I was thinking to a time several years ago when my ex and I had one of our rare fights. I don’t remember the details, but our oldest son was very young and in trouble. The ex went overboard with yelling and in my mind “instilling fear” into the child. I was angry because I always moderately feared my dad and did not want my kids to fear their dad. Our voices were raised and my ex passionately declared (breaking my heart) that he is OK with the kids being afraid of him. Said he was always afraid of his dad and therefore minded and behaved properly.
I’ve been thinking about this for a week or more now. Mulling it over in my head, trying to figure out how this affected me as a child and how it could affect my kids if ex had continued on the fear path. Thankfully the ex did not continue on the fear path.
Fear is an unpleasant emotion. A fearful person believes that something dangerous is likely to happen. He or she feels something or someone may cause pain – and in my opinion it could be physical OR emotional pain.
In my case, the pain was emotional. I was never good enough. I didn’t do anything right. I was stupid.
I didn’t fully work through my confidence problems until I was in my 40s. I did some initial work on it in my early adult years, but truthfully it was mostly due to situational luck. It was not an intentional effort for improvement until I became a parent and realized I had a special needs child.
Back to the situation with my ex. I believe that he was suffering from an all to common parental misperception. I think that what he really wanted was respect – not fear. When you respect someone, you respond positively to their requests because you know they are capable and trustworthy. When you respect someone, you feel you are able to trust them not to cause you pain or unpleasantness. You are more likely to comply with their requests because you trust and admire them because they are proven their worthiness.
I choose to build respect in all of my relationships, especially with my kids. I want my kids to be able to rely on me because of my proven abilities, qualities, and achievements where they are concerned.
What do you choose?