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26th Jun 2017

How I learned to stop parenting from a place of fear

Fear, like love, is a feeling that keeps human beings alive.

Alison Bough

parent fear

Fear, like love, is a feeling that keeps human beings alive.

parenting from fear anxiety mindful parenting mindfulness

As parents, we naturally teach our kids many things, and one of them is fear. A necessary form of protection, yet a place that we must avoid parenting from lest it become our children’s home.

Fear is crippling, and when it comes to parenting the list of things that terrify us is endless. Hands up if you’ve ever been afraid that something bad might happen to your child, that your parenting style will mess them up for life, that you’ll make all the same mistakes as your own parents, that you won’t be able to protect them all the time?

The last one is the most raw fear of them all, because it’s also the truth; you won’t be able to. If your go-to thoughts focus only on what could go wrong, on what you can stop from happening, or on what you don’t want for your child, you are parenting from a place of fear. This place prevents you from being in the present moment and, more often than not, stops you from enjoying your child and your life.

Leaving that place can take a lifetime of practice but it is possible. Professor of medicine and zen guru, Jon Kabat-Zinn, describes mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way – on purpose, in the present moment, non judgmentally.” Mindful parenting is simply extending that to being present both with ourselves and our child, in the moment and away from fear; it pretty much changed my whole life.

Being a parent is a life-enhancing experience, but it’s also a stressful experience. Mindful parenting has taught me to stop, take a breath, and observe what I feel, and how my child might be feeling in any given moment. It has allowed me to connect with my kids in a much calmer way and has allowed us to respond to each other differently.

I learned that children are not naturally fearful. In fact, they are probably the most naturally mindful people on earth. Young children are focused on their senses, on what they see and what they feel, their bodies and minds are organically connected in a mindful way. As a grownup you have the power to join them in that powerful way of being.

So, the next time you parent from fear, remind yourself that you have the power to leave that place. You won’t look back, I promise.