28 Dec Are you operating from a fear-based parenting style?
Megan de Beyer introduces her modern mother’s guide to raising teenage boys in the current#metoo #allmenaretrash era with her new book ‘How to raise a Man’
Are you operating from a fear-based parenting style?
When your son tells you a story, what is the attention you bring to him? Is it:
- What’s wrong here?
- What’s the problem?
- What’s the concern here?
- What needs to be sorted out here?
We spend a lot of time in judgement mode or trying to take control. This doesn’t work with teenagers who are trying to find their own way and their own solutions.
The good news is that there is another way of being, and it is as simple as looking for what’s right in the moment, what’s enjoyable, and what we can actually learn in the moment.
You can go with a ‘judgement mentality’, where you are always looking for problems, or you can choose a ‘growth mentality’, where you suspend the voice of judgement and try to adjust to the question: What is there to learn?
What is right in the moment when your teen boy is telling you a story is that he has brought his attention to you. When you look at it like that, you’re going to think again about the quality of attention you give him.
An attitude of judgement stops us from approaching an interaction with an open mind. What suspends and arrests the open heart? The voice of cynicism or suspicion. The voice that says: You expect me to believe that?
- I don’t trust this.
- This doesn’t feel right.
- Something is going on here.
You are used to making things right, fixing your little boy’s problems, healing his hurts, protecting him … It has become your default position. You are primed to look out for anything wrong, and that’s immediately the place your mind jumps to. Mistrust causes a sudden contraction and, when you’re closed and suspicious, you can’t be available in an open, heartfelt way.
Fear sabotages your willingness to be present. You need to begin to find a way to be more loving than fearful, because you are laying down a legacy in your home of being worried all the time. You probably parent in an unconscious way if you are often anxious.
Instead, you want to project fearlessness:
- You can do it!
- I trust you.
- Let’s have some fun!
What, then, can help us move into being more willing, more available and more open? How can we find ways to lessen our fearfulness as a parent?
That is what I hope this book will show you. One of the major things we will be doing is discovering that the more you parent from a place of fear, the more you are establishing an ancient system of submission and domination. That system is caused by high stress.
The more you are in high stress, the closer you are to fight-or-flight mode, which results in a state of submission and domination:
- I have to be right, and therefore you have to be wrong.
- I have to be in charge, and therefore you have to follow.
- I will tell you what to do and you’d better just listen up.
This causes a downward spiral of blame and shame. Instead, choose a cooperative and relational approach by practising having an open heart, an open mind, and a willingness to be brave and vulnerable enough to be receptive and available. You will learn to move into a place of cooperation, contribution, sharing, caring, loving, being more open and being more available.
Can you do it 100 per cent of the time? No, but you are going to work towards establishing pockets of that in your home – moments that will begin to diminish the stress that keeps you so trapped in the belief that life is tough and hard. We want our teenagers to have some hope that life can be joyful and fun, that they can be liked and that they can follow their bliss, and discover the things that are important to them.
In this era of #metoo, it’s evident that something is going wrong in the way men progress from childhood into adulthood, and few realise how critical the role of the purposeful and emotionally empowered mother is in a boy’s journey to maturity. Specialist parent psychologist, Megan de Beyer facilitates the popular course ‘Strong Mothers Strong Sons’ and has written an essential book How To Raise a Man. This is an extract.
How To Raise a Man is available at all good book stores from 29 December 2020 RRP$32.99
Author image: Frederick von Heyer