There are some mornings when I wake up with a knot in my stomach and questions on my mind. Sometimes I even cry about my parenting mistakes. Maybe you’ve been there too. (Or questions and worries nag you while you’re trying to sleep at night.) The questions go something like this: “Am I doing this parenting thing right? Are my kids going to choose to follow Christ? Are they going to be OK?”
There are any number of things that can trigger these questions. They can come from a disrespectful tone or sour attitude in my child’s response, sibling conflict, or my own grumpy and sinful disposition. If left unchecked, those questions, those thoughts, can start me on a negative downward spiral. One thing I’m quite sure of is this: I am not a very good parent when I parent from a place of fear and anxiety.
Parenting from fear and anxiety
My mind wanders and I envision worst-case scenarios where typical child and teen behaviors turn into juvenile delinquency. I become accusatory instead of inquisitive. Suspicious instead of supportive. Negative rather than affirming. That’s not the parent I want to be! And sometimes I cry and beat myself up and wonder how God will ever redeem the mistakes I’ve made.
And then, in my place of brokenness and desperation, I hear God calling me back to Himself. He says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, rejoice. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
It is here that I can rest. It is here that I find the antidote for what ails me. Paul wrote this letter from prison, his own future uncertain, to believers who were in difficult circumstances themselves. His words are telling. I trade my anxiety and fear in to God as I pray and rejoice. He then replaces it with peace that protects my heart and mind in Jesus. And when my heart is filled with that peace, the day always goes better.
Getting my thinking back in alignment with the peace that God can provide through His grace and truth is an important part of parenting.
Try asking yourself these questions
- When you feel anxious and fearful, how does your mind wander?
- What scripture does God use to realign your heart?
- What is something that reminds you of God’s peace when things get negative?
What are your parenting strengths?
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