Parents, Don’t Fear!
Parents, Don’t Fear!
Did you know that many of today’s working parents spend as much if not more time engaged in parenting activities with their children than stay-at-home parents did in the 1970s? As a parent of three little children, I found myself shocked to hear that. An article written in the New York Times stated that parents were “hyper-involved.” While you would think positive things would come from this more involved form of parenting, what has been discovered is that “parents have more anxiety and less satisfaction with life.”
The article is worth the read, but immediately after reading that article is another article by Adrien Segal, which you should read. She interacts with the piece and approaches it from the perspective of a Christian World-View. She states that while parents may be driven by economic reasons, other parents are driven by a desire for their children to be happy. While this is often motivated by love, the hard truth is that what is behind the drive to sacrifice everything for children is often fear. Parents, even Christian parents, are afraid. We have anxiety about our children’s futures, their financial position in the world, their safety in school and in society in general, and their spiritual lives. Here’s what Segal has to say:
When, as parents, we become driven by fears for our children’s well-being, we are forgetting what we know about the goodness of our God. God promises us that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).
When we are anxious about whether our children will be able to get good jobs or be able to provide for themselves or their families, yes, we should make sure they get a good education and learn to work hard. Still, we also need to remember and be teaching them the higher truth in Philippians 4:19: “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Our children’s ultimate provision is not up to our effort or theirs, but to God’s.
So as we raise our children, we must not be driven by fear but by an abiding sense that God is our sovereign provider. We draw encouragement to parent well not out of fear for the future but on the reality that although we are inadequate, God delights to show His strength through our weakness. Though we will make mistakes in parenting, God’s grace is more than sufficient for us. This is no more clear than in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Here’s another excerpt from Segal’s article:
Because of the saving grace available through Jesus Christ, Christians need never parent out of fear of punishment for getting it wrong. God knows we will not always get it right. God’s love rests on the perfect sacrifice of his beloved Son, Jesus, who did get it all right. Yes, there are consequences for foolish decisions, and we should make every effort to make responsible, godly decisions, and teach our children to do so. Still, our future and the future we want for our children does not rest on our getting everything right. Isn’t that wonderful news?
It is so freeing to know that our God is not standing somewhere on the sidelines waiting to see if we will get our children into the right schools, or involve them in enough sports, or even protect them from every possible earthly danger so that they never experience suffering. God holds our children’s future, and he is eager to guide and direct our parenting to help lead our children toward the things that assure a deeper joy and satisfaction than anything the world will ever be able to provide.
So when you are tempted to be a “hyper-parent,” remember that God is ultimately in control. Do everything you can to provide, love, and raise your children to succeed both spiritually and physically. But always remember that nothing in this world will ever give them lasting satisfaction like God and only God can. So make every effort to love your children but introduce them to God, their Creator, and Provider, and teach them that ultimate joy doesn’t come from their parents or their success but that it comes in the presence of God.