would encounter in school and outside it......fear that was magnifying unseen and non-existent issues, and problems in our children.
Why are we parents prone to feeling so much fear? Why do we always create something out of nothing? Why do we imagine and conjure situations that have not yet occurred?
Most of it stems out of love, of course! Yet, when you actually look at it, this fear is only crippling us and our children in the long run, don't you think? It doesn't serve any purpose, if we fear a situation that may or may not arise. Fear, like stress, kills love, kills the pride we feel in our children. It undermines the way we bring them up, makes us question our parenting process, leaves us crippled and unable to focus on our primary goal, of 'nurturing' our child.
It took me a long while to figure this out, manage this fear; to not allow doctors visits, relatives well meaning, yet unsolicited advice and my own thoughts 'in overdrive' affect me.
Yet sometimes, I still find myself succumbing to this irrational fear.
And so I have tried, to reason with myself, why I experience this and how to overcome this negative (yes, fear is NOT ALWAYS GOOD) mindset.
There was a Forbes article I read online discussing this, how we as parents damage our kids, and how our actions are guided by 'well intentioned' but 'misplaced and unreasonable' fear.
According to this article, the parenting process comes from a place of love. Yet in loving our child beyond belief, we can also inadvertently stifle them and their growth.
This seemingly harmless 'fear' has many subtle yet harmful effects;
* When we fear, we do not allow kids to experience risks - 'Fight or Flight' is a normal human response. Very few fight, many often fly away from a situation. Rather than letting kids choose for themselves, we often make the choice for them. Our fear for their safety, makes us keep them away from experiences, and also makes us limit their choices. Risk taking is essential, but how many of us let our children take risks?
If a child never experiences hurt or failure, he will never know what it feels like when something actually happens. When presented with a situation of failure, children may be unable to cope and break down or resort to easy, but harmful ways to stay afloat, or even suffer from depression (which often goes unrecognized). Children need to fall, get hurt, try and fail. This will give them the experience and maturity to deal with bigger problems on their own, at a later stage in life. If we remove risks from our kid's lives, we are creating situations for them to experience low self esteem, and consequent low self worth.
* When we fear, we help too quickly - Isn't it difficult to watch your toddler struggle to put morsels of food into their mouth, and rush to help them? I've been there, done that and totally guilty of the same. Now that I think long and hard about it, isn't this a wrong approach? When we jump in to help too quickly, indulge them with our assistance, we also teach them that they can't solve their problems themselves, reiterating the fact that they are basically useless.
Children need to be taught that trying is better than not doing anything at all, that there will NOT always be help in life, that they need to depend on themselves first before being dependent on others. By getting ourselves too involved in everything that they do, completing their tasks for them, we are teaching them to blame their shortcomings on others. We teach them to give up easily and never go the whole way. Don't we all know that life does not always pan out as expected?
* When we fear, we say 'yes' to their every 'want' - As parents we love them, don't want them to be in pain or hardship. But too much of 'yes', like too much sugar, causes more harm than good. Rewarding kids for every little thing has become the norm. Blame it on our affordability or as a way to compensate for the less time we give them, we as parents, do tend to over-indulge. Giving them what they ask for may make them happy in the short term, but wouldn't denying them make them value things even more?
Children will be disappointed, yes. They will be angry too, for sure! But, they will get over it eventually and learn a life lesson in the process. Fear blunts our parental reasoning, and although done in good faith, giving children whatever they ask for every time, is only going to cripple them for life.