10 Reasons I Don’t Want My Children to Fear Me
I am constantly thinking about the dysfunctional mindset I had before becoming a peaceful parent. I think about how so much of what I thought was influenced by things friends and family said, along with things on TV and social media. One of the things I’ve consistently seen is having children that fear you being a point of pride. Looking at it now I see that this mindset is based on the premise that fear equals respect. I learned very quickly that that premise is inconsistent when put up against the test of universality. Do I respect politicians whose moral philosophy frightens me? Absolutely not. Would anyone consider what a woman feels towards her abusive husband respect? Of course not. Why should those same standards of respect change when it comes to the parent and child relationship? The answer is, it shouldn’t, the premise is flawed and should be abandoned.
Here are ten reasons why I don’t want my children to fear me:
1) I don’t want to use aggression towards my child.
You have to use aggression in order to produce fear. Intimidation, threats, yelling, shaming, physical force (of any kind) are all forms of aggression that parents use to scare their child into behaving the they want them to behave. Aggression of any kind when parenting is child abuse. As the saying goes, if your idea requires aggression, then your idea is bad.
2) I don’t want to mess with my child’s natural hormone production.
Your body naturally produces a hormone called cortisol. I spoke about this hormone in my article that deals with my issues with childcare. This hormone is sometimes referred to as the “stress hormone” because higher levels of cortisol are released when you are stressed.1 While cortisol is naturally produced in the body too much, or too little, cortisol is bad. Children will produce this hormone when their parents react in a way that makes them feel scared. A lot of other things can go wrong from having roller coaster cortisol levels. Since the body naturally regulates this hormone we should probably avoid doing anything that messes with it, no?
3) I don’t want my child to think EARNING respect is optional.
I prefer for my relationships to be filled to the brim with honesty. I want my kids to tell me if I am doing something that doesn’t warrant their respect; such as fear mongering. You can’t claim that you deserve respect while simultaneously being disrespectful. Repeatedly promoting this idea tells your child that respect is not something that is earned but instead is something that you claim arbitrarily until someone gives it to you. People that do this get pseudo respect and only from people who don’t have the back bone to stand up for themselves.
4) I don’t want my child to stop trusting me.
Sure, when your child is little your word will be gold. They will trust what you say even when it is inconsistent or false. Eventually they will grow and you can count on the fact that your child will note those inconsistencies. It won’t take long for them to stop trusting you. Once they stop trusting your word, your guidance becomes null and void.
5) I don’t want my child to be a bully.
When you use intimidation as a form of parenting you are teaching the child that might makes right. Meaning if they are bigger and scarier then they can get their way. The child will end up thinking that this form of communication will work in all of their relationships. No one likes the manager that threatens to fire you every two seconds just to remind you who has all the power. No one enjoys the relationship where the other person threatens to leave every time they don’t get their way. No one likes the friend that gives you a guilt trip when you don’t agree with every word they say. And believe me, it won’t take long for them to start using fear and manipulation to get what they want accomplished in their other relationships.
6) I don’t want my child to lie to me.
I get that all kids lie sometimes because it’s human nature. However, children that are scared of their parents tend to lie more frequently. Why? Because they are genuinely scared of the consequence their parents will inflict upon them. A child who trusts that their parent will not hurt them will be more willing to admit it when they have an accident or make a mistake. This will come in handy as they grow and they need more guidance from you. Teenagers/young adults who are scared of what their parents are going to say or do are more likely to dig themselves a hole they can’t get out of without help. Even then, these kids will still refuse to ask their parents to help them.
7) I don’t want to traumatize my child.
I wish this was an obvious reason but a lot of people try to argue that when a child fears their parents it is not going to cause the same type of trauma as being in other states of fear for extended periods of time; but this simply isn’t true. Children who fear their parents usually fear a reaction from them multiple times everyday. This means that they are in an almost constant state of fear. By definition this is trauma to the psyche.
8) I don’t want my children to think fear belongs anywhere near a healthy relationship.
When you raise children to fear your anger you teach them that it is okay for one person in a relationship to be a dictator. Essentially, this teaches them that dysfunctional relationships are normal. Finding a functional relationship with this mindset would be a miracle that would probably require a full disconnect between the parent and the child. I want my child to understand all of the aspects of a healthy relationship and that will be impossible for them to grasp if they are taught that fear is one of those aspects.
9) I don’t want my children to fear those who are close to them.
When you transform from the fun mom that’s baking cookies into the screaming mom that’s in a fit of rage in just a matter of seconds you are destroying your child’s stability. This can cause a snowball effect where your child then expects this behavior from everyone else. They will start to feel like they are constantly walking on eggs shells simply trying to avoid the pain of a bad reaction. Typically when you abuse children you end up with one of two things in the end; you end up with a bully or you end up with door mat. I would never want my child to be either of those things.
10) I don’t want to fear my children someday.
Here’s the thing about hurting children; they grow up. They will be older and stronger; you will be older and weaker. Then you add that to the fact they have this idea that it’s okay to hit people when you’re angry. Have you heard about the teenagers that punch their parents? Yeah, I’m always like, “Well you kind of should have seen that coming.” Then you have the people that put their parents into nasty homes. I’m talking about the homes that you know they are no good but their children put them there anyway. Most people blame the “selfish” 52 year old but you should actually be looking at the “sweet” 85 year old they stuffed into the care facility. If you don’t take proper care of your children when they are young and need you, then they will not take proper care of you when you are old and need them. You don’t just get the right to company and care from your children when you are older, you have to earn that.
I want my children to think many different things when they think about me. I want them to think about how I try to stop what I am doing before speaking to them so that we always make eye contact when we speak. I want them to think about how I am honest with them about how I am feeling. I want them to think about how I allow them to be honest with me about how they are feeling. I want them to think about how I take breaths with them when they need to calm down. I want them to think about how I treat them with just as much respect as I expect them to treat me with; no more and no less. I want them to think about our conversations and silly times. I want them to think about how I always kiss them good night, twice. Fear will blur the all of these thing. As the memories fade away any fear I made them feel will linger and like the smell of death it will ruin anything good that remains.
1) Cortisol and Stress, How to stay Healthy When You’re Stressed Out, VeryWell, https://www.verywell.com/cortisol-and-stress-how-to-stay-healthy-3145080