September 5, 2012

Are You A Fear-Driven Parent?

My eldest 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, my son packed his clothes and left home, taking my heart with him.

All this over a tattoo!

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. I admit 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.

Knowing when to protect our children and knowing when to let them guard themselves can be difficult. What’s harder is identifying fear-driven parenting that can destroy trust in the relationship between parent and child. Fear-based parenting 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. Until you and I seek and trust the guidance of God and His counsel, we won’t be able to discern between the two. Our decisions will be based on fear instead of faith. When this happens, the results can be dire.

You and I must prevent fear-driven parenting. How? We examine our fears before we act. We should evaluate our concerns with reasoning. To do so, I ask myself three questions:

1. Will my child’s decision bring harm to him/her or others?

2. Will my child’s actions affect him/her spiritually?

3. Is the child’s behavior, goal, or desire age appropriate?

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 the teen to step in the pit is the only way he/she will 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 Mitch. This time it was to ask his forgiveness. When the machine answered, I poured out my heart. “I love you, son. Will you forgive me?” Mitch picked up the phone and the restoration of our relationship began.

Fear-driven parenting is never a good thing. The surest way to defuse fear is by living according to God’s plan. Take note of this promise.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” (Psalms 127:1). God becomes the Master-builder of our home when we trust Him to do what we can’t. He’s the only builder who guarantees His work.

This confidence in God draws us away from our own excessive works and anxious cares. Realizing our fragile state and our inability to secure the family by our own accomplishments shouldn’t cause fear. It should point us toward the Faithful One who is able to keep our family. God bestows His blessing on those who trust Him and seek His favor and guidance. What is that blessing? It’s a household of faith built and kept by God.

Discussion questions: Share your thoughts in the comment section

Would you describe yourself as a fear-driven parent or a faith driven parent? Explain.

What are your children learning from your actions—faith or fear? Explain.

What are some ways you can trust the Master Builder to build your house of faith?

Challenge this week is when your child asks to do something, check your fear by asking the three questions:

1. Will my child’s decision bring harm to him/her or others?

2. Will my child’s actions affect him/her spiritually?

3. Is the child’s behavior, goal, or desire age appropriate?

I’m praying for you this week!

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  1. Micca, I have shared with you how much I disliked Chapter 5 when I first read it. But our God is so good, by the time I finished Chapter 5, God soothed my aching heart so much by showing me that He has been in control all along and even through our family struggles He has the final say. Our family has been redeemed by God and if it’s possible for our family – it’s possible for ANY family.

    I can’t thank you enough for this book and sharing your story. Each of you P31 ladies has healed a deeply hurt place inside me just by sharing your story, being open & honest and being an example of just how to take those broken pieces to our Father.

  2. I’m a little further ahead in the book than this chapter but God wanted me to review! My oldest son is a senior in high school. Top of his class academically, on his way to Annapolis, great athlete, very involved in church. On the outside he looks like the perfect kid. But when he makes a mistake…oh its a big one. And as of late..its all too often. Its been said in our home that he has all the brain smarts but no commen sense (opposite is his younger brother). I know my son is trying to stretch his independent wings but I worry we’ve not given him all the tools he needs to lead an honorable life. Character, integrity, honesty, family values, good stewardship. All these things in my mind we still need to work on. I know God has a plan for my big boy and this message today after already moving on to the next chapters, I know is him telling me “I have this, don’t worry.”

  3. I think this chapter was written just for me:-) I have younger children and yesterday was my 3 year olds first day of preschool and I saw my fear raring it’s ugly head. I am very sad to say I sat in the parking lot with my 1 year old almost 3 hours. The one time I left I was scared that I would come back to ambulances in the parking lot. Believe it or not I have actually come a long way. I’m trying to jump in Gods arms and just let Him do the rest!

  4. God bestows His blessing on those who trust Him and seek His favor and guidance. What is that blessing? It’s a household of faith built and kept by God.
    It is this last paragraph that spoke to me…we have an autistic child. He is a twin and has two older sisters. His siblings have all shown faith in Christ as Lord and Savior. Because of autism though, I don’t know where David stands. Because God has blessed me with 3 kids who follow Him, I am trusting that we have a household of faith and that David is being “kept by God” too, even though I really can’t see it now.
    Thank you Micca…it was encouraging, as always.

  5. Being a parent of older kids, (all in college and grad school) I can say I finally got to where I was more of a faith driven parent, with little set backs into fear depending on the severity of what popped up! All of it is trusting God — instead of the circumstance and it is also trusting God with them and how you’ve raised them. This year has been a year of change in my household. I don’t do change well. So it’s been a challenge to walk that out by faith. My son who is a senior in college and playing a college sport has been through 3 tough years with a coach that has not modeled appropriate behavior. Parents got involved in a sticky process and while we all thought the coach should be fired, God had another plan. He has remained, things have already started happening at school, that appear to be for the better. I encouraged my son not to quit and to stick with it, forgive and give the guy another chance, because I knew first-hand walking away from a tough situation instead of dealing with it is not always the right answer… because if God wants you to learn something, He will just bring it back around to you to deal with! Things are not perfect, but I can tell my son feels more empowered in that he faced an issue, he is dealing with it and he feels like now he has a voice and he can make a difference. The mom in me at first said to my husband, I want him to quit! I want him to be happy! But I’m glad that I filtered that through with my husband, we prayed about it and through the course of the summer months we saw a different answer, one that I think is exactly what God intended. Gen. 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
    Love that!!

  6. Boy can I relate to this story! I have 3 kids who are 18, 19 & 21 and have thrown me for several “loops” with their decisions! I was raised in a home of fear based parenting and repeated the pattern with my own kids. But praise God it is not the end of the story. The last 6 months have been the hardest parenting years yet, but God is working in me to trust Him with my kids lives. As hard as it may be to fathom, he loves them even more than I do and He is in constant pursuit of their hearts. I can trust Him to work all of this for our good. It is a continuing process to retrain my mind to seek him in my moments of fear when my kids make life choices that are cause for concern, but He will be faithful to complete what He is starting.

  7. WOW ! God has used you today to guide me with my 18 year old son. His older brother died 14 years ago & I truly believe I’ve been so fearful letting him go because of my loss of his brother. When a mother’s worst fear comes true ,it’s hard to not fear of losing another child.My son is going off to a trade school , over 3 hours away, in a month. Even now,he is wanting to spread his wings & I NEED to chose which battles are worth fighting over. I would so appreciate prayer as I don’t want to push him away but truly want to be a God trusting parent & not a fear driven one that I’m so guilty of being. Please pray for me & thanks again !!!

  8. I think I have been fear based parenting. I wouldn’t have said so in their early years, but as they grew older and the challenges of our society have come crowding in, fear has come.
    I know that God is our only defense and our only help.
    I am not their Holy Spirit. I can’t change their hears, only God can.
    Until two years ago, I either experienced very little fear or didn’t recognize it. A couple of years ago, my son started making some really bad decisions(experimenting with marijuana). I was totally oblivious to this until he told me what he had been doing. Things got a lot better for a year, then he started dating a girl that was not a Christian, has bipolar disorder, and really believes that marijuana is OK. I really am not sure where he stands now. He says the right things, but has gotten into the habit of lying to me. My heart is heavy for him. His whole life before him and he is not seeking God with all of his heart so he can make the right decisions
    God is my help. He loves him so much more than I do. I pray that he will seek God and that God will put the right people in his life to steer him where I can’t.
    Thank you for your study! I look forward to it!

  9. My 17 year old ran away after he was forbidden to see his girlfriend. There were several reasons both for spiritual and physical harm, and I know telling him that relationship had to end was the right thing to do. After a couple months (I still don’t know where he is) I am able to accept God will finish the work He started in him and He will fulfill the purpose in his life. All I can do is pray until my prodigal comes to his senses.

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