Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Episode Thirty Two: Don't Hold Them Back

OK, confession time: I'm afraid of heights. 

To be honest, I have a fear of heights in retrospect. I can climb up a ladder and I've even sky dived. But, if I think back on the event my brain thinks about all the things that could have gone wrong and I freak out. You'd think my survival instinct would kick in before the fact - but no. As a kid I used to walk across the Claudelands Bridge in Hamilton and if I think back to the view looking down, my heart races.

I don't know how this fear originated, but I am determined not to pass it on to my children. I don't like pumpkin and I'm not the biggest fan of Hootie & The Blowfish but I don't want to limit my childrens experiences because of my own fears or tastes. That might be taking New Age Parenting to epic new levels, but I feel like it's important to let your children be their own people. 

Look, I know that there is only so much I can do in the scheme of things. As parents we can't save them from having the same hair colour as us or even the same temperament as us. But, despite some studies arguing the opposite, I think there is a possibility we can save them from our own fears and limitations. We all know what impact those fears have had on our lives and if there's any way we can spare our kids, then why not give it a go? 

I remember I went to Cubs camp with my son. There was a father with his son there and he wouldn't let his boy get involved in any of the activities. No bush walks, no Burma trails at night, no climbing massive bamboo towers. The son was rearing to go but the Dad just wouldn't allow it. What was quite obvious to us, the other parents, was that the Dad was just scared. Maybe he has a bamboo phobia? Maybe he has a fear of the bush. Together we deduced that he was probably sacred of letting is son go. It can be terrifying to let your children take risks. But sometimes, you just need to feel the fear and do it anyway. In the end, we encouraged the father to try things out himself and his son was there all the way, talking him through it- reassuring him. It was an amazing moment and definitely a lesson I took away from that weekend that I use quite often.

You don't have to do anything as extreme as getting up on the roof with you children like I did. But maybe there is a small step you can make? Is there something you are afraid of or dislike that is disadvantaging your children? Are you denying them the greatness that is Hootie & The Blowfish? Are you stopping them from playing sports because you were not an athletic-type growing up? I'm not saying you're damaging your children by any means. But maybe you are closing off a little bit of the world that they may, in fact, thrive in. I may have a gifted rock climber in my midst, but if I never allow them the chance to experience climbing and getting up on the roof like a bunch of crazy people, then how will I know?

I don't want to come across as preachy and, to level with you, I'll never ever be able to mask the fact that I can't stand pumpkin. But, like anything to do with our children, to help them be the best they can be takes sacrifice. If that means grabbing the bull by the horns and facing your fears then why not give it a crack? I'll leave it up to you to decide whether it's worth it. In the end I did two things I didn't feel comfortable doing: I got up on the roof but, even worse, I got up there with my children. I think about what could have happened if they fell off the roof and broke bones and if my daughter fell off the ladder - but, it didn't happen. And they had a great time and in the end we are all better off for it.

Next week we will continue on this theme of sacrificing for the sake of our children's development. See you then and have fun!


  1. Great post! And totally agree with you - always careful to keep those spider/ small places/ wool on my teeth phobias to myself! Rachelle

  2. Abraham you are a LEGEND mate. I enjoyed reading this weeks post for us Dad's, and all us Dad's who follow it are better for it regardless of trying everything out on our own kids or not. What it does is prick ones own conscience as to how selfish we can be with our own interests, and at least start thinking up ways to invest in our little ones. They don't give a hoot about how hard you've worked all week, or how much money you've made. But I imagine there little eyes are aglow with excitement as they clambered around on the roof behind dad for just a few minutes! Keep it up bro

  3. Fucken eh Abe. My daughter is the sweetest person I know - never moody, just a constant sunny disposition and living with the perception that everyone and everything is nice. Now I can't protect her from eventually realising that's not the case (unfortunately - I would if I could!) but I can consciously avoid constantly reinforcing my worst personalist traits to her. I don't want to think that it's reasonable to fly into a rage when things aren't working for you, but she could draw that conclusion from seeing me sometimes. I'm pretty sure that in myself, this is a learned behaviour from my dad, but whether it's nature or nurture, I need to address this and nip it in the bud in myself so my girl isn't seeing it as a potential way of dealing with stress. To that end I intend to learn meditation and actually fundamentally change my outlook on life so she doesn't need to suffer from learning a characteristic that won't help her in any way in life, but that she saw her dad do over and over. Isn't it great how our kids help us be our best selves?

    Anyway awesome post as always Abe! - Sam