The currency of this world is fear. Why? Because fear entices. Fear motivates. Fear sells. Unfortunately, this mindset has permeated the parenting world as well. As parents, we face a dizzying array of questions. Does your child refuse to eat salad? Be afraid! He will end up with diabetes! Does your child have red-rimmed eyes? Be afraid! She is probably on drugs! These fears of what is or is not happening, or what may or may not happen, can steal our joy and confidence as parents.
But aren’t you glad that as Christians, we do not have to think, act and fear like the rest of the world? God is Love personified, and Love casts out fear. In fact, 2 Timothy 1:7, KJV, assures us that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” If we really believe God’s love for us and are committed to following His ways in all that we do, we can’t give fear any place in our lives — parenting included.
It’s true —Your children’s minds, bodies and spirits are under attack by the enemy, but if you’re worrying about this more than anything else, you’re more than likely not putting total confidence in God’s Word, His love and His promises. Learn how to parent with confidence by being diligent to pray over these three areas and modeling right behavior for your children in love, and by doing so, you will combat the fear that so often threatens your peace as a parent.
The media your children consume (i.e., books, movies, television shows and games) is one of the biggest influencers they encounter outside of parental input. Instead of being fearful of what they read, watch and see when they’re out and about, make sure you feed their minds good media at home. Clarify what is and what isn’t allowed for them to watch, and talk to them about the messages contained in the media. Philippians 4:8 provides great guidelines: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Pre-screen books, movies and games. Make sure you’re comfortable with the things they read, watch and play, and discuss the media and their messages openly. If your children consume a steady diet of appropriate media at home while learning to think wisely about it (with an unshakable Christian worldview), it’s less of a problem when they encounter inappropriate or ungodly material elsewhere.
The struggle to keep your children’s bodies safe is one every parent faces. You can combat that anxiety with the Word. Philippians 4:6 encourages us. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” This applies to both the small things, and the important things.
For young children, do your best to provide a safe environment with safe equipment and due diligence by being aware of where they go and with whom they interact. Talk to them about making smart decisions as they play with their friends. (No jumping off roofs, please, or pulling a crazy stunt on a skateboard.) Then, ask the Holy Spirit to comfort you and give you the wisdom you need. Trust that He will do just that.
For older children, it’s vital to facilitate age-appropriate conversations about things like alcohol/drug usage, wholesome lifestyle practices, sexual activity and maintaining a healthy body image. If you remain calm and matter of fact when talking to your kids about these subjects, and talk about them often, they’ll feel more comfortable approaching you when they encounter a difficult or uncomfortable situation.
And finally, the most important area of development: your children’s spirits. One good way to combat fear in this area is to encourage godly friendships for your children. Make sure the kids they’re spending the most time with are children who share your family’s values, so they will help build up one another’s spirits.
You may also battle fear over your children’s salvation. So many parents fall into the trap of trying to “save” their children. You can, and should, stand in faith for each of your children’s salvation as well as “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6, KJV), but, ultimately, you are not responsible for their decisions to follow the Lord. Salvation is a gift from God, and from Him alone. As a brother or sister in the Lord, you are called to model godly behavior by training and walking in love with them. Encourage them to spend time with God and read the Word. Teach them to use the Word to combat the things they face and how to make decisions based on it, but realize that your children’s relationships with God are ultimately up to them.
Focusing on these three efforts by praying and being a righteous role model will help you parent with confidence and not fear. No doubt, parenting is a solemn and awesome responsibility. And as Christians, we’re called to fulfill that responsibility with faith, hope and love; never fear. If anxiety starts to creep into your spirit about your children, pray, speak the Word and remind yourself that God is for them (Romans 8:31), not against them. He is always working in your favor, and your children are even more precious to Him than they are to you. What a comforting thought! Your heavenly Father loves your children even more than you do! Trust Him, and let the knowledge of His love bring you peace today.