The Fear and Anxiety of Parenting

You guys, allow me to be really honest here. I hear so many stories throughout my day that are hard and scary and brutal. When it comes to allowing my kids out of the house, all those stories come back to me and it is VERY difficult not to think about them and try to prevent any of these things from happening to my kids. I want to safeguard them and keep them from any harm. Translation—I want to wrap them in bubble wrap and keep them in the house forever. I suppose that’s a natural thing for a mom to want.

But I can’t prevent most things that my kids are exposed to. I can’t be with them 24/7 and keep any bad thing from happening in their lives. I can’t control the influences on them forever, allowing only positive and uplifting people in their lives.

It’s hard and it brings crazy anxiety when I battle it. I have to remember a few things in order to restore sanity.

First, I HAVE to trust God with my kids. Whether it’s good, bad or ugly, God only allows that which will draw them to Him in their lives. I can’t explain that, and I really don’t like the painful things. But I do believe that God loves them more than I do, and my attempts to control are not necessarily His plan for them. See my post on suffering for more on the picture God has given me about that.

Second, I get to walk with them through these things. That is a privilege, and I open the way to that through honesty and humility. I must admit to them when I mess up, asking forgiveness and demonstrating that I don’t get it right all the time. I want them to be able to come to me when they fail, when they don’t understand and when then they are hurt because they know I get it.

One thing I have heard repeated multiple times in counseling is that people didn’t know their parents ever failed and had a crazy standard to live up to, or they watched their parents fail but never admit to it. It was confusing as a kid to see that kind of hypocrisy, and they ended up hiding everything because they knew they wouldn’t be met with any grace. I pray that my kids won’t have to be there because they see their mom as a weak woman who needs Jesus and will understand failing because she does it a lot!

Third, I have to set up one of my mental roadblocks to all the worst-case scenarios that I want to imagine. We moms are pretty good at picturing all of those. If my kid is standing even near a railing up high, I have already pictured them jumping on it, falling over it and crashing to their death at the bottom. And they haven’t even touched the railing!!

Any time I am tempted to obsess on the possibilities that could happen to my children, I have to choose to focus somewhere else. I am not preparing myself for the pain by doing this—I am, instead, allowing anxiety to control and dictate my day, and by default, my children’s day also. I don’t want to make decisions based on fear.

Here’s the thing—perfect love casts out fear. So, when I believe that Jesus loves me and my kids with an enduring, faithful, never-absent love, I can move forward without fear. I want that for my kids, and I want that for you and your kids. This love of God does not mean we will not have pain, suffering or frustration. It does mean, though, that at the end of it all, God has brought us closer to Himself and to His purpose in our lives—and that of our kids. I have to trust Him on that one, as I don’t have the perspective that He does. This trust, though, lets me to breathe a deep sigh of relief and allow my kids to move forward in His love rather than under my control and fear.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. 1 John 4:18-19

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