Many parents believe that if their children fear them, the children will be more obedient, and in control. Either one of the parents, or both of them employ this tool in order to make the child subservient; they firmly believe that this is for the good of the child. However, they are mistaken. Fear as a parenting tool can produce some disastrous results and it is not beneficial to the child or your relationship with him/her.
Here is why:
If your child fears you, it will eventually lead to emotional detachment from the child’s side. This in turn, creates distance between the parent and the child, implying a major communication gap. Within one family, emotional intimacy is a must. Your child ought to feel you care enough; and once this occurs, your bond with him/her will get stronger.
LACK OF FAITH
This works both ways. If you use fear to control your child, it clearly indicates that you do not trust your child enough. In return, if the child is scared of you or of sharing his/her feelings with you, it will hamper the trust he/she has in you. The child will lose faith in the parent, and expect no warmth or guidance in times of trouble. This may lead to severe depression and a strong feeling of isolation.
DIFFICULTY IN MONITORING
In most cases where fear is employed by parents to keep a tab on the child, it becomes counter- productive for the parent. When the child feels he/she can’t share his/her life with you freely, they will lie or start hiding things from you. If the relationship is thus strained and opaque in nature, you will have absolutely no idea what is going on in the child’s life. Furthermore, you will not be able to understand what the child is going through, which means you can’t help him/her out. This hindrance in monitoring the child will prove to be a major handicap. Fear will make your child aloof.
THE CYCLE OF FEAR
What happens in such cases, is that the fear of failure as a parent, forces the parent to act dominating. Their fears are channelized in reverse now, wherein the parent’s fear transforms into fear of the parent. This is unfair to the child, because he/ she should not suffer for your insecurities. In addition, psychologists have observed that children who fear their parents end up becoming bullies later in life. They mitigate their fears in such a manner, that controlling or bullying those weaker than them becomes their outlet. This cycle of fear is a harmful one and can be avoided for the sake of everyone’s good.
What has been observed in children who fear(ed) their parents, is that they are prone to various psychological disorders. Some of these include- bipolar disorder, split- personality disorder, depression, anxiety, and stress. There is a lack of motivation in these children, and they seem to be discontent with their family as well as life in general.
WHAT SHOULD BE YOUR OUTLOOK?
As a concerned parent, it is obvious that you will want to have a say in your child’s life; this is both acceptable and imperative. However, making your child fear you is not the right way to go about it. You must have open communication with your child, who in turn should be aware that he/she can approach you in times of need without any hesitation or fear. Build the child’s trust in you, but also have faith in him/her. Your child is growing each day, learning to be a better person. Let them. Be his/her friend. As you strengthen your relationship with him/her, you too will grow as a parent. Have patience, and you will reap the benefits in the form of your child’s happiness and peace of mind.
What should be made clear however, is that your benevolence does not gift them the freedom to disobey you. It should be very clear to them that as a parent, you have the last word. Rebellion on their part is not permissible, and they cannot take your faith in them for granted. After a certain limit, you will call the shots, and they need to agree. Be authoritative, not a dictator. Cultivate the right values in your child with a firm, but polite outlook; and you shall be able to keep them from harm’s way.