Why I Deliberately Hurt My Children

Courtesy of Flickr

Courtesy of Flickr

FDRThe Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself

SJ and I are lying in the grass. We are a few houses down from our own.

You may be wondering why we were lying on our neighbor’s front lawn.

Well, I pushed SJ down. It was for his own good.

You see SJ is afraid. He is learning to ride a bike and is afraid of falling. So, I pushed him down. And his bike. Then, I fell too.

“Does it hurt? Are you okay? Can you get up? Do you want to try again?”

He can ride. I have seen him do it for a few seconds here and there. Then he gets nervous and starts to think. Then the fear wins. He takes his feet off the pedal – wishing to stay still and fearful of moving forward.

I throw the ball to BR. He moves aside sticks his baseball glove out half-heartedly hoping the ball will land inside.

My next throw is at BR. I want it to hit him. And it does. He is upset.

The catch is over, and we go in the house.

“Don’t be nervous. You can’t be afraid of the ball. You will never be good at baseball if you are afraid. Fear of the ball will lead you to getting hurt.”

He loves baseball and is determined to join Little League next year. He has improved his hitting, has a good arm, and knows the rules. He could be a solid player. This will never occur if he is filled with fear. Nerves are holding him back.

Both of my boys are often fearful and nervous. It saves them and eases some worries. Yet, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, and nerves holds them back.

I wonder where they got this fear. As a child, I was very confident. I thought I could do anything. As I got older, this confidence evaporated, and I wasn’t sure I could do anything.

As an adult, I have settled somewhere in between.

I question and pause. When I don’t move forward, I tell myself I am being realistic, practical. In reality, there are times when fear, nerve have won and it is to my detriment.

Other times, I have jumped in. Fear be damned. I changed professions practically on the fly. When my wife brings this up, I just shrug. It didn’t seem like a big deal. I did what I had to do. Why should I be nervous?

I want my children to be confident enough to ask for help. I want them fearless enough to be willing to take a chance. I want them determined to get up the nerve and try new ventures.

I can’t promise them they won’t get hurt. They will fall and the ball will hit them. Pain, failure, and disappointment happen. As will success and joy.

I want my boys to know that and to live life that way. Maybe, I need to be a better example.

31 thoughts on “Why I Deliberately Hurt My Children

  1. Part of me is thinking “poor little guy, getting knocked down by his dad, way to build trust, dad”. Another part is thinking, “wish I’d had some more of that growing up, maybe I wouldn’t be so nervous now”.
    I hope the life lessons stick and the follow through is as positive as you hope for.

  2. I think it’s great what you are doing with your sons, it will make them stronger you will see! 🙂 you know, my youngest brother was always scared to try new things but my dad always pushed him & now he’s not scared. Like you, I used to not be scared of anything when I was a kid but now I seem to be scared of everything! hope I will find a balance like you did! 🙂

  3. While I hear what you’re saying about trying to build your son’s confidence level up, I can only imagine what your neighbors are saying about this crazy father that keeps knocking his son off of his bike. I guess this will explain it when your confined to a wheelchair [when you’re 120 years old] and BR lets you roll down a ramp. Perhaps he’ll tell you that he was trying to provide you with a lesson about “gravity” or better yet, our healthvcare reform.

    BR will do just fine. Loking foraard to seeing him out in the field playing Litle League. Perhaps he’ll be on JE’s team.

    • I am not so worried about what the neighbors think. Well, I do hope that they don’t call child services.
      That gravity lesson you describe does not sound so healthy.
      I hope BR will do just fine in little league. It would be good for his self-confidence and social challenges.

  4. I’m sure kids with no fear are a problem for parents too! My youngest used to be one of those but only being 2 he couldn’t do much with it. He is steadily getting the fear factor about stuff and I’m a little glad so we don’t end up in the hospital every week! I went through the same thing this summer with the bike riding with Bency. It can get so frustrating when they are going for quite a few seconds by them self and then as soon as they realize you’re not right next to them down they go!

    • So nice to hear from you again.
      Anyway, I am sure you are right – no fear is a problem too.
      Yes – the bike ride learning is tough.

  5. I think you’re balancing their anxieties in a compassionate and wise way. If we try to make our kids’ lives perfect and trouble free, we’re seriously short-changing them for the future. But I think we all understand that cruelty is never a good parenting model, either.

    I love the thought of you both on the neighbor’s lawn!

    • I am certainly trying. Agreed – can’t let kids think everything is good, fair, and easy.
      I thought you might be bothered by the lawn thing – you know the gardener in you.

  6. I have issues, so I worked very hard to make sure T didn’t grow up and inherit those same issues – make sure he knew that the world was his oyster and even if it hurt, the hurt wouldn’t last. Of course, I did have the frequent flyer card at our local ER due to the lack of fear and the fact that he is a boy; however, I’ll take those moments because when we walk into a restaurant, he’s not afraid to ask the waiter what they recommend – and then order it!

    • Good for you for helping your child go past and not have to deal with issues you have. From what you write about T, he sounds like a really good kid with a rich life and many experiences.

  7. I think you are giving them a great lesson of what life is really about. They will learn to fall and they will learn to stand back up again. The circle of life. I admire your courage though, I am a bit more on the protective side.

  8. I get this – I totally get what you’re doing! The first time I saw jake get hurt, I think cried more than he did. I totally freaked out and even went to ask the neighbor what I should do. Now we’re in a different world. Jake gets hurt at least once a week and most of it is his fault. I tell him to not do something and when he does, he gets hurt so I then I get to say “I told you so.” BUT he’s learning what to do and what not to do and I think somewhere on the way, he’s lost his fear of getting hurt. Of course, now I’m a bit worried that he’ll be one of those extreme sports kids who will do anything. I say keep it up, keep pushing them because that’s what real life is like. It pushes us through our fears.

    • So, he’s gone far the other way. I suppose every action has its issues.
      I do hope that my boys get to the point where they push through their fears as you say.

      • He’s not into extreme sports YET but he’s less anxious about doing something new. I think he’s been hurt so much now that he realizes that he’ll live through it and keep moving on. Unfortunately, they have to feel the pain and live to tell the story to give them the confidence to move past their fears.

  9. We are going through this exact thing right now with my son. He’s in soccer and always stays at least 20 feet from any potential danger. Maybe he needs a small kick in the shin to put things in perspective 🙂

      • He likes his coach a lot. He’s just that kind of kid…he’ll run a huge circle around the action. Which in a way puts him in a good position to work defense. At the last game, his coach put him on offense, but he still did the same things. When I spoke to him about it later, he said “But I don’t know what offense means.” Oops!

  10. We are going through this exact thing right now with my son. He’s in soccer and always stays at least 20 feet from any potential danger. Maybe he needs a small kick in the shin to put things in perspective 🙂

  11. Maybe it’s a guy thing. D figured he would trip my anxious one to get her to put her face in the water at the pool and “get over it”. I took over. Got them lessons, talked them through it, made sure they could always see that I was there supporting them during the lessons and in no time they were swimming like little fish. Some kids came into the group able to swim a little and some didn’t put their faces in the water until the last week. Kids do things on their own timetables, not ours. I guess different methods work for different parents/children.

    • I hear you about the timetable thing and there is validity in that. However, I do think sometimes kids (and adults) do need a push sometimes. Whether these were such times and my push will prove successful, I don’t know.

  12. Fantastic post! This is the way my husband deals with the boys too. Girls are a whole different ball of wax. I like that you are an involved dad who loves his kids passionately and is willing to teach skills like mastering fear and assertiveness. You go!

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