It seems like everywhere you look in the media there is always yet another “big bad” that we are being told that we must be afraid of. The Coronavirus, Murder-Hornets, China, Russia, political ideologies, the deep-state, and pretty much anything else that you can think of.
The question is just exactly how afraid should we be? Should we cower in fear in our homes while we wait for word on whether or not it’s safe to come out? Should we sacrifice our liberties and freedoms en mass for an ounce of perceived security?
What about our children? What are we teaching them when we cower in fear of the world and everything in it?
Just yesterday my wife was inside a store picking up some groceries when she happened upon a woman with her daughter who was roughly 6-8 years old. They were both wearing masks and shopping in the aisle that my wife happened to turn onto.
Immediately the woman became hyper alert of my wife’s presence and grabbed her daughter arm pulling her close while exclaiming,
“GET OVER HERE! STAY AWAY FROM THAT LADY! SHE’S NOT WEARING A MASK! DON’T GO NEAR THAT LADY! ”
The poor girl looked absolutely terrified and unsure of what was going on as her mother tried to drag her down the aisle away from my wife as quickly as possible.
I can’t help but wonder at what the implications of actions like these can have on a child, especially at such a young and impressionable age. This poor young girl will always remember her mother grabbing her out of fear and shouting warnings at her to be afraid of a stranger.
Of course every parent should make protecting their children one of their top priorities. This shouldn’t even be a question. But when they attempt to do so by teaching their children to be afraid of everything, the consequences can be dire.
As a father myself, I can’t imagine teaching my children to be afraid of anything. Cautious, maybe. But certainly not afraid. The last thing I want as my children make their way to adulthood is to instill in them an irrational fear of the world.
My job is to make them, in a sense, “combat ready”and capable of maneuvering through the world effectively with the ability to overcome obstacles, not the inclination to run and cower from them.
I get it, there are some things that we should know and worry about, but irrational fear is not the way to go about it. Understanding the issues and the risks involved as well as the means to mitigate them effectively is much more productive for a child’s healthy development.
Furthermore, we ourselves should be conscious of what our own actions teach our children. They learn how to be in the world by watching us much more than by listening to what we say.
By becoming hyper-reactive and fearful, we teach them to do the same. As they watch us cling to the nightly news for word of what to be afraid of, we risk teaching them to become dependent on it and less able to think freely and make their own conclusions.
By not questioning things we see and hear in the media, we teach our children to do the same, thus becoming drones waiting to be told what to think and do. In the age of mass media manipulation, this sets a terrible precedent.
We shouldn’t wish for our children to rely on the actions or words of the government or media, waiting to be given instructions on how to live their lives but if that is the way we ourselves live, it’s only a matter of time before they adopt the same dangerous mindset.
Our goal as parents is to ensure that our children are ready to face the world and all of it’s challenges, not live in fear of the next “big bad”.
I encourage you reading this, if you have children of your own or plan to in the future to ask yourself, “What are my actions teaching my children? To be afraid? Or to have the ability to think freely and discern for themselves?”