by Janet Trevino-Elizarraraz
So much of our unconscious parenting has as its foundation worry and fear about the future, the unknown. Experiencing new levels of fear when becoming a parent is to be expected because suddenly the accumulated images of movies, nightly news, and stories shared come to life in the life of a small, perfect child in your arms, and even though the stories change depending on the age of your child, the underlying anxiety stays with us.
A wise, contemporary teacher, Byron Katie, says, “If you want a little fear and terror because your life is dull, get a future. Terrifying!” Our mind left to itself and unchecked sees disaster and tragedy more readily than imagining a future of abundance and hope. How many of us see our partners dead by the side of the road in some crazy accident when they’re 30 minutes late from work? Or how many of us see our child falling off the playscape when they’re standing on the edge? This is just how we see life, expecting the worse.
And then when we experience the ease and fun of life, we still worry that the boogie man is just around the corner…when’s the other shoe gonna drop? Something bad is bound to happen since so many great things are! I may modify Katie’s quote and say, “If you want to know what you really fear in life, get a child! Being a parent is terrifying in our society!”
Fears and worries are THE tragedy to parenting, not the actual disappointments and difficulties that life brings. They keep us from actually living our life. We can’t possibly see our children in life and love if the glasses we wear are fear and worry.
So, let’s bring this home a bit more. When our fearful thoughts are allowed to stay in our mind, they make their home there and dictate our life. As tiresome the exercise I’m about to suggest is, it’s essential to transforming our fears into truth. Begin to see them; write them out on paper and let them all flow freely… even the ones you may judge as insignificant and ridiculous. We’ve given them our power and are left at their mercy when they are allowed to hide in the corners of our mind.
On the positive side, fears were given the role to protect us and have served us to keep us alive. Most times, though, they’re grown from being a pet dog we’ve taken with us on life’s hunting trips to monsters that stuff us into their pockets, and they walk us!
So, here’s how my list of fears for my kids began:
fear of a loser future
fear of illness/debilitating disease
fear of death
fear of social awkwardness
fear of ugliness
fear of fatness
fear of rejection by other kids
fear of bullies that rule their life
fear of being taken advantage of
fear of being alone
fear of not having direction in life
fear of being unsuccessful
fear of being dependent on parents too long
fear of not having a life partner
fear of being afraid to try new things in life
fear of them having depression or a mental illness
fear that they only see the negative in life
fear that they are paralyzed by their little self-esteem/worth
fear that they won’t be able to figure out life without me
fear that they’ll grow & not need me
fear that they’ll change and not be like me
fear that they’ll reject me, the parent
fear that they’ll hate me
Do you connect with any of these with me? For me, it’s important to see how these thoughts dictate how I live. I want them to never suffer and have everything perfect! Since when does that mean that then their life will be full and rich? First, I question if the scary future I imagine is based in reality or imagined. Let me just say that there is only one answer to that question. It’s ALL IMAGINED!! Anything you think you see in the future is not real. We’ve created an idol of our images of the future, and we need to repent of them, 360 degree turn away from seeing anything that is not right in front of us. Especially since living in fears moves us into control and hyper-intense vigilance in our children’s life and that movement cuts us off from Spirit and Kingdom.
So then what? What is our medicine when we’re sick with these thoughts that control our life?
A deeper understanding of love. Is that too cliche? Sorry. What does love call? What does it compel us to?
The present. That’s all we have and are afforded. It’s something powerful to actually see your child’s face and be in their presence with all their magic and wonder. Responding from what the moment calls is the work of the Spirit. The Spirit of the law guides us in the moment. The letter of the law was present to dictate and control our life. Spirit comes with something new, fresh, and there’s nothing more fresh than what the the present gives.
So, here I sit with the fear that my child may grow to not have any direction in life and want to play video games forever. Ok…first, that’s the future image that isn’t real. When I see my child right now beside me, I see his passion and his ability to navigate the internet and find what he needs to meet his (gaming) needs. I learn that my son right now has direction and knows exactly where he’s going. All of life can teach him, and I can trust that even gaming can be a huge force for good and growth. I can relax that that is the truth. Everything is going as it needs to. I can trust and believe that God ultimately moves us in love and calls us to love what is right now, right here before us.