In my attempts to parent my children well, I often find a deficiency in ‘expert’ advice to bring about the outcome I’m aiming for. Nowhere have I found this insufficiency more striking then when dealing with my children’s fear.
The extent of worldly advice consists of validating their fear and offering them reassurance. My Christian upbringing suggests I should pray with them. I’ve tried both of these things, but I often throw my hands up in defeat and leave them to work it out themselves.
While it’s important for kids to learn to deal with fear on their own, it’s up to us as parents to teach them how to do it.While kids need to deal with fear on their own, it’s up to us as parents to teach them how. Click To Tweet
It only takes an ad flashing on the television or a comment made by a well meaning friend…and then it gets dark and monsters begin to generate under beds, in closets, and in every dark corner.
Rasmussen College created a compelling infographic of childhood fears around the world, both real and imagined. It’s quite staggering to visualise the fear of children in this way. And while it’s no secret that children have to face fears, what’s a parent to do?
Scary things exist
Unfortunately, we live in a world where fear exists. You only have to turn on the news for five minutes or look at anxiety statistics to see the result of fear. Simply telling your children ‘there is no monster’ doesn’t cut it in the real world.
What I want to teach my kids is how to have the power over fear. So whether the monster is real or imagined, they know how to overcome it by the Spirit of God that lives inside them.
My sons fear
My breakthrough with my son came when we went to a museum. It was an opportunity for the kids education while we were travelling overseas. Before seeing the artefacts, however, the tour began with a video that was an interpretation of how life began. Despite the fact that I didn’t agree with the content, the video was mostly suitable for kids. But as I watched, I became unsettled and began to observe the kids for their reactions.
My concern was justified as something about it got inside my son’s head and we ended up leaving the museum early. He was so distraught he sat in the corner of the room crying and couldn’t be distracted by the artefacts.
Asking for wisdom
When we got home I sat with my son, who was still extremely upset. My desperation was mounting as my comforting words and prayers weren’t helping. I regretted that I hadn’t listened to the check in my spirit and taken the kids out of the movie. We were both feeling awful and there seemed to be nothing I could do to fix it, and he certainly didn’t know how to deal with it. So I did what I always do when I’m stuck…I asked the real expert, for wisdom.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.(James 1:5; NASB95)
I am very thankful for His promise, I have clung to it on more than one occasion.
As I sat with my son, once again lost, I asked God for wisdom. I knew He had a way to conquer this fear in my son and I wanted to hear it.
It wasn’t long before the idea came to me, and after sending up a quick ‘thank you’ to God, I told my son that it’s the enemy that wants him to be afraid even though he has no need to be. I told him that every time the yucky thought comes into his head he should use it as a reminder to ask God to bring the truth of Jesus to the people who made the video. I also mentioned the fact that Satan would hate it and stop trying to use fear to intimidate him.
This brought a smile to his face and he implemented it as soon as I left him alone. It wasn’t long before he came out with a smile on his face and didn’t mention it again.
But does it work more than once?
Since that time I have often used that strategy to help my son overcome his fears. He has now come to expect it. The prayer is often different depending on the situation. It isn’t always related to his fear. Sometimes his prayer might be a little funny, or it might be related to the health of a family member. I use whatever moves him the most (sometimes I need to again ask God for wisdom on a thing he can pray). And we have always come up with something.
Now that he anticipates this strategy, I have found he is ready with his own ideas. I’m confident that when I’m not there to help, he’ll know what to do.
Through using fear as a reminder to pray, you allow God’s presence to infiltrate the dark places.Through using fear as a reminder to pray, you allow God’s presence to infiltrate the dark places. Click To Tweet
Now my son is learning how to manage fear for the rest of his life through practical but sometimes unusual ways. He has seen what God can do for him, and through him, and it’s one more step in raising my kids to be more aware of the power of God at work through their lives.