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Today's Family Magazine

Mommy Chronicles: Don’t be afraid to face your fears

Feb 19, 2019 04:30PM
By Stacy Turner

Lately, I’ve been listening to a podcast called "Do It Scared™" and it’s providing a new perspective on fear, confidence, and getting things accomplished.  The premise is that sometimes, in order to grow, we need to stretch outside of our comfort zone.  And that even though doing something new or different can seem scary at first, having the courage to try, in spite of that fear, helps us to grow.  I’m finding that the more I listen, the more I realize that this concept can apply to everyone, including our kids.

Growing up involves lots of opportunities for kids to do things they’ve never done before.  Taking advantage of new opportunities and experiences takes courage and confidence.  Most young kids are hard-wired with an innate curiosity and boundless energy to investigate the world around them.  Over time, as they get older, they can start to question their skills and abilities.  And as their worlds begin to open up, they’ll encounter things they haven’t seen yet, and things they’ve never done.  They’ll need courage and confidence to be open to these new opportunities. 

But just like other muscles, courage and confidence need exercise in order to be strengthened.  In addition to providing our kids with encouragement when they face difficult or scary things, our kids need to see our example of how we accomplish this in our own lives. Because we need to face our fears, too; our kids need to understand that courage doesn’t mean we’re never afraid; courage means we take action in spite of our fears.

I remember before I learned to drive, I was terrified thinking of getting behind the wheel of a car and being solely responsible for directing its path along the streets of my home town filled with pedestrians and other distractions.  I remember cringing when hearing about my classmate who crashed into a parked car during a drivers ed practice run, or a friend of my sister’s who sideswiped a fast food pick-up window because she misjudged the distance. But I faced my fears, got my driver's license, and eventually joined in the throng of harried drivers in early-morning highway rush hour, scurrying to a job downtown, even parallel parking when the opportunity arose. And while our typical winter weather occasionally leads to white-knuckle driving, I’ve managed to drive my children and myself through many winters without major incident and little thought to the hesitations I first felt as a beginning driver.

In a few short months, my eldest will be getting behind the wheel, and I have to admit that fear has returned, although it’s somewhat different.  I’m scared that we haven’t prepared her for everything; I fear what other drivers may do.  I know this is all normal, and it won’t stop me from helping her in her pursuit of becoming a licensed driver. 

I console myself that, in addition to the skills developed during the required hours she’ll log behind the wheel with a knowledgeable adult, my daughter also has the benefit of many hours on both a riding mower and tractor to sharpen her skills and build her confidence in operating motor vehicles.

Luckily, her dad and I have ample time to adjust to the idea that soon, she’ll be getting in the car without us to take her first solo drive -- without us.  And as she faces her fears to take on the open road first in our neighborhood, and eventually on her path toward her future, we’ll be facing our fear of letting her go so she’ll be ready to grow.  Hopefully, she won’t shy away from the hard stuff and be willing, in the right situations, to do it scared.