Edited to Add: I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago, when the coronavirus wasn’t even on my radar, and before our world became crippled by fear. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that God was already leading me to trust Him with all of my fears and guiding me to write on a topic that would become so pertinent. While this post relates specifically to fear within parenting, the principles are relevant for our current situation and I found it helpful to read back over my own words and remind myself of the truth. I hope you, too, will find this comforting.
The topic of gender roles in parenting came up in my Bible study small group a few weeks ago. As we discussed common differences between mothers and fathers, a seasoned mom in our group chimed in: “I’ve heard it said that the role of dads is to protect their children from the overprotection of their moms.”
I had to chuckle at this because, while it might be true for most families, it certainly isn’t for ours. Luke would agree that, between the two of us, he is undeniably the more overprotective parent. Whether it’s due to our personalities or our upbringings (or a combination of both), Luke is much more likely to identify potential dangers and take measures to shield our children from harm. I tend to be oblivious to many of these hazard risks, and even when I spot them, it generally doesn’t occur to me to be afraid of them.
That’s not to say that I am never motivated by fear when it comes to my children. Far from it. Pregnancy was a particularly fearful time for me. During our struggle with infertility, there was the fear that I would never be able to get pregnant again. Then, once I did conceive, I was terrified of something going wrong: were the babies growing? Were they healthy? Would I be able to carry them to term? What if something terrible happened during labor and delivery? And, of course, how on EARTH was I going to to breastfeed/care for/love two newborns?
Thankfully many of my fears proved unfounded. Kali and Sully were both born perfectly healthy. I carried them nine full months, and by God’s grace I have been able to provide more than enough breast milk, energy, and love for both of them. Although their delivery was pretty terrible—far worse than I had feared, to be honest—it all turned out okay, and I learned some important lessons about trusting God even when life doesn’t go according to plan.
While the paralyzing fear that accompanied my pregnancy is now behind me, there are still moments when fear creeps into my parenting and threatens to take over. I can easily fall victim to worries that I’m somehow failing my children, second-guessing everything from the meals I put on the table to our schooling decisions, to the amount of individual time I give to each child, to how long I allow a baby to cry before coming to the rescue. Fear clouds my decisions in these moments, leading me to (attempt to) rely on my own fallible judgment instead of entrusting my children to the Lord. But this isn’t in their best interest, or my own.
Scripture tells us that we were not given a spirit of timidity or cowardice, but one of power and love and sound judgment. The Holy Spirit’s gift of love is sufficient for driving out all fear that creeps into my daily life and decisions as a mom.
When I find myself succumbing to fear-based parenting, I can remember that God—our own Heavenly parent—IS love. There is no fear in love, therefore there is no fear in God. When I place my full hope and trust in Him, His light will shine down into the dark crevices of my motherhood, exposing fear’s deceptions and pointing me toward the truth. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I am free to love my children authentically and altruistically, unencumbered by insecurity or worry.
God’s desire for our family is that I love my children fearlessly, and His love equips me to relinquish my fears and fulfill my role as their mom with my whole, courageous heart.