My eldest son is a born leader with his own ideas about things. Although submission is hard for him, he had always been respectful and obedient to our wishes as his parents. Then he turned eighteen and got a tattoo.
What did his dad and I do? We did what most parents do. We panicked and responded in fear. I was worried that a tattoo would prevent him from getting a good job. I was concerned what others would think. I was anxious about where he got the tattoo and if the equipment was sanitary enough. I was terribly disappointed and heartbroken so I condemned and judged his decision. In turn, our son packed his clothes and left home, taking my heart with him.
For two weeks I didn’t know where he was or who he was with. His dad and I left messages on his cell phone demanding that he return our calls, but he never did. Overwhelmed with fear, I turned to prayer. I was desperate for God’s wisdom and guidance. My eyes were opened as I read, “Fathers [or mothers] do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
I had overreacted in fear. My disapproval and accusations only infuriated my adult son and caused him to flee. It was fear that caused me to mistrust and misjudge the situation. Fear-driven parenting does just that. It can also drive a child down the path we are so fearfully trying to avoid. This is not God’s plan.
To prevent fear-driven parenting, you and I must examine our fears before we act. We should evaluate our concerns with reasoning. To do so, ask yourself these three questions:
Will my child’s decision bring harm to him/her or others?
Will my child’s actions affect him/her spiritually?
If our concerns cannot be validated we need to cast our concerns on God and trust Him with the outcome.
Sure, the child may end up stepping into a pit as a result of his choice, but allowing your child to step in the pit is the only way he’ll learn to avoid it in the future.
My son, who I thought was made in my own image, actually had dreams and a God-given purpose of his own. I had to let go of my own dreams, expectations, and fears and accept him as he was, tattoo and all. Once again, I phoned my son. This time it was to ask his forgiveness. When the machine answered, I poured out my heart. “Son, it’s Mom. I love you. Will you forgive me?” He picked up the phone and the restoration of our relationship began.
Fear-driven parenting can destroy trust in the relationship between parent and child. It can also prevent us from allowing our children to make mistakes and grow from them. My job, and yours, is to guide, nurture, and raise self-disciplined children who know how to make good decisions. It’s not our duty to smother, control, or overprotect them. While some fears are valid and require parental action, others are not justified and need to be trusted to God’s care.
Micca Campbell-Helping Women Live Carefree in God’s Care