Fear in parenting

I don’t think I have ever experienced fear like I have since having children! I am sure that if you are also a parent you can understand my sentiments. Our children are priceless! Not like in the credit card commercial, or describing a gem or piece of art. I am saying that my children’s lives are worth more than my own life twice, no, three times over, without question! So, when any thought of threat to their physical, emotional, and spiritual well being, my heart starts beating fast, my brain goes into fight or flight, and I’m a mama bear ready to rip every single hair out of the threats head one at a time….ok a little graphic, but the point is don’t mess with a mama bear people!!!

These thoughts come rushing to me while sitting in my bed, trying to unwind for the night, and I look at the transients that occasionally slip into bed with me and my husband. I turn to one side and I have my 3 year old son in the fetal position, which is only one of hundreds of sleeping positions my lil helicopter sleeps in! And on the other side is my 7 year old who just lost her other front tooth making her the poster child for the song “all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!” Watching them sleep makes me forget about all the chaos and defiance that may have happened even an hour ago, and fills me with love without bounds. It takes just reading a news article, or hearing something on the radio for me to realize that my kids are NOT safe in this world, that NOT everyone values them the way I do, and there is a battle for their souls already underway!

This understanding brings an almost paralyzing fear, a sense of hopelessness and despair. But I go to my therapeutic training, I can choose to linger in the fear or take steps of action. Each thought I have, I have a choice: do I stay or do I move? This brings to mind the story of Jesus calling to Peter to take the steps out of the boat and to walk on the water. Fear is a powerful emotion, and I can only imagine Peter felt it. Peter had a choice to make, “do I stay, or do I move?”

Fear in itself is NOT a bad thing. But, on occasion fear in parenting can negatively impact a lot of the choices you make. From not allowing them to go outside for fear they will get hurt, to allowing your teen and their friends to drink beer at your house for fear they will just do it at someone else’s. Fear can make your parenting style either liberal or conservative because you don’t want to “mess up your kids like your parents did you!” Fear can shelter your kids from “the world” to only not prepare them for it, or provide no moral direction so they can find their own individuality. And fear can destroy your joy, your peace, your contentment, your relationships, your identity, your soul!

How can fear be a good thing? It can motivate you, encourage you to move! In this series I want to explore how we can use fear to make us better parents! We will use the energy that we would use to defeat a whole army on behalf of our kids, to be Pro-Active as parents and to be Re-Active more efficiently.

So the question still stands? Do you stay or will you move?

Raising teens with a 'lifeproof' case

The day I got my first smart phone was like adding to my growing family! I had just gotten married and had my first baby. The smart phone came with a full book of instructions and I soaked it all up. It was glorious! Though I felt certain that my life was ready and capable to manage a smart phone, it became clear that my smart phone didn’t handle my life very well. In the last 7 years I have had to replace my “smart” devices on many occasions, because frankly LIFE HAPPENED! Here’s the run down of my previous devices and their demise.

>Giving my 1-year-old daughter a bath, I drop it in the bathtub. Rescue in time to still be able to use, but its a little slower than before.

>Taking my own bath, and while checking Facebook drop it in the bathtub. No survival this time.

>Outside making chalk drawings with my three kids under age of 5. My 1-year-old son puts my phone into my water-glass. I go to take a drink and wonder what is black in my cup?! Phone did not survive.

>Have a friend over with her kids for a play date. Hear her daughter in the garage banging something, my friend starts to go check to make sure she isn’t damaging anything. I say, “oh don’t worry, there is nothing in there that is of value!” Turns out the banging is my tablet with the screen destroyed. Tablet worked, but screen was hard to read. Husband and I tried to DIY the screen killed the Tablet

>Due with baby number 4 in a week, can’t find my phone. I figure I left it somewhere because the baby in gestation is eating my brain cells and I have been losing everything recently. I find the phone under the kitchen table with the screen smashed. Culprit is still unknown, (Cough…my 3 year old son…cough). Phone still works, but has now turned into an MP3 player for my oldest.

When our phone contract came up and we could upgrade I was all on board. My husband however, stated that he was extremely nervous to get me another phone remembering my track record. He and I made a deal, I could get another smart phone as long as I get an indestructible case! My first thought, “uh why did you not suggest that 2 devices ago?!” So I got my phone and I got my case!

This experience made me think life would be so much easier if we could strap on an indestructible case onto our lives. Even when there are storms, accidents, and water damage, all would be air tight safe in our box. But this is not reality! So we have a couple of choices, live in denial, avoid any choice outside of preset conditions, or prepare and have a plan!!

The great gift that age brings with it is experiential wisdom! We have lived it. Teens often feel that parents don’t get it. That we don’t know what it feels like to be in their shoes. How wrong they are! We know exactly the struggles of being in adolescence. Life does look different now, but the awkwardness, the distress, lack of identity and direction, WE HAVE BEEN THERE! However, what we as parents have in experience we lack in communication. We are so desperate to keep our kids from harm that we try to put them in an Indestructible Case.

Parents, lets stop responding when a crisis happens and instead lets be proactive and preparative! Here are some things that have the risk of damaging your teen and need a plan to avoid a crisis.

Dating: what are your rules about dating-age, allowed activities, group or single dates, do the parents spend time with the couple, etc.

Friendships: define healthy friendships, what to do when they are not healthy, what does communication look like (ie can’t just text), how to resolve conflict, how to make good friendships

Bullies: defining who and what is a bully, what to do when struggling with a bully, what if it is on-line

Sex: what is sex, (believe me when I say that your kids think they know a lot, but when they don’t consider oral sex “sex”, there needs to be some education!); what is too far, why is it important to wait,

Pornography: what is porn, does the stuff on tv count as inappropriate, what about emotional porn (desiring the character in a book or movie and turning it into a fantasy that manipulates your standards for partners in an unhealthy and unrealistic way)

Technology Use: Cell Phones, Video Games, Computer, Internet, tablets, etc. what is appropriate use, what rules should you have, how to keep them safe

Drugs and Alcohol Use: what is alcohol and what are drugs, how to say no, what it does to your brain and body, what is addiction

Identity: how to help them discover who they are, how to be ok with weaknesses, and how to strengthen the areas of giftings, what to do when they feel lost or hopeless, ways to encourage self when feeling down about self,

Faith: help them discover what they believe and why, how to make their faith their own, how to talk to unbelievers, who do they turn to for spiritual answers,

This list is not all-encompassing, instead it is a place to start. It’s easy to guess what could damage a smart phone or device, therefore purchasing a case to prevent it is common sense. You may not know the exact culture your teens are walking through that may cause harm, but you can remember the basic struggles you had as a teen. Use those experiences as wisdom to equip your teen to be smart, be healthy, and to value themselves! And if that fails then wrap them in bubble-wrap and lock them in their room until Jesus comes back! Parents, we can not stop all harm from happening. But we can help prepare and assist while walking through it.