Thoughtful Thursday: Fears

Did you catch these pictures yesterday?

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Otter could not get enough of this friendly little snake, called a Rosy Boa.  I felt a little better knowing that this was a snake who had already reached it’s full size.  It took everything in me to get close to take pictures…OMGosh my skin was crawling and my tummy was doing flips and still, I wanted to contain my scream and encourage my children in their safe exploration.

It turns out that I learned this fear…did you know that we are only born with two fears?  We are born with the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises…makes sense that those are built into our DNA as survival mechanisms.  Everything else we are afraid of, we learned to be afraid of.

I tucked this little factoid away in my management days…I was always looking to learn new information about how to inspire people.  Now I have four wonderful people who I want to inspire to live life to the fullest…and I have to set my own fears aside so that they can explore, learn and grow in their world.  I did tell them how brave I thought they were to be petting so many snakes (there were three there and they touched all three of them!!!)

On a side note, I was so glad to hear the presenter tell the children that even if they thought the snake was friendly, never to touch or attempt to pet a snake in the wild.  We will be driving that lesson home since we have a “pet” snake at our summer house.  It’s actually a king snake that burrows near our home, and I am happy to let him have his space since he eats rattlesnakes.

They could tell I was afraid.  After thinking about it, I really need to come up with an answer besides, “I don’t like snakes.”  I am teaching them fear and prejudice with that answer.  While I know some fears are probably considered “healthy fears”, I do not want to teach them one that hinders their exploration or respect for other living creatures.  I was thinking I can say something like, “Snakes make me feel uncomfortable.  Mommy is so glad to see you exploring, though. I think you are so brave.  Thank you for showing me I do not have to be afraid.”

So, another parenting lesson learned and filed away for our next Animal Encounter experience.  We will be going back next month, so I will have a chance to get it right!

What do you think?  Do you have any fears that you do or do not want to teach your children?  How do you handle those situations??