“Fear often emerges when we’re driven to keep those we love most safe.”

I saw that quote in an article recently that Sarah had shared, and it spoke to me. We often share articles with each other, because if you haven’t noticed from this column, as much as I love it, I find parenting to be hard. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And figuring out how you want to parent together with your spouse, when you both bring different life experiences to the job of raising children, doesn’t make it any easier.

It’s not that I think I’m a bad parent. I know I’m there for my family and would do anything I can for them. And I know it’s normal to have parenting fears, because there’s no manual. But I am also shaped by how I grew up and the things I experienced. At times, I wonder if I’m the best parent I can be or if I need to keep learning – while the boys do too – so my reactions are better. 

Sometimes, I’ll hear the boys playing nicely together from the other room. There won’t be anything wrong…yet. But then I’ll hear them start to disagree and raise their voices with each other. I’m immediately on alert for the next shoe to drop. Not wanting it to lead to anything more, I’ll jump in and try to solve a problem that doesn’t exist yet, even though I recognize I’m not teaching them how to work things out together and resolve whatever conflict they’re having. And sometimes, I unintentionally escalate a situation, creating an issue when I was just trying to prevent one.

I’m not even sure what I’m trying to avoid. I think I sometimes react to the perception of what I feel will become a problem based on my personal experiences, not the reality that is in front of me. And I don’t really know why. Am I afraid I’m messing up as a parent? Or that something bad could happen if I don’t jump in? Is it just the extension of me always trying to be a problem solver, because I find fighting and disagreements uncomfortable? I’m not really sure, but I definitely react quicker than Sarah does, and at times I helicopter over the boys more than I probably should. 

I do know I want them to learn how to figure things out on their own. I want them to know how to make mistakes and resolve conflict. But I sometimes find myself jumping in to help, not even giving the boys a chance to find a solution. And I’m not exactly sure why.

I don’t know if I react to the boys because of how I was with my younger brother, how often I would hurt myself when I was playing or some other reason. But I don’t want to live out those fears as a parent or pass them on to my kids. Because just a few months ago, despite the fact that I gave so many pre-emptive warnings, Brandon still broke his arm. So where did that worrying get me? I can’t shield them from everything, so what am I trying to do?

I also don’t want my fears to get in the way of me enjoying being with the boys. But if I’m always reacting to something (real or perceived), that might happen because I’m not being completely present with them.

I know if I keep worrying about what I don’t want to happen, what I hope does happen probably won’t. And if it does, would I even realize it or would I already be on to worrying about the next thing that may or may not ever happen?  It’s just an endless cycle, and that is not how I want to parent. I want to be able to enjoy the moments I have before I miss any more, because I have already seen just how fast they go.

Read More “Making Time” by Jason Springer


July 2023
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