Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Parenting with Fear

If I let my imagination wander, it would probably take me about 3 minutes to come up with 99 reasons to be afraid as a parent. School shootings. Pediatric cancer. Autism. Peer pressure. Will he turn his back on his faith? Is the car seat installed correctly? Will he choke on a hot dog? Mmm... hot dogs... Wait, back to the fear. Will he make a bad choice that will dramatically affect his future? Will he slip and bust his head on the coffee table. It goes on and on. If I let it.

Last night a friend told me that her son who has special needs was hurt by a teacher at school. It's being investigated and a thorough body exam is going to be performed. My first reaction and question was, "Are YOU ok?" I don't know what I would do if it was one of my children going through this except that I would just want to hold him and not stop holding him. But we can't. We have to let go. We can't hold their hands all the time, and even if we could, there would still be danger.

Parenting with fear is not Godly parenting. God has given us these tiny people to care for. They are His, not ours yet we act like he's tossed them to us saying, "Best of luck!" That's not to say bad or even tragic things won't happen, but when we parent with the understanding and trust that we are supposed to parent with, it can bring about an entirely new sense of peace.

An article on, shares this insight:
Evelyn Christenson, author of What Happens When We Pray for Our Families, encourages parents to pray "releasing prayers" for their kids. By releasing your children to God in your prayers, you're acknowledging his sufficiency - a scary prospect. What if we surrender our kids only to have God respond by doing something awful? I had to pray a releasing prayer when I held my one-month-old son Christopher the morning of his open-heart surgery. I gave my son to God, and Christopher died five days later. But I know now that my prayer didn't cause Christopher's death. Instead, it prepared me for the loss because I'd already acknowledged that he belonged to God. Instead of anger, there was peace.

A final thought, I was recently talking to a friend about her children and a trauma they had been through, and I reminded her that God loves her children more than she does. As moms, we have to let that sink in. We think, NO ONE loves my kids more than me. It's not possible. But it IS possible and it IS true. God's love is perfect, all knowing, all consuming, and we must allow that to bring us the peace that will drive out the fears. All 99 of them!

Monday, June 16, 2014


That's the response I got from a Facebook friend and via text from another friend when I shared this article on my Facebook page. The headline is, "The Day I Left My Son in the Car" and like most people probably did, I assumed the article was a tragic story about a child who suffered from heat stroke. It was actually quite different, but holy moley, did it make me think. I encourage you to read it and then come back here and compare your thoughts to mine.

The abbreviated version of my thoughts:

We now live in a society where most people believe a child can not be out of your sight for one second, where people think children need constant, total adult supervision. This shift is not rooted in fact. It’s not rooted in any true change. It’s imaginary. It’s rooted in irrational fear. I could not agree more with this comment. The internet enables us to know about a crime in a town on the other side of the country. We couldn't do this before. Of course, information is power, but is too much information fostering irrational fear? 

And maybe because we’re both so isolated and so “ambitious” in our parenting, we sabotage ourselves with impossible standards, live with a chronic fear of not measuring up in what’s supposed to be our most important calling. It’s almost as though, in the course of a few decades, we’ve all developed a cultural anxiety disorder around our children. 
YES! It's so easy for everyone to find a book or a quote attesting to one parenting style or technique being the "right" way that we are constantly afraid of being called-out for doing it wrong. Or when a problem pops up with our child - "He's throwing tantrums!" "She skipped school!", we'll be so hard on ourselves for something that could very well be out of our control. 

I worry that if I let my son play in the alley with the other kids and don’t follow him down because there are already eight responsible adults standing around, I’ll be thought of as the slacker mom who’s not pulling her own. And so I accompany when I probably don’t need to. I supervise and hover and interfere. And at least half of the other parents are probably doing it for exactly the same reason. This is America and parenting is now a competitive sport, just like everything else.
My mom took my son to the park one day and he was playing pretty far away, but she could see him. I'm not sure how the events unfolded, but my mom got a look from another mom indicating disapproval. I admit that I've hovered a little closer than I thought I needed to in cases like these because of what other moms would think of me. Is it a disservice to our children though, if all the other factors tell us it's safe? How many of our parenting decisions are influenced not by what is best for our child but what other parents or society will think of us?