fear vs. trust

fear vs. trust

Whenever I refer to trust-based parenting, I always think about my kids learning to trust me. While the parallelism of our unconditional love for our kids and God’s unconditional love for me is not lost, I recently realized, while listening to a Bryan Post interview, that there is a fear/trust line for parents, too.

In social media settings, I see pleas for advice on the same behaviors and issues over and over—lying, stealing, cheating, inappropriate bathrooming, not sleeping, hoarding and other food issues, meanness to siblings, academic and processing struggles, etc. On one hand, we often know what the connected parenting solution is and what the root cause is. On the other, there are equally as many “what ifs” floating around to keep us from committing to doing what would really help our kids and to send us on a search for an “appropriate consequence.”

I’ll admit, the connected parenting recommendation is almost never easy, convenient, nor a quick fix. However, when our fears of letting go get in the way, we stand in the way of potential healing for our kids. We need to stop being so dramatic and fearing the worst possible future outcomes from today’s struggles.

Here are the fears with which I struggle as I wrestle with trust-based parenting vs. traditional methods and the answers that my head knows, but my heart is having trouble with:

What is he always needs help scheduling his day and managing his time? His boss won’t plan his work day for him, why should I plan his school day for him?

We committed to him for life. If he needs us to help him manage his time for life, so be it. Eventually he can hire an executive functioning coach or maybe even he’ll even win over a wife to do it for him. The reality is that I know adults that still struggle with this and they’re not destitute or still living at home. Also, he grew up thinking he had to fend for himself and that he didn’t need anyone’s help. Us pushing him to sink or swim only validates his fears of being abandoned. Instead, we can help him learn how to identify his need, not feel shame over it, and verbalize it so he can get help and learn what living in relationship was meant to be.

What if she never learns to do things she doesn’t “want” to do? She’ll never hold a job if she doesn’t learn to listen and obey.

My picking up the tug-of-war rope of the control battle to force her hand will not increase the likelihood that she’ll start doing things she doesn’t like on her own. Developing that skill is much deeper and can only be built on a foundation of emotional security. Instead, we can work on building her character through relationship and helping her verbalize her need and get in relationship with people who complement her and like to do the things she doesn’t. I HATE cleaning. Growing up, I never could fathom finding someone who could enjoy that. However, lo and behold, I have friends (and family) who find cleaning cathardic and think the administrative tasks I thrive on to be a prison sentence. Don’t doubt that I have cultivated relationships in my life so I don’t have to clean and they don’t have to organize their computer.

What is he never cares about speaking English? No one will ever understand him. He won’t have friends AND he won’t be able to get a job.

The truth is that I interact with enough people in life to know that you can in fact get a job in America if you suck at English. Even if he couldn’t, the reality is that there is really no unselfish reason why he couldn’t stay forever and do random manual labor jobs.

Why can’t she get it through her thick skull that we love her and she’s safe? It’s been 5 years for crying out loud!

On the same token, when will I fully understand the depths of God’s love for me? He’s been telling and showing me impeccably for 6 times as long and I can’t seem to get it.

So the next time your skin crawls and your mouth opens to say “But, what if…” after someone gives you connected parenting advice, stop, take a breath, and see if you can identify which of your fears is winning over trusting.

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