But now?! That risk tolerance assessment is so much more complex!
Even in the best of circumstances, the choice is never risk – or – no risk. It is always, which risks am I willing to take? And how will I navigate it when fear creeps up – mine, or theirs?
If I let them climb that tree they may fall and get hurt. If I don’t, they may imprint beliefs about their strength, bravery, or ability, or learn to constantly fear the things that challenge them. If I make this medical choice, it carries with it a risk of harm, but then again, so does not doing it.
If they feel afraid, how can I both – hold their fear and encourage their growth? How do I know…Am I letting them grow at their pace? Or am I holding them back?
What do we do with a complex path forward?
One path carries with it a certain set of both risks and priorities. Certain needs are met, and others need to be set aside in order to follow that path forward. Certain risks must be accepted, but others are able to be minimized or avoided. The other path, a different set.
While we may wrestle with the desire for a middle road forward, free from risk, where all of the priorities are fully met, such a path rarely exists.
How do we balance the moral impulse to protect our children from some of the harshness of life, while still scaffolding the tools they will need to navigate the world they will inherit?
How do we take a step back, honor what’s true for us, and move forward with honesty, compassion, alignment?
As we all navigate COVID we are being asked to confront this very question of navigating complex risks. Our physical safety is being pitted against our emotional well being and the loneliness of social isolation. Our need for connection pitted against our trauma responses and fear. Our fear of the damage already done against our desire to return to the world we once knew.
How we each navigate these choices is such a personal journey, and learning to navigate our process of consent is a journey many of us are still on or just beginning.
I think the answers lies at least in part, in slowing down and being conscious about how we navigate our relationship with fear. As a parent, I know that I am certainly being asked to really listen to my children and what they most need during this time. They are teaching me so much about how to hold space for all of the big emotions of life and cultivate trust and connection through the toughest of challenges and change. Their hearts are so brilliant, perceptive, and wise.
It is such a humbling journey learning how to lead our little ones through this time of collective trauma, fear, grief, rage, and unraveling. None of us are doing this “perfectly”. I think that is an impossible task in times like these. But I do believe we are all doing our very best to teach our children the tools to navigate this new world, even as we are still learning them ourselves.
My hope for humanity is that somehow this softens us. That our children learn a different relationship to fear, risk tolerance, and consent. That we start talking openly about the tough stuff, even when it brings up discomfort. That we learn to hold each other with compassion and remember that the complexity of our shared experiences are often so much more nuanced than they may seem. My hope, as we create our new post COVID world, is that our shared humanity takes center stage and we all find our strength, resiliency, and humility through this.