In the previous post, I told a story about a family that was having a great deal of difficulty pulling back and letting their son take responsibility for his school work…as a college sophomore.
I love these types of stories. Mainly because I can then feel that at least some parent is more anxious than I am. There’s a bit of twistedness about me that feels good about someone having it worse than me! But when I take a step back and consider what those parents are going through, they stop becoming a caricature and instead remind me that the biggest obstacle we face as parents: Fear.
Some president, I think one of the Roosevelts, said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” When I was a kid, I hated that line, because it made absolutely no sense to me. I don’t fear fear, I fear falling out of trees, my mom catching my lies. I fear the bully down the street named Carroll (he was a guy, I swear. And no one made fun of his name…they didn’t dare).
I didn’t fear fear. I feared the future. I feared what was going to happen to me. But I think that’s what Roosevelt might have been talking about. We don’t fear things, we fear what MIGHT happen. When I think of those parents and what they might be afraid of, it’s all about the future. I they pull back on their responsibility, they are afraid that their student will struggle in school; they are afraid that he will not do the work at all; they are afraid that he might fail. And ultimately, his parents are afraid that they have failed him, by not preparing him for life.
The irony is that, the more they react to their fears, the more likely that the worst outcome will occur. The more they stay involved, the less he has to. I feel for these parents, who might feel like they gotten themselves painted into a corner. In later posts, I will give some ideas of what they can do to pull themselves out of this situation.