Recently as God was dealing with me in the area of fear, He began to reveal specific fears I had. I knew I was a fearful person in many ways. It started when I was quite young.
As a child, I can remember hiding behind my mother when meeting strangers.
I remember crying when I had to get my first job. I know, sounds silly.
There is nothing silly about fear though.
Fear is very real and very powerful in the way it affects our lives. It can cripple our living and hold us hostage to its impact.
I struggled with fears about storms, loved ones dying, disease, financial ruin, growing old, you name it…
One of the fears that I began to recognize I had and that God wanted to help me overcome was the fear of my children.
Yes, I was afraid of my children.
My guess is that I am not the only parent who struggles with this, and that’s why I am writing this blog…
It began soon after my first child was born. All of a sudden, the reality of life “hit me in the face” when I had a newborn who began to display a temper soon after birth. He was not happy when he had to wait for my milk to “let down” in order to guzzle his dinner as quickly as he wanted. I quickly learned tricks to settle him down so he could nurse, but I had already begun to feel like motherhood was not so easily controlled as I had envisioned.
That lack of control was not only something I feared, but my “need” for control was also indicative of a fear problem.
Becoming a mother personally was a bit of a rude awakening. I had held this “Cinderella” view of motherhood, and the reality just wasn’t like the fairy tale dreams.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a mother and I loved my son, but parenting was so much harder than it looked watching everyone else raise their children.
Then came the birth of my second child. I had two little ones, born 16 1/2 months apart, and they both were so needy. I was exhausted, was suffering from undiagnosed and untreated hypothyroidism (for the first several months), and began to feel incapable of being a “good” mommy to these two little boys.
Fast forward a few more years and a few more kids. The challenges kept increasing. I would seem to figure out a new technique for each new challenge, and then a new one would present itself.
With some challenges, it didn’t seem to matter how many techniques and methods and principles and advice I heard and read. The challenges didn’t seem to diminish or even to be improved effectively.
I became weary of bad or ineffective advice. I became weary of my own inconsistent and/or wrong application of good advice. Each new thing I heard seemed to be another “nail in my coffin” when it came to my role as a mom.
I felt like one big “failure.” I also began to fear my children.
You fear what you can’t control, and you try to control what you fear. Vicious cycle!
There are a lot of you reading this who think that you have never “feared” your children.
Fear though manifests itself in different ways.
- For some, fear takes the role of victim. The victim feels hopeless and helpless and unable to ever succeed.
- For some, fear takes the role of critic. As the book, Freedom From Fear, says, “The Critic never feels good about himself or what he has done. He is discouraged and defeated even before… [the fear] hits.”
- For some, fear takes the role of the perfectionist. As the book, Freedom From Fear, says, “They never have any peace of mind because they can never achieve perfection. Their overwhelming need to accomplish more and more makes them driven, stressed, irritable. … they can’t stand to fail, especially in public.”
Fear of your children manifests itself in two very different ways:
- You either give up, and your children dominate you. Children in this type of home are rebellious, disobedient, lack self-control, and are privately insecure. The victim mindset and the critic mindset can fit within this category.
- Or, your fear causes you to have unhealthy control over your children, and you dominate them. Your children will be very “controlled,” but the control isn’t healthy. It’s fear-based, manipulative, and will produce either rebellion or unhealthy dependence in your children. Your children will “appear” very obedient, but the reality is they have never been given the freedom to think their own thoughts and to determine their own convictions. You have determined them all for them. The perfectionist mindset fits in this category.
The root of both manifestations is the same motivation: fear.
It was recently said to me that wise parenting teaches children how to be good stewards of their freedom.
This means giving your children freedom and understanding that we must want our children to live freely the plan that God has for their lives — not that we have for their lives. It means giving our children the tools to wisely steward this freedom so that they can truly be and live the freedom God intended them to have!
My next blog post will address what the solutions are for finally overcoming this fear and finding freedom from it. Stay tuned.