I wrote this shortly after we’d arrived back to the US from Switzerland. Being here I realized how much parenting in the US is driven by fear. Fear of what could happen. Fear of what will happen.
So I wrote How to Parent Bravely in a Culture of Fear. I hope it resonates with you, too.
I long, in a romantic, nostalgic way, for the days of my childhood.
Running in open fields. Biking down the road with my friends. Building forts and dams down by the creek. Camping in the woods. With nary an adult in sight.
But that nostalgic longing isn’t about me. I am sad my kids can’t experience the wild freedom of my childhood.
And why can’t I give my kids have that same carefree childhood that I had?
I fear for my children. For their safety. I fear that they will be kidnapped. Hit by a car. Harmed by doing something because they didn’t think through to their consequences. I fear the consequences will be more than I can bear.
Parenting isn’t for wimps. It is soul-wrenchingly awful to let your heart out of your body and go walking around where you have no control and can’t protect it.
Before I had even realized it, I had forgotten the carefree joys of my childhood. And had turned into a clichéd helicopter parent.
I would strive to shield them from all consequences. I would hold their hands tightly as we crossed any street. I would stop them just as they were about to jump off the playground equipment, a mere 2 feet in the air.
It takes a lot of guts and bravery to let our children go and live their lives. I used to think that moving across the country alone with 2 suitcases, no job, and $1000 was the bravest thing I ever did.
Nope. Now I realize, that pales in comparison to parenting.
Parenting has been the scariest thing I’ve ever attempted. I think I was more terrified than my kids on their first day of pre-school. And that was only the start!
I couldn’t keep going down that path though. Because soon I realized, as kids grow older, so do the number of things I could be scared of. Continuing down that path of fearful parenting would someday have lead me to a nervous breakdown.
I chose to learn how to parent bravely. It hasn’t always been easy. And it’s a conscious effort. Here are 4 key things I learned along the way.