Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rant continued.... On Teaching Fear

I recently came across these quotes which led me to challenge my parenting style of vigilant sheltering from fear and discomfort.

  • "Every time we choose safety, we reinforce fear."
  • "Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live."
  • "The greatest barrier of success is fear."

My over-protectiveness, in some likelihood, will yield results similar to the parenting style of my own parents: children who feel insecure. I feel confident in the undeniable trust and joy our boys find in our presence and touch. As a result, they are happy and relaxed and agreeable most of the time. But, what if we are implanting an unhealthy dependence of us? Until I know more, I am willing to make that gamble.

From as early as first grade, I can recall details from stories I was told and the lasting fear they instilled. In one of my mother's anecdotes, a woman woke up stroking a giant hairy spider who she had mistaken in the dark for her cat that slept beside her…just as my cat Buttons did.

On another occasion, I was called from the breakfast table to watch, as early morning news interviewed hunters clubbing baby harp seals for their soft, white, highly prized furs. I am still unable to shake the memory of their shiny black soulful eyes. Then, the shifting of the plush fur and snow from white to red while mother seals moaned and protested.

Being 5 was an unusually stressful time for me. It was the year after I was hospitalized for a coma that no one in my family knows much about except that it happened. Following the mysterious coma, we moved from New York to North Carolina. I think this year in particular marks the beginning of my observably unfortunate patterns of behavior.

This is the year we visited family in Cairo. One evening after being hungry for many hours, waiting the customary late night Egyptian dinner, I ravished several pieces of fried chicken. While stuffed and licking my fingers, my laughing family smugly announced that it was actually rabbit, not chicken. The sadness over having eaten a bunny and being tricked and being mocked was tremendous.

In this same trip, somebody, I cannot name, handled me in a way that changed me forever. I can’t recall details of this encounter so many years later. That encounter changed who I was and who I would get to be. It taught me that nudity was gross and made confusing and scary things happen. I began refusing help with my baths and am reported to have become increasingly difficult. The way I handled the feelings I could not express or understand sealed my fate in a family that was already lean on patience and sensitivity.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your thoughts are welcome here. As long as they are kind. Or maybe just not unkind.