Monday, September 06, 2010

Parenting By Fear

You’ve heard the saying “Parenting isn’t for cowards”.  It is so true.  PWM and I want to raise our children in love and not in fear.  What I mean is that we want our parenting decisions to be informed by what is best for our kids and what can bring them closer to Jesus.  We don’t want to parent our kids by always being afraid.

I realized tonight that I still have some of that in me.  I’m afraid that my kids are going to not be good workers.  Why?  Part of it is because they have watched me quit working and go on disability insurance.  I still have times where that makes me feel inadequate.  I’m afraid that my kids will internalize that you can quit hard things when the going gets tough.  Rationally, I know that I didn’t quit medicine because it was hard.  Practicing medicine is always hard, and I enjoyed it partly because of the challenge.  But, I hear about so many kids who haven’t learned to work and who give up quickly that I have developed an (admittedly) irrational fear of my kids being lazy.  So when I have to make a decision about school or house work, I’m not always thinking about what God wants or what is best for the child – I’m often relenting to that fear of my kids not being good workers as adults.

And that’s just one place that it’s easy to parent out of fear.  Rosie Girl is a teenager and has friends with driver’s licenses.  EEK!  Part of me wants to say that she can never go anywhere with a teen driver, but the rational part of me knows that I need to put up some reasonable boundaries, but still let her ride with responsible teen drivers.

I thought that fear-based parenting would be about over by now.  PWM and I have been deliberate about our homeschooling decision not being because we’re afraid of what our kids would experience in school (and, in fact, have required them to each take one public school class for the last two years).  We’ve gotten pretty comfortable letting them take walks or bike rides around town.  Yes, it helps that they have their own cell phones!!  But, as they get older, I find lots of reasons to be afraid for them.

How can I not be a fear-based parent?  The answer, of course, is Jesus.  I need to pray for my kids.  A lot.  And I need to pray for wisdom for me and PWM.  Then, I need to rest in the knowledge that God knows about my kids and loves them even more than I do (if that’s possible).  The book of James tells us to cast our cares on God because He cares for us.  And Jesus himself told us not to be afraid because He has overcome the world.

My kids are not perfect.  They never will be.  And it’s not because of my parenting (although I’m sure it will contribute).  It’s because they are human and we are all sinful.  But the same God who keeps the universe running also knows my kids and I can rest in that.

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