All Our Kids Will Face the Mighty Power of Fear
My sixth-grade son stood on stage to sing a song before the entire middle school for their annual talent show. This is no small school. It’s an overcrowded populous of around 1500 kids who packed the gymnasium along with who knows how many teachers. Three years prior, my daughter did the same thing.
Both times, I was a hot mess of nerves. A heart-racing, palm-sweating, mess of a mom.
I was terrified either of them would fumble under the weight of such pressure or fail while facing such overwhelming fear or fall hard off the ledge they bravely walked out on alone. And let me tell you, neither have had any vocal training whatsoever, nor had either performed in front of an audience before. They just like to sing.
And both times, I watched my kids take those nerve-rattling steps onto the stage and into the spotlight – full of judgment, full of what ifs, full of risk, facing the possibility of fumbling, failing, falling…
And my gosh, it’ a wonder they didn’t fumble, fail, or fall.
They walked through their fear to the other side and lived to tell about it.
Middle School is the time in our kids’ lives where peer pressure becomes so very real, where their world opens up to a reality that is no longer guarded and protected by innocence, by simpler things.
Once our kids enter Middle School, everything changes. All of a sudden, things get very complicated. Our kids learn about betrayal and the sorely misguided definition of beauty and success. They learn about reputation and retaliation. They discover a whole new world of difference, of intolerance, of ignorance, of the brutal battles so many kids fight against others or even themselves.
Middle School forces childhood to end abruptly as they free fall into the harsh, cold, murky mess of in-between. They aren’t little children anymore, but they certainly aren’t adults – they are a confused bunch of nomads just trying to find their way.They are a confused bunch of nomads just trying to find their way.Click To Tweet
And some kids sink from the weight of it all. Others spend these years fighting to survive, splashing through the tumultuous waves while riptides pull them under or worse, the current takes them out to sea. Still, others find a way to navigate these turbulent waters with discretion and discernment, buoying their head just above the surface with everything they’ve got.
There are so many virtues we want to instill in our kids as they grow up and step out into the world. We want them to understand the value of kindness, respect, and compassion. We want them to learn that hard work and responsibility will always be the most important part of their success. And of course, we want them to develop the confidence and security to be who they are and act with integrity and autonomy. We want them to hold firm to the values we try to impart on them, despite the overwhelming options presented that could so easily veer them off the path.
But there’s a critical element we best not forget because I think without it, none of these other traits will be lived to the fullest. And my kids made me realize this when they stepped out onto the stage with their legs shaking and their gut twisted.
It’s the ability to face fear and walk through it to the other side.
During the teen years, fear is a mighty monster. It can prevent our kids from sticking to their principles when faced with pressure from their peers to conform to other standards, instead of honoring their own.
Fear can keep our kids from doing the right thing, the smart thing, the compassionate thing, because their world is inundated with choices and every one of them can be scary to face.
Fear can confine our kid’s potential and create a world of constant stress and anxiety. It’s up to us parents to help equip our kids with the much-needed coping skills to navigate all the new opportunities they face and all the perplexing emotions that come along with them.
It takes great courage and strength to face our fears, especially at this age. We need to help our kids identify this strong emotion, talk about it, and learn how to make critical decisions that help them walk through it.
Their triumph over fear will empower them to face their future fears with the same courage and determination. There will be countless opportunities for them to take those bold steps through fear to the other side.
But each time our kids conquer fear, they will be motivated to conquer fear again.
Most importantly, we want our kids to learn that when you walk through fear to the other side, something miraculous happens. On the other side, you discover your ability to do hard things.
And most of life is about doing hard things.
There will be countless times our kids will be standing in the wings with their legs trembling and their stomachs twisted, facing a hard thing…
Let’s help them learn how to walk out on that stage.