A lot of us are guilty of mom worry – that nagging feeling of anxiety whenever you see your child doing something that could hurt them. I write a lot about why you shouldn’t be afraid as a parent, like this post about myths parents believe concerning child safety, or this one where I tell parents to stop stressing out about their parenting.
But a fat lot of good that does if I’m not writing anything about HOW to overcome that fear.
One of the most consistent comments I get on my posts is “I know I need to be less afraid, but…”
This January, my church has been focusing on bad habits in life that we need to get rid of, and one of those habits was fear. I definitely needed that in my life, because I have a lot of fear I need to get over. And I know I’m not the only one.
Today, I’m sharing with you some ways you can reduce fear in your parenting life.
Why should you do this? Well, I’m sure you can come up with your own reasons, but here’s what I think:
Brave raises brave
Your children are looking to you to see what they should be afraid of. You are their ultimate role model for the first decade of their life.
Katie over at I Choose Brave has an entire blog dedicated to courageous family life. She writes a lot of posts about the value of teaching children not to fear, such as this one about being brave enough to fail (and in the process teaching them to try), or this one about raising overcomers.
Don’t let children see you having a fearful attitude towards them all the time, because they will learn to have a fearful attitude towards themselves.
Mom doesn’t trust me to go across the monkey bars by myself… Maybe I can’t go across the monkey bars by myself. Maybe I’ll get hurt. Better not try.
I’m sure this is not the mindset you want your children to have towards life, but you can give it to them inadvertently just by passing on your own fears to them.
Note: I am not saying you should never tell your children when you are afraid of something. Sometimes, it can actually help them to realize that mommy gets scared too. But then show them how brave you are when you face your fear anyways.
Your fear can actually make your child less safe
That seems counterintuitive, huh?
Think about it this way:
If you are afraid to let your child try out the monkey bars, they won’t learn how to go across the monkey bars. They won’t develop the strength and agility they would have learned from going across the monkey bars.
What happens when they come across a situation requiring strength and agility? Say they climb a tall tree and can’t get down. They don’t know how to conquer it because they missed out on the experience. Your fear held them back and put them in more danger.
It’s better to let your children learn “dangerous” skills under your care and supervision than make them miss out because you’re afraid for them. That can put them in a worse situation later.
They need to learn how to handle dangerous situations and gain the physical and mental control required to face the situation. This takes practice.
Don’t let your fear endanger your children any more than necessary.
You make things more difficult for yourself
It’s no fun going to the park, frantically chasing after your active child, trying to keep him from doing everything the big kids are doing, is it?
Imagine this instead: You get to actually enjoy the nice sunny day in the beautiful green outdoors while your child runs around, trying to do everything the older kids are doing and getting nice and worn out for his afternoon nap. He falls down, scrapes his knee, and comes to you for a quick kiss and reassurance . You give that to him [because you know how to deal with boo boos], and he’s off to play again.
What’s the worst thing that happened? He scraped his knee. Will he be okay? Absolutely. And on top of that, he had more fun, learned new skills, and increased his physical capacity.
Parenting is difficult no matter how you spin it. But don’t make it any more difficult than it has to be. Scrapes heal, tears dry, but those lessons learned are for life.
I’m sure we could come up with plenty more reasons why we should banish fear from our parenting, but now let’s focus on how to do that.
Focus on the big picture, not the details
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. What went wrong, what went right, what needs to change. And that’s great – details make up the big picture. But keep the big picture in mind.
What do I mean?
Your goal in parenting is to raise self-sufficient adults who are capable of tackling all of lives challenges with resiliency and optimism (or at least that’s my goal, and I’m assuming yours is something similar).
Let your ultimate parenting goals guide you to make the small decisions, otherwise the small decisions will end up defining your parenting goals for you. And that’s not usually a good thing.
Before you make a decision today regarding your child, stop and think “Does this align with my ultimate goals for their life?” If not, maybe you need to change your decision.
Have a mindset of success
I wrote an entire post on this, but here’s a synopsis:
The same way you teach your kids to have an “I-Can-Attitude”, you need to have one too!
Here’s the truth: God gave us an entire manual on success, in this life and the next. There is no way he wants you to be a parenting failure.
Armed with that knowledge, set yourself up for success by believing that you will be successful as a parent.
That little tike will start sleeping through the night, whether it’s tomorrow or next month.
Your toddler will be potty-trained.
She’s frustrated now, but your daughter will eventually figure out her math homework.
When you stop believing in your potential for parenting success, you stop trying. That’s when failure creeps in.
Instead, reframe your mindset with the expectation of success, and lose the fear of failure.
Take little steps
It’s hard to change all at once.
Be intentional about what you’re going to change. Start with one thing a day.
“Today, I am going to let my preschooler jump off the swing.”
“Today, I am not going to say anything when my toddler tries to climb up the slide.”
“Today, I’ll let my son stir the pot while the spaghetti cooks.”
Little steps help you maintain a feeling of control, while changing your parenting mindset from fear and anxiety to confidence in your children. And they will notice the difference.
You’ll be tempted to step back in the first time they fall down, or make a mess.
It’s going to happen. The only way to learn is by trying, and sometimes trying results in failure. Sometimes it may result in multiple failures before they achieve success.
Let them do it, then look back in a month and see how much they’ve accomplished.
Read about the way other people are doing it
Sometimes it can really help to know how other people are approaching this whole parenting thing, and what is working for them. You can steal their good ideas!
Right now, I have an entire post series dedicated to the different ways parents around the world raise their children.
[you can check it out right here]
My goal is to show parents that just because another culture has vastly different ways of raising children doesn’t mean that they are doing it wrong. In fact, they might be getting things right!
Did you know that Japanese kids take public transportation to school by themselves? Or that most British parents don’t childproof their homes?
Does that make them bad parents? Of course not. They know what works for them, and they’re not afraid to implement it.
Do the research
Here is the reality: Crime in the United States is at an all-time low right now, almost across the board. Your children have never been safer.
While it’s great to educate your children what to do in a stranger-danger situation, the reality is that they will probably never encounter a situation like that. It’s statistically highly improbable.
There is a greater chance of your child dying in a football game or a car accident than a stranger abduction. And yet we hesitate more to let them walk to school alone than to let them join the football team, or put them in the car.
Fears are rarely grounded in reality.
God is in control
It’s cliché, but it really couldn’t be left off the list because it’s too true.
It makes me sad when I come across dozens of articles every day about keeping children safe, instead of articles about teaching them, training them, empowering them, loving them.
There are more important things in life than keeping our children safe. There, I said it.
Let God take care of the 1 to 4 million chance that your kid will be eaten by a shark. You have more important things to focus on, like showing that beautiful child of yours the wonderful world God has created for her to enjoy.