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The profound impact of love versus fear in raising children

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

"When a child is not treated in love but in fear, she/he/they will learn not to self-love, but to Self Defend"

The quote from Dr. Françoise Dolto is a powerful reminder of the fundamental choice parents, caregivers, and society as a whole must make when it comes to raising the next generation. Simply put: the way children are treated significantly influences their development and well-being. It offers a binary choice between two contrasting approaches: love and fear.

It involves being mindful of our choices in creating an environment in which a child feels safe, seen, felt, valued, and cherished, fostering open communication, trust, and emotional security.

Even knowing the “cause-effect” relationship, we (parents/caregivers/educators) are so hurt that we still believe we should be punishing, threatening, blaming and shaming our kids to teach them skills, to get their "obedience" and respect. Instead of loving them, respecting their nature and developmental stage, we label, create unrealistic expectations and are unable to see them where they are in their learning process, and who they are as individuals.

We have normalized the use of these "disciplinarian tools" that we don't even recognize them as abuse: treating a child in fear involves using intimidation, punishment, blame/shame and strict discipline as primary tools for parenting.

According to extensive studies, children subjected to fear-based parenting may grow up with anxiety, low self-esteem, and difficulty forming healthy relationships, leading to a cycle of negative behaviors and emotional turmoil.

We are the only species not aware of what our own baby-species need to thrive. Our nature has been so damaged that we still believe that surviving is the same as thriving, "doing" and "having" is more important than "being", and that children need to be hurt and in fear to learn and show "respect".

We are so hurt and dysregulated that we expect children and teens to be mini-adults; however, we would not treat an adult the same way we treat kids. Paradoxical much?

Would you hit your best friend if she/he/they spills milk on your sofa? Would you yell at your co-worker if they make a mistake? Would you take away your partners smartphone to teach him/her/they a lesson?

When a child is treated with fear, the consequences can be deeply detrimental. Here's a glimpse of the potential outcomes:

  1. Anxiety and Stress: Fear-based parenting can lead to chronic stress and anxiety, as children constantly worry about the consequences of their actions.

  2. Low Self-Esteem: Fear can erode a child's self-esteem, leading to self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy.

  3. Rebellion and Aggression: Children raised in fear may rebel against authority figures or develop aggressive behavior as a means of self-defense.

  4. Trust Issues: Fear-based parenting can create a sense of distrust and an inability to form close, meaningful relationships.

We are so hurt that we still believe acts of "abuse" are effective ways in showing love, teaching a lesson and/or demanding respect.

We are so hurt that we are not capable to see a different way to parent other than yelling, threatening, demanding and punishing. What if I can promise you and show you that there is a way to connect with your kids and teens that does not include punishments, rewards and “obedience”?

What if we can tap into our instinctual nurturing-loving beings and teach from the heart not from HURT? A way of bringing back our humanity and a deeper understanding about our own species.

When a child is treated with love, acceptance and respect, the impact is far-reaching and overwhelmingly positive:

  1. Emotional Well-being: Love provides a stable emotional foundation that allows children to explore their feelings and develop emotional intelligence.

  2. Self-Esteem: A loving environment bolsters a child's self-esteem and self-worth, enabling them to face challenges with confidence.

  3. Healthy Relationships: Children raised in love tend to form healthier, more fulfilling relationships in adulthood, as they've learned to trust and communicate effectively.

  4. Empathy and Compassion: Love teaches children empathy and compassion, nurturing their ability to understand and connect with others.

The quote "If a child is not treated in love but in fear" encapsulates the profound impact of parenting choices on a child's life. Love and fear representing two contrasting paths.

The transformational power of love in child rearing cannot be understated, and by choosing love over fear, we contribute to the betterment of the next generation and the world they will shape.

Let us embrace this wisdom and create a nurturing environment where love guides our children's growth and development.

Let’s be the ones breaking the generational cycle of superiority and patterns of oppression and power. By doing so, we can live a more fulfilling life without suffering the consequences of trauma, violence and mental disorders in our society, so our kids do not have to recover from their childhoods. I know deep down you feel lost. And I know how it feels to not know where to turn for answers. " How do I parent differently then?"

I promise you that there is a road-map. A path that is healing for you and your family. Are you ready to transform the way you live and parent? It is transformative. It is possible. There is hope. Let’s map. I can help.

Flavia Nazareth - is a mom of a teen, an art therapy Practitioner, Jai Certified Parent Coach and trauma-informed coach for teens and adults. She is the founder and owner of Little Blank Canvas Art Studio and MAP - Mindful Art Practices/Mindful Art of Parenting.

Flavia lives with her husband, daughter and her adorable dog Sparky in North Carolina. When she is not at the Art Studio or working at MAP, she is traveling, reading, or hanging out with her daughter Olivia.

To learn more about Flavia and her work at MAP, click here or email her at and check out her Parent Coach page 

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