No matter what your age, or how many years you have self-identified as a parent, when you are with your parents, in their home – the home you grew up in – you find yourself on the other end of the parent-child dynamic. My parents were, of course, very excited that my bike trip brought me home, but throughout this trip they have expressed their deep concern for my safety.
These conversations have reminded me of the many discussions I have had over the years with people, young and old, about comfort zones, specifically whose comfort zone one should be living in. The easy answer is, of course, your own—but no one likes to create stress for others, particularly for parents, children or other loved ones and sometimes the pressure you feel as a result of creating stress in others influences your own comfort zone. You find yourself refraining from activity that you are comfortable with simply because it is “not worth it” in terms of your relationship with loved ones.
Though I don’t have an answer to this dilemma, mindfulness teachings would advise to be aware of our own fears and conscious of when we are imposing them on others who may have a different risk calculation because of different circumstances. For instance, I don’t see well at night so I am afraid to drive after dark. When my children want to drive at night my immediate reaction is to discourage them because it’s dangerous. I have to remind myself that driving at night is not inherently dangerous for someone who, unlike me, has good night vision.
For my parents, biking 3000 miles on frequently busy roads would be a very dangerous activity but for me, as an experienced cyclist, the danger level is much more moderate.
The point is just to be mindful about how our own fears inform our views of other people’s activities and careful not to impose automatically those fears on others. It is a tough thing to do but as with everything, self-awareness and empathy is the key. – Isabella ❤️