Why Would Anyone Want To Instill Fear In Their Children?

Posted by on Jan 16, 2012 in Abuse, Communication | 0 comments

Why Would Anyone Want To Instill Fear In Their Children?
We Make Up Our Own Fear
My parents used to tell us there was a lion in our basement. It used to make us afraid to go down there alone so we wouldn’t fall down the steps. Our basement was actually a cellar that was always dark, damp and rather cool in an old farmhouse. At the time we still had a coal furnace, so it was rather dirty and kind of muddy.
There were two sets of stairways; the one leading to the inside of the house was an open, uneven, wooden set of steps without much of a handrail. As we got older my mother would ask one of us to get something from the basement such as a jar of canned tomatoes.
Even though we were terrified to do it and she would force whichever one of us happened to be there. They used the same tactic for going outside in the dark. It was easier for them than to have to watch us all the time. However, we grew up afraid of the dark, too.
It is common for children who grow up with fear retain that anxiety as an adult. Parents use fear and guilt to manipulate and control their children. The children learn this and in turn grow into adults who do the same to their own children.
Possibly you can relate to this approach. Have you ever heard a parent ask their very young child “Who do you love more, Mommy or Daddy?”, “Who do you like best?” or “Who do you want to go with?”
The father or mother may appear to be playing a game with each other; however, the adult is actually looking for assurance, attempting to alleviate a sense of insecurity. And it is having a definite effect on the child, causing the child to feel the need to choose between the parents to determine if one is better than the other.
Worry sometimes causes people to react differently than they ordinarily would in the same circumstance.  It is even probable that a person might react in apprehension to a situation before it actually exists.
The fear tactic works well to influence a child’s decision-making sometimes overriding what they want, to avoid what they fear. If a parent feels insecure about losing their child to the other parent, they may choose to instill fear in their child by suggesting something that may give them a reason to fear the other parent. For instance, one might suggest to the child that the other parent wants to take the child away, possibly even kidnap the child.
That kind of suggestion may very well frighten the child. The child may even sense the panic in the custodial parent and take ownership of that anxiety. Children easily and readily pick up feelings from others, particularly those they trust.
In the case of a custodial parent cautioning their child to warn about the non-custodial parent possibly intending to kidnap the child, it is logical for the child not only to be afraid of being around the noncustodial parent, but telling the custodial parent when they’re in the vicinity.
This can be frustrating and extremely painful for the non-custodial parent who doesn’t see the child enough to establish a trusting relationship to override the suspicion. At times the noncustodial parent is banned from any contact with the child at all if the accusation is brought to the attention of child protection systems and legally enforced.
This puts the noncustodial parent in an awkward position as a parent, particularly the mother, who is torn between protecting the child from more fear by staying away and saving the child. Without proof of what is happening, it is difficult to do anything to stop it.
What can the noncustodial mother do?
  • Communicate with your child often if at all possible, particularly if you are well aware of the other parent’s insecurity issues.
  • ALWAYS inform your child of your intentions for visitation and what you’re going to do, including the times, and stick to what you say.
  • Build trust by ALWAYS keeping your word to the child and if for any reason you can’t, make sure the child is the first to know and why.
  • Have other people around when you see your child so they can witness your intentions and actions.
  • Always behave naturally as opposed to suspiciously around your child.
  • Instill and reinforce trust and confidence in your child through letters, calls, talks, family, friends and all other opportunities.
  • Love your child unconditionally knowing they are innocent.
Have enough faith in your own truth to know everything will work out for the highest good. Love will compensate for your struggles.
Peace, Hope and Love,
Mary Dirksen
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