Are You Parenting Out of Fear?

 There is sometimes a fine line between protective parenting and fear-based parenting.  The goal is generally the same…to keep our children safe.  But not all experiences—yes, even the negative ones—must be avoided.  There is a time for hard lessons to be learned, feelings to be hurt, lies to be exposed and dangers to be felt.

 

Why is this important?  Because too often in our attempt to parent based on fear, we keep our children from experiencing difficulties that may one day come at them anyway or to a greater degree than anticipated.  They do grow up.  They turn into teenagers with their own opinions and beliefs.  And then they turn into independent adults.

 

If we make every single decision for them, how will they ever learn to problem solve? 

 

If we choose all their friends for them, how will they ever learn to recognize a true one?

 

If we make sure they never lack, how will they ever learn to want?

 

If we control all of their surroundings, how will they learn to adapt? 

 

Parenting that’s based on protection has their best interests at heart…yet knows it will include some bumps in the road.  Parenting that’s based on fear has their best interests at heart…yet fights, manipulates, and controls to avoid those bumps in the road.  But bumps make up our journey in life.  They will always be there and try as we might to avoid them, eventually we’ll hit one.  Will our children know what to do?

 

Having two adult children and one just a couple years from that, I can look back and see how some of my parenting was based on protection and some on fear.  The truth is that in their earlier years, it was mostly based on fear.  I wanted to control every aspect of their lives.  In some cases that did more harm than good.  Some of those things we can laugh about today.  But for other situations, it resulted in unnecessary struggles.

 

When I shifted to protective parenting, it didn’t mean there weren’t challenges.  Yet every single one has turned around and resulted in something beautiful.  Whether it was an awakening in a child’s spirit, wisdom gained or growth as a person…each bump they were able to get over and keep on moving forward.

 

There is no right or wrong way to parent.  There is no magical formula or method.  There is no book or “expert” who can provide the answers.  The only thing I am sure of is that there’s more damage done in parenting out of fear.  It’s not easy to see our children struggle…to make mistakes…to choose the wrong path…to do things the hard way.  But these bumps don’t determine their final destination.  So put your trust in God and allow Him to lead their way.

 

© 2015, Stephanie Romero

 

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When Fear Comes Knocking…Don’t Answer the Door

Photo by rachaelvoorhees in Flickr

Has fear ever come knocking on your door?  It seems to visit more often for some than others.

I think part of this might have to do with how many times you answer the door.  The more you do, the more it will come knocking.

So the solution?  Don’t answer the door!

I know…easier said than done.  Believe me, I have been there.

Fear came knocking on my door recently, when I learned that my son’s first duty station is going to be in Turkey.  Fears of the countries surrounding Turkey…fears of the distance…fears of the months that I will be unable to see him.

I really wish I could tell you that I refused to open the door.  But I did.

Actually, it was more like I cracked it open.  But we both know that it takes more strength to try and quickly close it, once you have allowed any amount of access.

We know that we can (and should) take our fears to God.  I did that and guess what He did the very next day?  I was reading in the book of Isaiah and this sentence jumped off the page at me…For it is His mouth that has given the order (Isaiah 34:16).

Guess what happened?  Fear fled.  Now I don’t fear…but I do still struggle with the sorrow of knowing it will be well over a year before I will see him again.

If it’s not God’s Word that can relieve our fears, it can sometimes happen when we share them.  Admitting your fears can be therapeutic.

The problem with this is too often we let another fear keep us from sharing.  We are afraid that no one else will be able to relate or understand.

And sometimes that’s true.  What can be a fear for one person may not be to another.  So it’s important that we don’t make someone feel bad because of their fear.

I recently admitted to a couple of friends a current fear.  It is reaching that stage in which I am an empty nester.  A large majority of my life has been spent caring for my children.

What will I do when the last of my children leaves home?  What will my marriage be like?

I have only received a taste of this with my oldest son being away in the Air Force.  I know that the next three years of high school with my daughter are going to soar by. And with my youngest entering high school next year…well, experience has shown me how fast those years go by.

Hearing my friends acknowledge my fears helped.  But they didn’t feed the fears.  They helped me to move past them.

The bottom line is this…when fear comes knocking, don’t answer the door!

© 2012, Stephanie Romero

Fear Not

Most parents deal with some type of fear at one time or another.  Some of those fears can plaque us.  Other fears come and go.

When my children were younger one of my greatest fears was that someone would snatch them.  If I lost sight of any one of them, panic would immediately set in.  I remember times when I would create this terrible scenario in my mind and convince myself that something terrible had happened.

We can have all kinds of fears about our children.  We can fear they won’t do well in school…that they will be bullied…that they won’t make friends…that they will make the wrong choices and the list goes on.

Throughout God’s Word we are told to “fear not.”

Here are a couple of examples just from the book of Isaiah…

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10)

“Fear not, I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)

In just these couple of verses we learn something powerful about why we shouldn’t fear.  We learn that there is no reason to fear because God is with us, He is our God and He will help us.

I still struggle with fears today.  Now that my children are teens, I have a whole list of other things that could cause me to fear.

The past couple of weeks have been especially difficult as I have struggled with fears concerning my oldest son joining the Air Force.  I have lost sleep and suffered with migraines.

In my heart I know this isn’t what God has for me.  So I have been trying to combat those fears with scripture.  The one I have been holding onto lately is this:  “For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways…” (Psalm 91:11)

What fears do you struggle with?  I encourage you to find a scripture verse that you can use to combat those fears.

Parenting Out of Fear

Photo by massagenerd in Stockvault

One trap that I think many moms can fall into is parenting out of fear.  We may be motivated out of fear in such a way that it ends up directing our training, teaching and discipline.

What do I mean by fear?  We fear that if we don’t interfere, our child will get hurt.  We fear that if we don’t put restrictive constraints on our children, they will do something wrong.  We fear saying yes, for it might mean we have made a mistake.

The thing with parenting is that we will make mistakes.  Our children will also make mistakes.  It would be nice to think that at the end of our life, we can look back and say, “I have done it all perfectly” but that just isn’t going to happen.

Life is never certain.  The decisions we make today could have detrimental effects tomorrow.  But if we allow our fears to guide or motivate us, the effects are sure to be worse.

I John 4:18 (ESV) reminds us, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.  For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”