By Lisa Boonstoppel-Pot
I had a Praying Mantis on my shoe the other day. It was prayerfully meditating until it noticed my presence. Then it slowly rotated its alien, triangular head to look at me, whereupon it immediately started flailing its arms like it wanted to fight.
I had no intention of hurting it (unlike its own tendencies to bite the head off a breeding male) and I encouraged it to climb off my shoe onto a sheltering bush nearby.
It got me thinking about the connection between fear and fighting and how quickly relationships can deteriorate into anger when, at the heart of it, fear is the problem ... not the issue itself.
COVID-19: Like many families. we have members who are fully vaccinated and some who are not. Opinions on the pandemic, the government’s vaccination mandates and the current and future health of the vaccinated versus non-vaccinated run the gamut from pro-vaccination to anti-vaccers.
Then comes Thanksgiving and all these people, vaccinated and unvaccinated, have to decide where and how to celebrate the holiday.
Our family chose to celebrate together and when the subject of COVID-19 came up, it was politely shut down because it would certainly lead to a family discussion that could easily lead to a family fight.
We don’t want that. Plus, neither side has enough proof to know with 100 per cent certainty that their decision to vaccinate, or not, is the right one.
I think fear plays a huge role in either decision — fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus (or spreading it to someone vulnerable) or fear of damaging our bodies much worse with a new vaccine.
In this instance, our fears remained muted and our opinions unstated. It wasn’t actually “flight” but it was an avoidance to avoid the risk of a “fight” response this day, we wanted to be thankful ... not angry.
CURFEWS: Parenting in my 50s is not nearly the rule-making, figuring-it-out, perfect-parent-pressure role it was when I first had teenagers in my thirties.
These last two teens have been given more freedom to go out and make wise choices until they make a stupid decision. Which is what happened recently when one teen still wasn’t home at 2:30 a.m. and worse yet, wasn’t answering her phone.
This had never happened before so after the tenth unanswered call I had visions of her dying in the ditch, phone lost in the cornfield. It was NOT a good night.
I tried using the Snapchat map feature, woke up her siblings to also make calls and finally, we reached her by phone which she had tossed onto a chair and not heard. She was fine but still very, very late.
Fear made me angry at this teenager for putting me through so much angst. I wanted to yell, cry and fight to release all that worried energy.
Instead, we both agreed she should be grounded and understood communication would be vital moving forward. It has been good since.
These are just two simple experiences I’ve had recently when fear could have led to a fight. I think, from both of them, I’ve learned that properly managed communication (speak, or not to speak) is the ultimate antidote to fear-induced fighting — a lesson to be heeded by humans. Praying Mantises couldn’t care less.◊