Sometimes, our parenting is guided more by fear than wisdom or biblical instruction. It's understandable. We remember our own youthful mistakes and when our kids are born, suddenly, we have a dim memory of the trouble we caused our parents. If you grew up in an ungodly home (I did) then all you want is for things to be different from what you had. We wonder how we will deal with potential sin. The first time our child lies to us, and we're shocked that the innocent little cherub has done so, we wonder how we will handle things should our children try to live under their own authority. It can be frightening.
Fear, though, ought not to be our guiding principle. While we want to be careful and cautious at times, parenting in fear has bad consequences:
- Fear causes us to make decisions based on emotion as opposed to fact.
- Fear makes us compre ourselves to other parents; comparison leads to decisions based on emotion.
- Fear makes us legalistic, imposing rules that are more about control than righteousness.
- Fear makes us more concerned about the outward behaviour of our kids than their hearts.
- Fear makes us second guess ourselves (years later at times) and feel guilt that has nothing to do with God, but everything to do with our pride.
- Fear may cause us to limit our children and hover more than is good.
- Fear tends to control, and it will control us to the point where other facets of our lives begin to suffer from our lack of attention.
The reality is that children are a heritage from the Lord, (Ps. 127:3). God is good (Ps. 106:1) and whatever He gives us is good, including our children. He makes no mistakes. He gives them to us knowing that through His strength and wisdom, we can parent them for His glory. Fear and anxiety about our decisions may point to the fact that we don't entirely trust Him. Philippians 4:4-7 reminds us:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
If we want peace in our parenting, it's time to get on our knees.
We want parenting to be easy. We adopt methods and employ the advice of the "experts" so that we can get through the A-Z in parenting without incident. Parenting is not easy, nor is it convenient, and it's definitely not for the faint of heart. It's a lesson in contrasts at times, as we hover between inexpressible joy and abject fear. Christ alone can bring us away from the place of fear as we trust Him. Ultimately, we have to stop looking at raising a child as producing a product and understand that we are raising a soul.