3 Essential Truths for Stress-Free Parenting
I was at the doctor’s office the other day, enjoying chatting with the outgoing medical assistant who was taking my vital signs, when she began sharing that she feels under a lot of stress and suffers from anxiety. I asked the 27 year old what made her feel anxious, and she told me she started having panic attacks and became noticeably more anxious following the birth of her son almost two years ago. She remarked, “I realized that I was responsible for another person’s life, and I felt incapable of assuming the task of raising him, and overwhelmed by that reality.”
Being the parent of four adult children, I immediately understood what she meant because parenting--although arguably the most rewarding role a person can assume—certainly can be the most challenging one as well!
Every unwholesome fear and anxiety is rooted in a lie. As this precious young Mom shared about her anxiety, I recognized she was anxious because she believed the following lies: that she and her husband were primarily responsible for the welfare of their son; that it was their responsibility to determine what was best for their son; and that they could somehow control what would happen to him so that he wouldn’t experience harm or suffering. The lies that she believes are common to many parents and it’s vitally important that we recognize and remember the following truths as we parent:
1) That God is the Creator of our child’s life and the One Who is ultimately responsible for his or her life. God has given us the privilege and responsibility to raise ‘His’ child in accordance with His Word and His will, and we are to remember at all times that ‘our child’ is first and foremost ‘His child’. Baby dedications in some churches and infant baptism in others acknowledge that children are from the Lord and to be dedicated to Him. However, all too often parents can look at that as a one-time event rather than an ongoing decision and we are to continuously look to and dedicate the child entrusted to us to the Lord.
2) That God alone knows what is best for our child and He has given instruction in His Word regarding what will lead to abundant and eternal life for all mankind, including our children. Fortunately, our role as parents isn’t to determine what is rightfor our child; God alone knows what is right as well as best for them. He has made what is right and best very clear in His Word, the bible—we are to teach our child what is right in God’s eyes, not in our own. As parents we have the responsibility to know God’s Word for ourselves so we can impart His truth to our children. We are to instill in our child the truth that their life is not their own, it is the Lord’s, and to continuously point our child to God their Heavenly Father, to foster in our child a love for God and His Word, to teach our child God’s Word, to encourage him or her to trust in God at all times, to instruct them to obey His Word and to discipline them when they don’t; and to pray for our child. (Deuteronomy 4:9; 6:1-7; Psalm 78:4; Ephesians 6:4)
3) Only God is Sovereign, ALWAYS loving, and able to protect your child from harm. Even when your child does suffer harm—which is inevitable in this fallen world-- you can trust that God has allowed it to occur and He is able to use even that suffering for the good of your child and the glory of His Name! The reality is that even if you were around your child 24/7—which you know is impossible—you could not protect him or her from all harm. And, doing so might not be in the best interest of your child even if you could protect him/her. There can be such a release from stress and anxiety when we know and believe that God is always acting on behalf of our child, even when things happen that we wouldn’t have allowed… because God is wiser than we, His ways our greater than ours, and He is able to use all things for our good and for His glory! (Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 8:28)Our job in the midst of our child’s suffering is to point him or her to look to Jesus Who learned obedience from suffering, became a suffering servant for their sake, and Who is able to use all suffering for His good purposes—just like He used Christ’s suffering and death to bring about the salvation of mankind! (Hebrews 5:8; Isaiah 53; Isaiah 61:3;Philippians 2:1-11) The suffering the Lord uses in our lives and in the lives of our children are often the very instruments of His grace that are needed to lead us to recognize our dependence upon Him, and to form His character in us.
What joy and relief there is in knowing that we are not the ones stuck with the impossible task of having to figure out how to raise our child—He has given us the bible as our ‘instruction manual’! What joy and relief there is in knowing that ‘our child’ is truly ‘God’s child’ Who loves our child more than we ever could and Who alone is all-powerful and totally trustworthy, and nothing can thwart His will! He is the One Who ‘fearfully and wonderfully’ made our child, and has bestowed upon them gifts and abilities for their good and for His divine purposes! You can most definitely trust your children to the One Who made them and gave His very life for them to always do what is best for them! ((Psalm 139; Romans 8:32)
If you have an adult child whom you didn’t raise ‘in the fear and admonition of the Lord’ and you now regret the parenting choices you made, I encourage you to pour out your heart to the Lord, ask Him to forgive you, and commit and entrust your child into God’s all-loving and all-powerful care! We have a God Who is able to ‘restore the years the locusts have eaten’—He can still make ‘beauty from ashes’ in your life as well as in the life of your adult child! No one is so far away that the Lord cannot redeem them! (Lamentations 2:19; 1stJohn 1:9; Psalm 37:5; Proverbs 3:5-7; Joel 2:25; Isaiah 59:1)
If you have children at home, remember the best thing you can do as a parent is to ‘love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength’ and to teach your child to do the same! Undoubtedly, you like every human parent, will make mistakes, but remember that God’s grace is sufficient for your every need and He can fill up what is lacking in you! Confess to Him your desperate need for Him, commit your child into His care, ask Him to give you His wisdom and to lead and guide you as you parent ‘His child’! Consider this: How different do you think your parenting and stress level would be if instead of ‘stewing about things’ or perhaps seeking the guidance of worldly friends about decisions regarding your children, you diligently studied God’s Word and went before the Lord in prayer to ask for His guidance and direction? He longs to come alongside you in every way to parent Hs child that He has entrusted to you!
Lord, I recognize that I can’t control every aspect of my child’s life. And even if I could, I know that I wouldn’t be always doing what is right for them because I have limited knowledge, limited love, often selfish motives and an impure heart. You alone are all wise, all knowing, always loving, and fully trustworthy! Help me to daily—even minute by minute—remember that ‘my child’ is ‘Your child’ and to look to You and to your Word to guide me in teaching my child what is right so that he/she will live abundantly here on earth and eternally with You in heaven! May I be found faithful to teach and instruct my child in the truth and knowledge of Your Word, and may I love them as You have so faithfully loved me so that they will be drawn into a relationship with You, the Author and Perfecter of their faith! Into Your loving and capable hands I commit my child! Amen.
Written by Julie Van Gorp