Fears


Amy Brougher Milstein wrote this September 19, 2016 on her facebook page, and said I can quote it:

A little bit about the events of this week, and my perspective. First, attacks are scary. When you are close enough to an attack to hear it, feel it, see the aftermath, it stays with you. And thank goodness no one was killed on Saturday. To the injured we all wish a speedy and full recovery.

But here is why I refuse to walk around in fear, looking over my shoulder or worrying every time my kids go out on their own.

In 1995 Joshua and I went to Israel to visit his family. It was a fairly volatile time there, so much so that when we went to Jerusalem we did not go on our own, but with a tour; a tour that took us into Bethlehem, in the occupied territories. I had assured my family we wouldn't be going into the territories. (whoops). And then, on the day that we were in what was considered by outsiders as a pretty dangerous place, the Oklahoma City bombing occurred. And as my Mom said, "Well, I wouldn't have been worried at all had you been traveling to Oklahoma City and look what happened."

The other reason I refuse to walk in fear is that while we were on the West Coast, one of the women with whom I served on the Board of our building died of a brain aneurysm while swimming with her granddaughter. There was no inkling that anything was wrong. She seemed fine one second, and then she was gone.

Every day is a gift. Every moment precious. Living in fear robs us of the joy that is life, and truly does give victory to those miserable people who kill or try to kill and spread terror. Being anxious and fearful does not protect us. Maybe there won't be a bomb, but there might be a brain aneurysm. We can't guard against everything that might happen, and if we try to, we'll miss the good that is in front of us every day.

Note from Sandra:

There are links to other writings about fears and anger and stress below. Please don't read it all at once.
Read a little (not enough to stress you out), try a little (relaxation and breathing), wait a while, watch.

Someone wrote, on Always Learning, in March 2015:
"You have every reason to worry about the health of their eyes. You also have every reason to worry about your child sitting all day."
Clare Kirkpatrick responded:
I have 'every reason' to worry about them being in a car accident, I still take them out in cars. I have 'every reason' to worry about them catching some nasty illness, I still take them to play with their friends. If my child ran around all day, I might decide to worry about them pulling a muscle or breaking a bone. If they played outside all day I might worry that they'd never learn how to use computers—the very tools they're going to really need to understand to be able to thrive in the world they're growing up into. If they read books all day I might worry that they'll never learn the team-building, strategising, planning skills they could learn so easily from gaming. If I limited everything they did all day long, I might worry that they're never going to learn how to manage their own time; that they'll never have the chance to develop a skill if that's what they want to do; that they'll be angry with me and that holes will form in our relationship and that damage could lead to future mental health problems...

I always find it helpful to really pick apart my fears and compare them to other fears I could have and I usually come to the conclusion that I really should just chill out about it all and look for joy, not fear. Fear just gets in the way of everything. And fear itself is bad for you anyway -worrying about this or that all the time just means you have some nasty, harmful hormones floating round your body. You can find reasons to worry about everything but all those things will get in your way.


Joyce, in response to someone who said "as a scientist, this email was alarming to me" and "... just figured, you know—the whole point of all of this is because we love our kids a lot—that it would be really sad to discover years down the road (mental health problems tend to arise in humans around the mid-twenties) that we were unwittingly causing harm to kids by..."
I think fear driven research tends to increase the fears because even a little support for the fears (that makes sense) tends to loom larger than counter information. Those "But what if this is true?"s like being fed.

Fears can magnify anything way out of proportion. Fears can make an occasional diet Coke look like a lifetime of a daily six-pack of diet Cokes. They can make a little girl exploring a night of TV watching over a week like years of never seeing the sun. They can make a child fully joyfully engaged in a video game look like a zombie.

But what if??

Other Fears
with ideas for antidotes
Paper cuts and spider bites are nothing compared to fear and doubt.

[P]icture everyone with a dozen practices they're holding onto that make their own life easier and less fearful. The practices are like balloons that support their fears because their fears are threatening to pull them into a bottomless abyss. They *want* to hold onto the balloons and they can't understand why people find it so easy to let go.

America's "let them cry" attitude toward children may lead to more fears and tears among adults, according to two Harvard Medical School researchers.

In World War I we first began to see evidence that prolonged anxiety, stress, and fear can have great destructive effects on the human nervous system....—John Holt

Shallow breathing maintains a state. If you're angry or afraid and you breathe shallowly, you stay that way.

I am going to argue that our fear of "youth violence" isn't well-founded on reality, and that the fear can do more harm than the reality.—Gerard Jones

For the first time, in what seems like my entire life, I am not terrified. Up until now, I have been wielding my alarm and anxiety like a sword and shield battling against the world. I thought that's what I was supposed to do. Isn't that what a good parent does? I thought that fear was a parenting tool that told you how to keep your children safe. I felt that letting go of that fear meant that I was a bad parent. My paranoia had spilled into every part of our lives.

I allowed her to eat in peace, without me hovering over her with MY fears.

She was about 10 when she wanted to buy her first Eminem CD. "Absolutely not" was my first response, but I had to check that. We had conversations about his lyrics, their potential encouragement of violence against women, and my fears that her listening to his music would change her in negative ways. Then she got her CD. We had more conversations about specific lyrics, but I learned to appreciate some of his music; I didn't see any change in her language, behavior, or self-esteem; and, with all parental disapproval removed, he proved to be just one stop in a long and varied musical journey.

Don't pass on your own fears and hates about learning anything.

Living from principles, rather than fears, is the easiest way to grok unschooling...

On young children and TV: What's the Attraction? What are the Fears?

One of the goofy things about love is that it tends to make people fear for those they love and want to do anything they can to protect them from real and potential dangers.

But people of all ages don't like others to build walls around them that prevent them from exploring what intrigues them, from doing what they enjoy. Yes, people want to feel secure, but they want that security to allow them to live life, not preserve their life.

For unschooling to flourish it means taking out our fears and examining them. It means looking at unschooled children to find out what really happens rather than what seems like would happen (from knowledge of schooled, controlled kids). It means shutting off the expert voices that tell parents what they should be seeing, and looking at our real kids.

It can be a tough thing for unschoolers—who want to support their kids explorations—to find ways to put their fears in perspective so they aren't building walls but a nest the kids feel secure in exploring from.

Joyce
the original message


Jenny Cyphers, commenting on "For unschooling to flourish it means taking out our fears and examining them."
I have seen the lack of this destroy peaceful unschooling. If a parent has too many hangups, too many fears, too many issues, that they don't take out and examine, it will destroy what unschooling could be. People can get really wrapped up in fears and "what if's". Sometimes it consumes a person, a parent, a family. Happy, peaceful, unschooling can't flourish in those conditions. Fear creates blocks. Learning needs easy flow. Easy flow can happen naturally unless a person blocks it.

Fear can come in all kinds of forms. Fear of non-organic veggies and fruits, fear of allergies, fear of lack of sleep, fear of too much TV, fear, fear, fear. I get that some people have a really hard time just letting go and relaxing, but kids are usually naturals at it! So, if you are having a hard time letting go of fears, tune into your kid. It helps in a couple of ways. One, you are connecting with your child, seeing what they like and don't like and being attentive in that way, and two, you will be more inclined to avoid things that cause upset in your child. If you are afraid of artificial food coloring and your child wants a popsicle, your fear of food coloring would incline you to deny the popsicle. If you can let that go and see the delight in the popsicle, that is one step closer to letting go of that fear and seeing allowing the happy peace to happen. If you hold onto it and say "no", you get an upset child who might cry or be angry or unhappy with your for holding onto that fear. That's not good for learning or relationships!


Sandra, April 30, 2011:
"To live life, not preserve life" was a great thing for me to read this morning. I've been having nervous thoughts about traveling, and my leg has been hurting, and what if I can't walk much when I get to Edinburgh, and what if it causes me to die early.

Holly was in an accident a few days ago. It wasn't her fault. We lost a car we had been planning to trade in or replace. It had new tires, though. All these thoughts flood through. Holly bumped her head. The insurance company gave her $500 for that head bump (and for signing a paper that said she wasn't going to sue them). Keith's driving a nice rental car until the insurance companies decide what to do. (Holly can't drive the nice rental car because she's not old enough, so she can share my minivan.)

ALL the thoughts of how dangerous it is to drive came to me, and I felt woozy and afraid several times, and I didn't know when those feelings would come to me. Holly's afraid to drive. She'll recover from that, and we can drive her around, and her friends can, for a while.

Parents can't guarantee safety and health for their children. And unschooling is about learning and about experiencing the world, not about living to be 100 instead of 95.

Because she didn't want to drive across town to the yoga center she usually goes to, Holly skateboarded to the nearest yoga place, and had a skateboard accident on the way that banged her up more than this car accident did.

http://sandradodd.blogspot.com/2011/04/holly-taurus-monday-april-25.html

Still, because we love her and because life is for living and for learning, we're going to let her decide whether to ride a skateboard, and whether to drive a car.

(She has two knee scrapes, an arm scratch and a shoulder scrape, all of which she cleaned up and is taking care of.)

Sandra

More on fear, and its effect and alternatives

When Parents have Issues How to be a good unschooler Understanding Anger