Sometimes the most insidious fear is the one with no practical, tangible remedy. This fear is based less on physical surroundings or circumstance and more on what may—or may not—show up down the road based on decisions we make right now.
What if I discipline my child in an effort to gain respect but I get rebellion instead?
What if my efforts to teach independence leave my child feeling isolated and alone?
What if I try to show support but later find out my child feels pressure instead?
I remember feeling this fear when I decided to wean my toddlers from their binkies. I had several reasons I thought it was time, but inevitably they disagreed. They weren’t concerned about their speech development or their oral health or my desires that they seek more relational ways to address their emotional upsets. They just wanted their binkies, and so they cried and pleaded and complained and cried and cried some more. And I calmly said no and assured them they were all right and held them and soothed them and even cried along with them. And the whole time I questioned myself: Am I making a mistake? Should I just give in and let this go? Am I hurting them when my intention is to help?
Parents, let me tell you, do not give in to the fear.
Should we evaluate our decisions? Yes, we should. Should we be willing to change course if our initial plan of action seems to be steering us in the wrong direction? Absolutely.
But parents, we need to remember that we have more experience, more knowledge, and more know-how than the little children in our charge. We were once where they are now, but we grew past it and learned and gained wisdom along the way. We need to stand firm in that wisdom with the confidence that we, as parents, know a thing or two that our kids don’t, and we needn’t let our insecurities or their tantruming voices determine our choices.
Next time you discipline your child and he doesn’t like it, remember that “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, if produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11) No matter how wisely you discipline, chances are your child will not thank you for it in the moment. Dismiss the fear, and discipline with confidence anyway.
Next time you think your child is up for a challenge but they struggle and complain, claiming they can’t do it? Remember it’s okay for our kids to experience hardship, struggle, and failure. Our job is not to make life easy, but to prepare them for the road ahead with all its bumps. Dismiss the fear and guide with confidence, reminding them you are their ally the whole length of the journey.
Next time you encourage your child to pursue an interest but their commitment vacillates or wanes? Exercise your wisdom and trust your expertise as a parent. For as many kids who rejoice because their parents stopped making them take piano lessons, there are just as many who say they wish their parents hadn’t let them quit. Know your child, use your best judgment, and move forward in humility and good faith. Dismiss the fear and walk in confidence.
You are a parent which means you are a leader. Walk with confidence in that leadership. If you were following someone who changed course every time a complaint or question arose, might you begin to wonder if he or she should really be the one blazing the trail? Our kids need leaders, and as parents we’re the first ones assigned to the task.