If you’re reading this you’re probably in a season of parenting, most likely you are parenting a “Homelander”. This is the designation given to the generation following the Millennials who were born on or after 9/11 and have never known life without Homeland Security, color coded terror threat levels and the excessive media coverage of tragedy. Is this a new phenomenon? Ask the kids who have grown up in Israel or Bosnia/Croatia. Ask children from the Sudan if they remember living in relative peace. Perhaps you can ask your parents about the Cold War “duck and cover” drills they had in school! But those are all for another blog post, I want to talk about what we can do to parent in a Culture of Fear.
Hebrews 11:6 says “without faith it is impossible to please God.” Fear is the antithesis of faith not doubt. Fear is paralyzing, counterproductive and frankly unspiritual! “God has not given us a spirit of fear…” says 2 Timothy 1:7 yet as a parent in this culture I am constantly conditioned to operate out of fear. My own tendency to protect and nurture my kids is natural and I believe to be God given. How then can we navigate parenting our elementary kid who has a classmate shot at school? Though not exhaustive, below are some launching points for you as a parent to be prepared for successfully navigating a Culture of Fear.
1. Realize no one loves our kid(s) like God does. Psalm 127 reminds us that “Children are a gift from the Lord.” He created them. He loves them. He entrusted them to us! Ultimately, we will stand before the Lord to give account of how we stewarded these small humans entrusted to us. God’s plan for them is better than ours!
2. Admit that we don’t have it all figured out. My kids ask questions. Sometimes questions I do not know the answer to. Don’t be embarrassed about not knowing. Simply affirm to your child that you can discover the answer together. Particularly when it comes to the “why do bad things happen?” question. Remember that when sin entered the world everything broke (Genesis 3). These lines of questioning help develop a Biblical worldview in your kids if leveraged properly.
3. Don’t parent alone. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” This MIGHT sound like a shameless plug, but there is no way I would want to parent outside of a group of encouraging people in the local church! Large group worship is great, I love it, but my parenting has been made better by the 6-7 sets of parents that I meet with weekly in my home based small group. We carpool, feed each other’s kids and bounce ideas off one another. Single parents especially, find a local church and plug into a small group!
4. Have consistent age appropriate conversations. I have a High schooler, middle schooler and an elementary aged child. Not every subject is covered with each one, but everyday a subject is. Yesterday, I sat them down individually and talked gun safety. (for the 100th time) I remind my elementary age child about strangers and safe adults, my high schooler about never excepting a drink from someone and my middle schooler about online conversations. Same premise, but each different at every phase of life. The POINT is have conversations. I know, it’s been a long day, you’ve worked hard, and you want a little peace and quiet. But the world has been bombarding your kids all day with its messages - will you take the time to influence them?
5. Have Family Bible study. With all the messages in the world, I just don’t know any other source of love, hope and encouragement like the Bible. You do not have to know a lot about the Bible to study with your family. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or theologically astute. Hebrews 4:12 says “The word of God is living and active.” If you read it consistently with your family the Holy Spirit will handle the rest. This week try one less TV show and spend that time reading the living active Word of God and see how much the atmosphere of your home and family relationships change. Check out the YouVersion app or contact our Kids Min offices for family Bible study ideas.
Can we protect our kids from all the dangers of the world? NO! Can we as parents continue to come together in positive, encouraging ways to help our kids navigate this world? ABSOLUTELY! The difference will be: do I fuss about things out of my control on Facebook or do I leverage the 5 ideas above to be the best parent I can be? By Faith, I’ll do the latter!