We all know that fear casts out perfect love… wait, I mean perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:8). One of the biggest crimes we commit as parents is giving worry and fear space to live and move in our hearts and thoughts. I can hear the alarms of justification and excuses resounding! “I’m just protecting them” or “the world is getting worse and worse!” Why is it that we desire to protect and defend our fear and worry?
Here is a hard truth that we all need to hear today (I need to remind myself of this daily)… when we worry, it does not make our children safer or more protected. In other words, our children do not benefit one iota from our worry. Philippians 4:6 tells us, “don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything” (notice the order?). It goes on to say that if we can take on the challenge to do this, to give our worries and anxieties to God, only then will we experience the peace we are seeking. Verse 8 gives us the next action steps; “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Yes, the world is broken. Yes, the enemy hates us and our children. But we can not afford to teach our children how to worry. Instead, we must teach them to pray and to think on the Philippians 6:8 list. We always have the choice about where to fix our thoughts. Having real concerns about our children is inevitable, and of course we should not ignore them. Please don’t confuse care and concern for anxiety. However, we often allow parental foresight, discernment, and concern to transform into worry, which grows into fear. When we parent from a place of fear, our focus is incorrect and we end up being disobedient to God’s word. I know that may be a tough thing to hear, but it’s so important that we would understand this truth.
Be honest with your kids; turn your moments of fear into teaching moments! Something like this: “Sweetheart, I’m worried about _________ right now. But you know what? Worrying makes me feel yucky and makes me think about more bad things. When I feel afraid, I imagine that I am giving my fear or worry to God and when He takes it away from me, He gives me a gift back. It’s the gift of peace!” It is unhelpful for us to hide this process from our kids! Lead them in this area and be an example of real relationship with God. When we take on the challenge to exchange fear for freedom, they get to see the miracles that flow from prayer in action.
I love this quote from Joyce Meyer. She says that instead of being fixated on worry and fear in our lives, “we can mentally rehearse and continually confess the promises of God over our lives and the lives of our children.” I certainly don’t want to give my mental energy and thought-life to the enemy. I will choose to use the list in Philippians 6:8 to combat the inevitable worries that will try to tempt me away from peace. I will choose to “mentally rehearse” and “continually confess” the promises of God instead of the “what if’s” when I am afraid.
Questions to wrestle with:
• Where do I draw the line between appropriate care and concern (don’t run into the street) and worry (I can’t stop worrying about them running into the street)?
• Am I engaged in any “care-taking” or “enabling” behavior that’s driven by fear?
• Do I defend or excuse my anxiety as a parent? How can I choose to surrender it to God instead?
By Kegan Mosier, MA, LPCC
Husband to Mikelle
Dad of one daughter, Reese Noel
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Mental Health Counselor at Cornerstone Christian Counseling,
Worship/Creative Ministries Pastor at Passionate Life Church