When Parenting Is Scary
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
"But, Mom … will you please change your mind? It’s not fair!" my daughter said.
I knew what my answer had to be since I’d grounded her earlier in the day. But it wasn’t going to be easy.
Sometimes right before I tell my kids no, that split second before the word comes out of my mouth, I am afraid.
I am afraid to be strong.
I am afraid to follow through.
I am afraid of what will happen when I say no.
I think every mom knows this fear. We know it’s often easier to give into demands than to dig in to our resolve. Sometimes it’s easier to run away than stand and be courageous.
I’ve learned the harder I work at raising grateful kids, the harder the job gets. When kids resist chores and grumble about dinner, slam doors and argue with their siblings, it can make a mom feel like a complete failure.
Recently in the middle of a kitchen standoff, all of the above was happening.
My husband walked up behind me and tugged on my arm before things escalated with my daughter. We left our kids to clean up dinner dishes and locked our bedroom door. And we asked questions we couldn’t answer: Why is parenting so hard? Are we doing this right? Do we have to go back out there?
"If it isn’t hard, maybe we aren’t doing it right. We aren’t alone, honey. God says to be courageous because He will go with us wherever we go … and that means back to the kitchen, eventually," my husband said quietly in my ear.
I let his words sink in. Because too often I believe the lie that says if I were a great mom, I wouldn’t fight or disagree or battle over opinions and attitudes with my kids. And we wouldn’t hurt each other.
Some days, I feel really alone and afraid. I wonder if I’m the only one in this challenging stage or with a kid in that difficult phase. Sometimes I cling to silence instead of sharing my burden with other moms.
I couldn’t help but think of the words spoken to Joshua, the newly appointed leader of the Israelites: "Do not be afraid … for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).
God was commanding him to lead the people into the Promised Land, a beautiful but daunting place. He was reassuring them that wherever He sent them, He would also go with them. When we journey with God, we can rest in the next steps, even when we can’t make them out. Of course, our children are hardly the Philistines, but the fear and uncertainty in parenting might feel similar.
Just because the road gets bumpy, doesn’t mean we are off course. Actually, the right road is bumpy. The correct path does have obstacles and setbacks. The journey is broken and beautiful at the same time.
I was encouraged with these truths and I hope you will be too: It’s okay for our kids to be temporarily unhappy, and their resistance doesn’t mean our failure.
I swallowed the fear and shook off the discouragement, thankful for the reminder that these are normal feelings in parenting. I thanked God for being with me in the hard moments. As I headed back to the kitchen, I clung to the holy promise that I wasn’t alone.
"No, I’m sorry, honey, you can’t go. You’re grounded for the day, remember?" I told my waiting daughter.
I braced myself and stood my ground and calmly suggested another day. She let out a disappointed sigh. When I returned later, that same child was humming in the kitchen, making dessert for the rest of the family. There was no pouting. The anger was long gone. She didn’t ask again.
Sometimes our kids ask for something or demand their way, not to get us to say yes, but to see if we will stick with no.
Oftentimes, our kids surprise us.
And many times, what scares us makes us stronger.
So, the next time we are afraid, we must also remember we are not alone.
Don’t give in. But mostly, don’t give up.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the honor and blessings of being a parent. Please help me parent my children with the same love and discipline You give to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What are you afraid of in your parenting journey today? How can you take the next courageous step?