Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Generation Sissy-Pants

Are you a fearless parent? I understand that it seems as much an oxymoron as good colonoscopy or sugar free cheesecake. (Colonoscopy and cheesecake in one sentence? Wow, this post is off to a fantastic start.) Fearless parenting is possible. I promise.

If humans are not born with a spirit of fear where did the knowledge, understanding and submission to fear come from? Yes, fear is created from the knowledge of evil but infants and two year olds don't understand evil. Who does? Their parents. My belief is that parents inflict a crippling sense of fear on their children from the day they were born. Like it or not, I have done this very thing to my child unintentionally. I have gasped when she does something that I fear, I have told her not to do things when I fear that she might scrape a knee, fear, worry, panic, etc. etc. This is what most people would consider "good parenting" so how can this (in my opinion) be crippling a whole generation of children?

All the children see is a parent who worries, fusses over their every move and has a constant attitude of fear for their child's safety and well being.
Think about this. If a child saw his or her parents praying over a situation rather than fearing it how do you think it would affect them? If you encouraged your child to swim instead of fussing, panicking and putting them in every flotation device known to man don't you think that they may have more confidence and better success swimming? What if instead of telling the child that they can't climb the jungle gym by themselves you told them that you had faith in them and you knew that all things are possible through Christ and that God has their safety in His hands?

That's all good and swell until the kid falls and ends up the hospital with 30 stitches and a broken arm, right? Maybe not.

Let's look at the long term goal, here. Do you want your child to be afraid to try new things, go new places and reach new goals? Do you want your child to be too suffocated with worry and fear that they never reach for their dreams? Fear starts small and it all starts with us - the parents.

Parents we need to get on our knees. We need to be constantly praying for the safety and well being of our children and we should be doing it in front of our children. Imagine growing up knowing that there is a God who loves you, knows you and has His hand of protection around you. That's pretty awesome. Just as importantly we need to be aware of how we react to situations in front of them. If we gasp and cry, rush to their side and hover over them every time they bonk their head or skin their knee we are only creating a sense of fear in them. They will now be afraid to fall down. If they are too afraid to fall how are they ever going to learn to get back up?

By worrying over them we effectively counteract everything we have ever told them about God and the protection and gifts He has given them. Our children are not going to learn to be brave and confident if we are not bravely confident in our God. God has it under control, parents. I promise. Let's take a step back, pray and have confident faith that God knows what's best for our children. Let's promise to instill a sense of courage, power and a knowledge of God and His strength in them. For a child to know that they are a directly connected to the current of the God that created the heavens and the earth... that's better than being Batman's wing-man.

Personal blip - Brinley has always been a very brave and tough child. I very firmly believe it is because we have not raised her with a spirit of fear. We are encourage her to do new things and do not flutter over her with worry and panic when she falls or messes up. We pick her up, kiss the boo-boo, assure her that she's okay and send her on her way. If we showed fear every time she fell down the steps, stubbed her toe, closed her fingers in the fridge or got scratched by the dogs she would grow up too afraid to do a lot of things.

This summer Brinley has become infatuated with swimming. (Watch out Nemo and Lightning McQueen, my daughter likes water more than you.) She wears floaties and sunscreen and has the time of her life. As a mom it was all too easy for me to panic every time she would bob in the water unevenly or get chlorine in her eyes, but I had to learn to take a step back, have faith in God's protection around her and let her learn. Now, let me be clear, I was not in the house drinking mimosas while my two year old daughter went for a swim. I (and many other people) were in the pool with her but never fussing over her or encouraging a spirit of fear.

This past weekend Brinley encountered a slide (an eight foot, curved slide that leads directly into the deep end of the pool to be specific). My immediate reaction is - Heck, I wouldn't even go down that slide so naturally there's no way Brinley would. I was wrong. I watched her repeatedly get out of the pool, walk over to the stairs, climb up, sit down and slide down (often head first) into the pool. Every single time she laughed on the way down and was still laughing when she came above the water. I could not be more proud.

It's moments like these that I pray and thank God that I have a healthy, confident and brave daughter that falls and knows how to get back up, that isn't afraid to do down the slide head first into the deepend and that knows her God loves her. That makes all the bumps and scrapes worth it.

Please understand that I am not saying that I have it all figured out or that my way of parenting is the only way. With that said, I honestly believe that we are raising a generation of children who are going to be too afraid to fail, fall or try new things because the parents have instilled a spirit of fear in them, not of faith. Lets be the different ones. Let's encourage and pray for our children.

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