The Fear Factor

Twice in the last week, people have tried to manipulate David with fear. I do not mean instilling healthy fears like saying, “Don’t play in the street or you might get hit by a car.”; or a respectful type of fear by reminding him to consider the consequences. E.g., “If you refuse to obey me you know that I will have to punish you.” I mean purposely scaring the little three-year-old to achieve a desired end.

A few days ago, an eight-year-old neighbor girl came to play with David and Hannah while the babysitter was here. After David did something bad, she locked him in the bathroom, turned off the light and said that a goblin was going to eat him. After a few minutes, she released him and told him not to misbehave again. It worked, of course. David was an angel the rest of the morning, but he would not go near the bathroom for a few days (which caused obvious problems).

Of course, we talked with the babysitter and the neighbor girl when we figured out what happened. We have to keep in mind that many consider that sort of tactic the norm. I am sure that it will not happen again. We finally convinced David that he has nothing to fear in the bathroom, and things in that realm are back to normal.

The second time was yesterday, when I took David and Hannah for a walk. David stopped to beat the snow with a stick and I did not notice for a few moments. When I looked back, I called for him to catch up. David did not seem to hear. Behind us, a babushka (senior citizen) was walking slowly along the path and was almost to David. Trying to help, she looked angrily at him and said, “Little boy, I am going to catch you and stuff you in my bag!” David took one look at this woman, dropped the stick and ran faster than I have ever seen him run. After I calmed him down the babushka came up to us and David hid behind me. I asked her to tell him that she was joking, and she kindly complied. He relaxed.

The good side to all this is that it presented an opportunity to teach David about fear, that he can trust us and God when he is afraid and that God has not given us a spirit of fear

As a protective dad, only one word comes to mind: Unbelievable! Can you imagine what life would be like if God dealt with us, his children, like that?

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3 Responses to “The Fear Factor”


  1. 3 Steve February 18, 2006 at 5:11 am

    The goblin story had me cracking up. 🙂 But really, what a terrible thing to tell a little child. This is where my sheltered Western self would expound the parallels of this with decades of oppressive rule.

    A better parallel,though, is the one between a religion that uses fear and guilt to get people to come every week (even though they hate it) and pay money… and a faith with a loving Lord who picks us up when we fall.


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