Confession: I lay awake at night and worry about my kids. It’s true. I know that worry is a waste of time. I know that worry shows a lack of faith. But sometimes . . . I worry.
I have a child about to graduate from high school and is still undecided about where she wants to go to college. I worry. What if she chooses a college that is out of state and I don’t get to see her every weekend? Or what if she doesn’t make friends? Or worse, what if her new friends aren’t good for her? College campuses are dangerous! You see? I worry!
I could make a similar list for each of my kids. What if they fall and break their arm? What if they don’t pass that test? What if they are hurt? Mistreated? Taken advantage of?
There’s a part of me that would like to create this safe, protected, and controlled environment for my kids . . . to put locks on all of the doors and keep the bad out. I know this wouldn’t be best for them, but it sure is a tempting thought.
Worry won’t get you very far.
It takes courage to be a good parent.
Next time you need a little courage, try this:
Seek a new perspective.
There are worries in every stage of life. The first time you leave your baby with a sitter is scary. But there are parents who are further down the road than you are. They’ve been there. They’ve seen how things turn out. They can give you a new point of view. Ask them.
Allow children to learn from their mistakes.
Would I let my child touch a hot stove? No Way! Did my kids scrape their knees when learning to ride their bike? Absolutely. The great things in life come with some risk. There are lessons that your child needs to learn by overcoming obstacles. And when we don’t allow them to face the tough stuff, we cripple them.
Acknowledge that you are not in control.
This is a tough one for me. Sometimes I would like to be in control. After all, my way is obviously the best way! But I can’t keep all drunk drivers off the road. I can’t stop sickness. I can’t build a fence high enough to protect them. I am not able to control every circumstance.
It takes courage to be a good parent. Sometimes I need the advice of those who’ve been there. Sometimes I need to help my child learn all that they can from the worrisome circumstances. And sometimes, I just need to remember to give my fears to one who holds the whole world in His hands.
(This article was originally published March 15, 2011)