When my older daughter was 5, we went to a water park. She loved the wave pool and the little slides, but she decided she wanted to try a big slide. She was excited about it -- until we got to the top. Then she got scared. It was a long way down. I knew she would love it if I could just get her to let go of the sides of the slide. I eventually got her to go down the slide, and we must have gone down that slide a dozen more times that day. But she almost let fear rob her of a great experience.
As parents, we often let fear rob of us of truly enjoying parenthood. We worry and stew about things that don't really matter in the long run. From the time they're born, we worry about what our kids eat, how much sleep they get, whether they're hitting the same milestones as other kids, whether we can get them into the "right" preschool, whether they are on the "right" soccer team, and whether they are in the "right" classes.
The truth is there is no one-size-fits-all approach to parenting. What's right for my child may be entirely wrong for your child. Sometimes, though, we get so caught up in what the rest of the world says is the "right" thing for our children to be doing that we don't do what's best for our own kids because we're afraid. We're afraid we'll make the wrong decision. We're afraid of what others will think. We're afraid our kids won't be happy with our decisions. We're afraid that if we don't go along with the mainstream thinking, our kids will fall behind.
Parenting out of fear is a poor way to parent. It robs our kids of a childhood based on who they are as a person, and it robs us of the joy of being a parent. We can't make good decisions for our kids if we're so afraid of screwing it up that we can't think outside of society's parenting box. We're not alone on this parenting journey, and sometimes God asks us to let Him lead the way to make decisions that aren't popular (either with society or with our kids), that aren't mainstream, and that may seem strange to even to us. God promises to always be with us on this bumpy parenting road. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Today, I want to leave you with the following words that remind us that fear doesn't make us good parents, but stepping outside society's expectations can. (You can get a printable version by clicking on the picture above.)
Don't Be Afraid
Don't be afraid to make decisions based on your particular child's personality.
Don't be afraid to love your kids with your whole heart.
Don't be afraid to bring your kids up in the "training and instruction of the Lord."
Don't be afraid to make non-traditional choices, even if the rest of the world thinks you're crazy.
Don't be afraid to be an advocate for your children. You're the only voice in this world that's speaking up only for them.
Don't be afraid to have fun.
Don't be afraid to try something new when what you've been doing isn't working.
Don't be afraid of the unknown.
Don't be afraid to ask questions until you're satisfied with the answers.
Don't be afraid to say no to your kids.
Don't be afraid of discipline. It's an important part of teaching your kids.
Don't be afraid to seek out different opinions but always let God's opinion be the final say.
Don't be afraid to say "I don't know" and "I'm sorry" to your kids.
Don't be afraid of tomorrow. Enjoy the ordinary moments of today.