Monkey bars. Roller skates. Summer camp. Sports. Childhood is riddled with opportunities for our kids to try new things, face their fears, and get hurt in the process. As much as we may wish we could protect our children from anything and everything that might threaten their safety, the truth is they’ll never grow unless we let them go—little by little, year by year, as their maturity (and ours) allows.
Letting go is scary. But raising brave kids requires being a brave parent. Only then we can instill in our kids the same trust in God that we so desperately exercise ourselves.
1. Equip them from the inside out.
What is the greatest threat to your child’s well-being? Many parents would say it’s external influences—their surroundings, ungodly culture, the Internet. But the Bible tells us a child’s greater danger comes from within his or her own heart.
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
The best action we can take to protect our children is to teach them about God. He alone can change hearts—and save our children from themselves—when they embrace Jesus as their Savior (2 Corinthians 5:17). So let’s make it a priority to pray with our children. Explore Bible stories and memorize verses together. Point to God in everything we do and see. It’s our job to teach our kids to protect their hearts from anything that would draw them away from God.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)
2. Remember who they belong to.
In order to let our kids go, we must remember to whom they are going. It’s natural for us parents to lean one of two ways:
(1) We may want to control the circumstances surrounding our children, thinking we can then prevent poor choices, which will consequently prevent harm and heartache for everyone. So we encourage our kids to depend on us.
(2) Or, we may focus on teaching our kids to be fiercely independent, to rely on their own smarts and strength.
Neither is a truly biblical view.
“Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.” (Proverbs 28:26)
God calls our children to be increasingly dependent, yes, but not on us—on Him, the source of true wisdom. Unfortunately, learning to lean on God means giving our children room to grow and stumble. And that can be terrifying for parents and kids alike. But by doing so, seeking God’s wisdom all the while, we set the example for our kids that Mom and Dad depend on God first—to take care of them.
3. Realize what fear cannot do.
Have you ever heard someone say, “Fear is the opposite of faith”? The first time I heard that, it crushed me—because I have a lot of fears. As a mom, I’m constantly giving my worries to God. Does that mean I don’t have faith? Am I not really a Christian?
Of course I am. The Bible says so.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38–39, NLT, emphasis added)
Fear does not erase our faith. It might waste it for a time—but as believers we can trust that fear is never victorious as long as God is in the lead.
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Raising brave kids might be one of the toughest calls on a parent’s heart. But it’s the right thing to do—for everyone’s sake. Including ours.
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)