Raising Boys to be Fearless and FearfulLisa Quinones-Fontanez
Last week I shared how my seven-year-old son, Norrin, was scared of his dad. My husband, Joseph and I, were raised on fear. Joseph doesn’t want his son to be scared of him, but he needs Norrin to understand what is safe and what isn’t.
As parents raising an autistic child, we find ourselves walking this really fine line with Norrin. We want Norrin to be fearful, but at the same time we need him to be fearless.
Norrin is the kind of kid who cannot be left unattended and he requires constant adult supervision. Living in a two-bedroom apartment, less than 900 square feet, one would think it be easy keeping Norrin within eyesight and earshot. But even in an apartment, it’s easy to lose track of my little guy.
The other night while I was folding clothes in the living room and my husband Joseph was getting Norrin’s pajamas, Norrin was in the bathroom. When Joseph walked into the bathroom, he saw two bobbi pins in the outlet. Norrin was holding his hand and said, “My fingers hurt.” It was a really close call. And we were lucky Norrin wasn’t seriously injured.
There are so many times when Norrin just acts so impulsively, totally fearless when he should be fearful. And then there are times when he’s fearful without reason. Is it because he’s seven-year-old boy? Is it autism? Or is it a combination of both? We have no idea. But the kid definitely keeps us on our toes.
We took Norrin swimming recently and for the first time, he was in the pool without a life vest. Joseph was at his side the entire time, yet Norrin refused to go to the middle of the pool. He insisted on swimming along the edge where he felt safe. It was great to see Norrin exhibit some sense of danger, but we don’t want Norrin to be scared of trying new things either.
So what do we do? We take things day by day. We continue to talk about what’s dangerous and what isn’t. We encourage Norrin to try new things—even the things he fears. And we hope that one day Norrin will understand the difference on his own.
Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.
image: iStock photo