When I was riding the subway today, I let my mind wander (as I tend to do on public transportation) and I began thinking about fear. As a child I was afraid of many things: roller coasters, big dogs, large social gatherings, my parents never coming home when I was left with a babysitter, just to name a few.
Then I thought about my son. What will he be afraid of?
I want him to be able to conquer his fears as I never had a chance to do with many of mine. Although I am no longer afraid of large canines, I still will not get on a roller coaster and parties continue to make me nervous. I suppose conquering one’s fears is a process and is multifaceted. One thing is evident, parental encouragement to face one’s fears can only help alleviate them.
What I realized (when I reflected back on my childhood) is that my parents were respectful of my fears; they validated the fact they were real (which was helpful and made me feel secure) but they did not push me to face them.
This is not to say that it was their responsibility to help me face my fears. I am the only person who can truly do this. I was mainly thinking about what a parent’s role can be with regard to their child’s fears.
Furthermore, I wonder what can I do to instill confidence in my son so that he has the tools to conquer his fears head on. I want him to experience life and take risks that I never took because I was too afraid to leap.
Sometimes being cautious is an asset, other times being too careful leads one to miss out on life experiences.