Authoritative parenting pass fears to children. Fear is an emotion that everyone has. It’s one that you’re probably not proud you have. So you don’t talk much, if any, about whatever you fear. When you keep a fear inside you, it actually eats you up like Pac-Man gobbles pellets while going through the maze.
Let me list some off the top of my head. Fear of losing your job. Your child getting hit by a car. Or one of one your children coming down with a fatal disease. Fear of a fire destroying your home. And not having enough money to pay all your bills is certainly plagues many parents.
Hopefully, your fears aren’t a phobia. Dictionary.com defines “phobia as a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it. Phobias cover a long list from “A to Z.” That’s “A” for ants. The fear of ants which is called Myrmecophobia. Not Arachnophobia which is the fear of snakes. To “Z.” The fear of zebras. Which is called Equiferusophobia. And in between fear of heights, thunder, lightning, small spaces, flying, germs, public speaking, darkness, change, success, bugs, doctors, women, driving, insects, ghosts, clowns, zombies, work and even Phobophobia – The fear of fear.
Fears start in childhood
How does this start? Think back to your childhood and remember what your mom taught you? “Don’t eat with your mouth full” and “Don’t run with a stick in your hand?” “Don’t talk to strangers?” and “Don’t talk unless you’re asked.” “Don’t do what the other kids do.” and the very first ultimatum “Don’t you ever talk back to me again.” These well-intention phrases are, in fact, authoritative parenting. And parents pass their fears to their children. All these parental words of wisdom create fear of eating, running, new people, your friends, and you, your children’s parents.
Authoritative parenting shuts down your teen
Your children deal with your fear-based authoritative parenting in two ways. They cover it with anger. Which leads to arguments and resistance. Or they retreat and become submissive. Your parents certainly didn’t want you to be afraid. And you don’t want to frighten your children.
However, when your child hears a negative instruction, it leaves behind in your mind a negative image. Take this simple test. “Don’t think about a red elephant.” What did you see in your mind’s eye? A red elephant.
What does your teenager’s brain remember after this argument? You ask,”Why did you come home at 1:00 last night?” Your teen replies,”I don’t know I forgot what time it was.” Heatedly you counter, “That’s no excuse. I want an answer.” The reply, “I said I forgot. Get off my back.” You say, “Don’t talk back to me..” That shuts off communication. Your teenager thinks, “I can’t talk to my parents.” That’s why teens often refuse to talk to you, cuts off a conversation designed to help them, creates anger and makes you teenager afraid of you.
Raise healthy, confident children
To raise healthy, confident children that become healthy, confident teenagers, stop your authoritative parenting. Start thinking before you speak and act. Stop the parents pass fears to children cycle. Instead of negative words start using positive ones. Instead of negative instructions, “Don’t be afraid it’s only a little thunder and lightning.” Use positive ones, “You’re safe it’s only a little thunder and lightning.”
Furthermore instead of the previous negative conversation with your teen that came home at 1:00 consider this positive, productive exchange. “I heard you come in last night at 1:00 I was concerned, but happy you were safe. Let me know what happened. I’d really like to know.” “A bunch of us were at Heather’s playing Taboo and eating pizza. I was having so much fun I didn’t want to leave.” You reply, “I understand and am glad you were having fun. Next time. Take a minute and call to let us know you’re okay. That would make us happy. We love you.” “Love you too.”
Finally, look over this positive conversation two or three times until you feel confident using it the next time your teen comes home late or gets a D on a test. Remember to always say, “I love you. Always have. Always will.”