Steve Wiley on Teaching Kids to Enjoy the Moment, Not Fear the Future

Steve Wiley is Jackalope Ranch's Parent Hood. He's a slightly unorthodox father of five who will weigh in weekly with his mildly-rebellious views and observations. If you'd like to see how he came to write this column, watch the intro video. This week he tells his kids not to get too scared in our ever-fearful society.

Don't Be Scared, Kid.

It's not as if I liked scaring the hell out of my children when they were young. The idea is that I was looking out for them by instilling a healthy fear of potential danger as I helped them define this wild and wonderful reality from which they had sprung (and entered, it's a neat paradox). Not exactly a crazy parenting philosophy, right?

See also:
Parent Hood: Five Realities of Parenthood (for potential parents)
Parent Hood: Three Great Kid's Books with Phenomenal Messages.

But like all parental philosophies (and that's all I'm ever putting forth in this blog is my philosophy, which I make up as I go), it's not quite as easy as it looks, and it changes as they grow up. Partly because the kids change, partly because the parent changes. So as they grow older, the philosophy must be re-examined.

Because one thing that hasn't changed is this: I am still a monster influence on what my offspring fear... or don't fear... and my philosophies can affect that fear for the rest of their lives.

So my new focus for all five of them is this: Don't be scared, kid.

Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself.

I forget who said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" (I'm pretty sure it was FDR, but I'm not the kind of writer that has to research stuff), but I harken back to the phrase quite often these days. It's sort of a rally cry.

Why? Because holy shit, have we become a fearful society. It's just crazy. We're scared of everything. Terrorists, governments, fiscal cliffs, diseases, Illuminati... there's something lurking just around every corner.

And that's just the stuff we can verify in this realm. Throw in various gods, devils, spirits, and other various made-up, er, "supernatural" stuff and it's a veritable buffet of apprehension.

If there's something that has fear-potential, the media (oh yeah, we're scared of them too) will whip up a graphic and work it like there's no tomorrow.

Which ironically is the ultimate fear. The fear that, as Jim Morrison put it, "The whole shithouse will go up in flames," and there won't be a tomorrow. See Calendar, Mayan or perhaps Armageddon, The.

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