Failure to succeed. Being left out. Making the team. Bullying. Falling away from faith. And now . . . navigating life and education in the midst of a pandemic.
There are so many things we can worry about as parents.
And who can blame us? Media messages, articles, not-so-timely posts shared on social media, and “advice” from other moms can leave us feeling overwhelmed, full of anxiety, and pondering questions that cannot be easily answered.
How are we going to handle school this fall?
What is this isolation doing to my child?
Will my pre-teen always be this unmotivated?
Is my daughter going to make the high school volleyball team if we don’t start her on a team in second grade like everyone else?
Shouldn’t my preschooler know her numbers and letters by now?
Is what I’m teaching my children about God and the Bible really getting through?
What can I do to make sure MY child gets the spot on the honors choir and not someone else?
Sometimes our concerns are justified. We need to find healthy, Biblical ways to address areas of our child’s life, when he makes poor choices or when she’s asking questions about faith.
But what about those other things that are nagging at our minds? Are there times when our worry gets the best of us, causing us to act from a place of fear when making choices for our kids?
It can be hard to choose to go against the grain and make different choices than fellow parents, especially in areas like sports and academics.
Because of this, we can make choices about education or overload our kids’ schedules with activities that we are sure will help them succeed. We are constantly keeping an eye on what other parents are doing so that we can match them—no matter what the cost (and I mean the literal cost!).
And in the process of pushing our children to be what we think they should be for a productive, successful life, we lose sight of their true feelings and desires. We can forget to ask, “God what is YOUR will for my child’s life?”
But when we can learn to separate out genuine concern from worries that stem from our own feelings of unrest, a desire to be noticed, and discontentment, we can begin to parent with the confidence that God will lead us to guide our kids exactly in the way they should go.
Four Questions to Ask Yourself to See If You’re Parenting from a Place of Fear
Here are four time-tested questions my husband and I have found helpful to ask ourselves when making choices for our four children:
- Is this choice something that God has opened doors for, or is it what I want for my child because I’m afraid?
- Is this choice based on what other parents are doing, or is it genuinely something my child needs?
- Is this choice something that will take away large amounts of time from our family, or can it fit well into our everyday lives without compromising the important areas of faith and family?
- Am I walking forward with this choice because God has given us peace, or is there a specific fear that is driving this decision?
5 Scripture Verses that Can Help Us Turn from Parenting out of Fear and Start Parenting with Confidence in God
“But I trust in you, Lord, I say, ‘You are my God. My times are in Your hands.’” Psalm 31:14-15a NIV
“Your promises have been thoroughly tested; that is why I love them so much.” Psalm 119:140 NLT
“And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:24 ESV
“Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” Isaiah 25:1 NIV
“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV
A Practical Lesson in God Using All Things for Good
At the 2018 South Dakota Class A girls state golf meet, senior Kate Wynja had a hard choice to make.
After seeing that she would be named the state champion, she looked down at her scorecard and realized, to her dismay, that she had submitted her scorecard incorrectly.
Knowing that reporting herself would cost her the championship, she had the option of simply keeping the truth to herself. But instead, she chose to inform the tournament officials. Although they appreciated her honesty, they had to follow the rules and disqualify her from the tournament.
Though there was a deep sadness, there was also a huge relief that she had followed the Holy Spirit in making an honest decision to “tell on herself” and speak the truth.
God used the situation for good, the story going viral, giving Kate many opportunities to testify to God’s faithfulness even in disappointment.
Kate’s parents could have mourned the situation and blamed the judges for not allowing her to have the title and prestige. But their confidence was not in their child’s performance, instead, it was in the God who created her and caused even this difficult situation to work for His glory.
There is great peace in knowing that we don’t have to decide our children’s futures: God has them in His hands! His plans for them were formed long ago and He knows every hair on their head.
Those things that we see as weaknesses, the Lord can turn into strengths. Those situations we see as frustrating setbacks, God can redeem for their growth and His glory!
That team they don’t make, the high grades they don’t get could be just what God uses in their lives to bring Him honor and glory and to teach them reliance on Him.
Make a choice to turn from your fear and anxiety and pursue those things that have eternal value for your children. Trust that God has a perfect and beautiful purpose for your child that goes beyond what you can even imagine!