For those of us who are parents, I believe there is one constant among us: we love our kids.
In the spirit of that love, and sometimes in a more prideful spirit, we give our kids advice, provide support, discipline them, and protect them. After all, who wants to see their kid hurting, right? But as our kids get older and begin to make their own decisions, we need to reflect upon things that we do in the name of protection. Sometimes we are correct, sometimes we are just enjoying being in control, and sometimes it really gets down to this question, “Are we really trusting God with our kids, or not?”
This is definitely a difficult topic. It brings in preferences about parenting styles, the history of how we were raised, and how we apply our faith in God to our parenting.
My children are now 19 and 20. As I look back over their lives, I would have to say that I erred too much on the side of protecting my children from pain, particularly the pain of negative consequences for their faulty decisions, actions, or attitudes. Of course, when they were younger that was much more necessary.
We certainly need to be responsible and loving parents and protect our children from physical illness and injury. However, as they move into middle school and beyond, we need to balance our protection of them and our allowing them to feel consequences, or “pain,” of some of their mistakes. I admit, for me this has been very difficult to do.
I recently was listening to a sermon about how God uses our painful situations for our good, our growth, and the good of others. I am not saying that God causes the pain, or likes to see us in pain, but rather that He can use it for His good purposes. While that is always a “hard pill to swallow” for ourselves, it is nearly an “impossible pill to swallow,” when it comes to our children! I mean, I can go through the pain for my own growth and God’s plans, but let my kid go through it without interfering? No way!
If my child is in the path of pain, I must head it off, right? Well, the answer may be yes or it may be no.
There are times when the answer is a resounding “YES!” Are they in patterns of self-destructive behaviors or other-destructive behaviors, like habitual substance abuse, addictions, or abuse of others? By all means, we have to do everything we can as parents to not only pray through this, but to take action as we can best discern needs to be taken.
There are other times, however, when our interference and control, in the name of protecting our children from pain or consequences, is a sign that we really think we know more about their lives than God does. It can be a sign that, as they are growing older, we are holding on too tightly to control of their lives. Sometimes, it is a matter of trusting God.
It is a matter of trusting God.
I am not a health professional or parent professional. I am just a dad and husband who seeks the Lord for help and modeling when it comes to being a dad. I know one way that we are the same as God when it comes to parenting: God loves His kids and so do we! And God uses both situations of blessing and situations of struggle to grow us, to grow our kids, and to help us develop faith in Him.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)
So what are some action steps as we consider all of this? Here a few that may help, especially for parents of older kids:
- Trust God and go to Him in prayer more frequently when it comes to your parenting style and decisions. He will guide you, but you need to have an active relationship with Him. Just like any other relationship or worthwhile endeavor, that takes time, commitment, and practice.
- Don’t be in such a hurry to protect your children (when appropriate and not dangerous) from negative experiences or consequences. There might be an opportunity for growth that God can use through that situation.
- Keep the lines of communication open with your kids. This takes patience, grace, and good listening skills. You may not always agree or enjoy what they are saying, but ongoing communication is definitely better than no communication at all (that is very similar to our relationship with God).
- Look at God’s balance of grace, love, and discipline with you. Try to have a better balance, with God’s help, in parenting your own children.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8
Brian Goslee is an author, speaker, and founder of Changed Through Faith Ministries . Their mission is to help fathers and sons grow closer to God and each other, using fun and relevant faith-infused events and resources. Brian’s life has been radically changed through active faith in Christ and he has a heart for helping others experience this in their lives.