3 Ways Worry is Ruining Your Parenting
By Cindi McMenamin, Crosswalk.com
What if I told you that you could care for your kids without worrying about them?
That would be the life, wouldn’t it? No more sleepless nights, stressful days, or a stomach tied up in knots because of what your children are going through that you can’t control, or what might happen to them that you constantly fear.
I’m sure you and I would never worry at all if we could be assured that our children would be happy, healthy, and safe all their days. But life comes with no such assurances. And while I personally can’t promise the well-being of your children, I can offer you some ways to eliminate worry, experience peace, and enjoy the task of parenting no matter how young or old your children are and no matter how much damage they might have done already. It’s all about leaning on the One who can do far more for and with your child than you ever could.
I believe we worry not because of who our children are and what they’re doing, or even the world we live in, but because of who we are and how we approach life.
Megan, a mom of four children under the age of 7, says:
"I worry so much about my children getting hurt or even worse dying. I get scared and think the worst. I worry about when they get older, what they are doing at school, and if their friends are having any influence over them. The worry is constant and my kids are so young.”
And Sue, the mom of a 19-year-old son, said she has always worried, almost obsessively, over her son's physical safety.
"I worried countless times when he would be out with friends and I wouldn't be able to reach him. My initial response was often a paralyzing and dreadful feeling of fear. Just when I thought I couldn't take it any longer waiting to hear from him, he would text me. I would never wish upon anyone to experience the intense degree of fear I would feel. It was awful."
But you and I were never meant to live that way.
Scripture says God has not given us the spirit of worry or fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). And a mom can have a tremendously positive influence on her child when she is exercising not worry or fear, but God’s power, love, and a sound mind.
Many worried moms believe in God. They just don't know how to connect their faith in God with their concern for their children. But I want to show you how to take that step that will make all the difference in your life and your children’s. I want to show you, in a practical way, how to trust God on a daily basis with what is most important to you.
Trusting God with your children is not just wishful thinking and hoping God agrees with your prayers. It’s a lifestyle of leaning on the Living God who can accomplish all that we cannot, and who can determine what is best for your child when you and I only think we can. And it starts with letting go of the worry. Take a look at what worry does to us, our health, and our relationships.
1. Worry Stresses Us Out
Worry causes stress – and stress kills. Literally. Stress not only impacts a woman's health, appearance, relationships, and overall quality of life, but it also prematurely ages us. Worry is also linked to ulcers and other health problems. By choosing not to worry, you are investing in your health, which is a gift to yourself and your family.
2. Worry Pushes Our Children Away
One of the reasons children grow up and stop telling their parents what is going on in their lives is because they “don’t want mom to worry.”
A few years ago, when I was writing my book, When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, I asked daughters, ages 12-40, about their relationships with their moms. Through their answers, I discovered that most daughters, regardless of their ages, said their moms worried about them too much. They knew mom cared for them, but it concerned them, and at times annoyed them, that their mothers worried so much. By choosing not to worry, you are investing in your relationship with your children as well.
3. Worry Models Mistrust to Our Children
Worry says to our children and others: "God can't work this out." Therefore, worry is the sin of having no confidence in God. I know that you, like me, aren’t consciously thinking those words when you worry. But I also know you don’t want to display that type of mistrust to your children. How we live will, to a great degree, impact how our children live. What we worry about, they will tend to worry about. On the flip side, where we put our trust will greatly impact how they will choose to handle situations in life, too. Even if they don't imitate your faith or degree of trust, they will know on Whom you rely (or don’t rely) and it speaks louder to them than any lecture. The choices we make – including whether we decide to worry or trust God – will no doubt influence our children's choices well into their adulthood.
The Root of Worry
We tend to think that how much we worry is an indication of how much we love our children. But it is actually an indication of how little we know God. Because the more we get to know God as the all-knowing, all-loving, Perfect Parent, the more easily we will trust Him with what is most important to us and experience peace, no matter what happens.
God gave us a formula in His Word to help us stop the worry:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7, NLT).
The very next verse tells us how to stop the worrying, so we can experience that kind of peace that comes through praying about everything:
…Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (verse 8).
There it is. Think about what is true, not what “might happen.” Focus on the facts of the situation, not your fears. Think on God’s character (that which is honorable and pure and lovely and admirable) and what He can do, not the worst possible scenario.
As you focus on God’s goodness, God’s love, and God’s ability to control all that you cannot, there is no room in your mind for fear or worry. 1 John 4:18 tells us “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” That means when you love God perfectly, you will trust Him immensely and there will be no reason for fear or worry.
Trust Him. He can control all you think you must and all you are convinced you can’t. And He knows exactly what He’s doing in your child’s life – and yours.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and popular author who helps women find strength for the soul. She is the author of several books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 125,000 copies sold), When a Mom Inspires Her Daughter, and her newest book, 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom, upon which this article is based. For more on her ministry, discounts on her books, or free resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.