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Archive for March 30th, 2010

Remember when these stickers were frequently appearing on cars and trucks? I don’t see them as often anymore.

On the surface it may seem like a good idea to have no fear. But what I am wondering today… is there a time and place for fear?

I’m not talking about the unhealthy fear that paralyzes and abuses people. I am not talking about fear-mongering. The kind of fear I am wondering about is the kind of fear that keeps a child from putting his hand on the hot stove burner. The kind of fear that keeps most individuals from walking out into rush-hour traffic. The kind of fear that is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom? Hmm…

It seems to have been the case that during my work with many varied ages and backgrounds of young people in recent years, that one thing that seems to be glaringly missing is a healthy fear of any consequences. I am not that old. But I do remember when I was growing up, by and large, young people had respect for most adults in their world and a healthy fear of consequences. This does not seem to be the case these days. I have seen good quality parents at their wits end wondering how to communicate to their children the importance of boundaries and consequences. Note: consequences do not equal punishment. Every action and inaction comes with both positive and negative consequences.

What is the answer? I am not sure. Because I have seen many healthy hard working parents attempt to instill a sense of boundaries and consequences into their young people to no avail. I guess on some level, they will eventually learn their own lessons when the negative consequences eventually outweigh the short term positive rewards. Or not! (And then they would end up in one of the groups I used to facilitate, mandated by the court system.) See? No easy answers.

Although I was a pretty respectful young person, I used to bristle at the thought that “fear was the beginning of wisdom.” I continued to do so until a few years ago. On one occasion my partner attended church with me. She has a completely different spiritual background and perspective than I do. And sometimes those differences can bring clarity. Once again, the concept of “fear is the beginning of wisdom” was noted in that church setting. My partner must have seen my feathers ruffled, because she said “Yeah, I get that. I fear that if I treat you like shit you will leave me.” Hmm… suddenly it was re-framed for me.

Time to end these incomplete musings… or I fear I will be late to work! 😉

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