3 Practical Steps for Mom (and Dad)
I’ve always been prone to worrying. It started as a child; my mom told me I was a “worry-wart.” It didn’t help that my irrational fears were validated at nine years old during a family camping trip. We had spent the weekend in the mountains with friends and decided to take their boat out for one last ride before packing up and heading home. As we passed the “No Wake” buoys and the driver hit the gas, the engine burst into flames.
Everyone on shore began to yell and shout for us to jump off and swim back, fearing the boat would explode. Thankfully, it did not, but my mom endured third-degree burns and had to be airlifted out of the mountains by helicopter to the nearest hospital. To this day, I’m a little anxious anytime I’m on a boat.
As a mom with four kids watching, I’m reminded they will likely handle their concerns by how I model mine. We will worry; it’s inevitable, but our children need to see what we do when faced with it. So, how can we help our kids practice faith over fear?
- Be Mindful of Your Knee-Jerk Reactions
Of my many fears, tornadoes are high on the list. One beautiful spring day years ago, we were at a baseball field for one of our son’s practices. Within minutes of unloading our sports wagon, chairs, water bottles and snacks, the sky turned black, and all around the field, phones simultaneously alerted notifications of a tornado warning.
I immediately panicked, threw everything into the back of our van as fast as possible, and headed home. Traffic was crazy, and it wasn’t until I was stopped at a red light that I noticed our daughter crying from the backseat. I realized the kids were as frightened as I was and watching my every move. So, in the middle of the storm, even though I was still terrified, I started praying out loud as we tried to make our way home.
Sometimes, we discount our kid’s ability to sense our emotions, but what a great teaching opportunity to be honest about our feelings and bring them in prayer to God together. Praying doesn’t automatically take our worries away, but it reminds our kids there is One who is greater than the fears and anxieties we face.
2. Remember Who is in Control
My husband was active duty in the military for years, and life constantly felt like it was up in the air and out of my control. Everything from where we lived to when we could have another kid, go on vacation or if my husband would miss another child’s birth hung just out of my reach.
Those who easily worry can become overwhelmed trying to control what they can. I discovered, at least for me, it can become an idol. “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore” (Psalm 125:2 ESV). We may not always know the outcome of a situation, but we know God is surrounding us and is in control, and there is comfort in that.
3. Remind Ourselves of Truth in Times of Doubt
I tend to panic quickly and am not good in situations where injuries occur, especially if they involve the mouth. My two front teeth were knocked out twice during childhood, once while playing in the pool and the second time during a cheerleading practice. Looking closely, you can see the lines that bond my makeshift teeth to what was left of the real ones. So whenever one of our kids trips, falls on their face or comes running to me with blood, I tend to look for missing teeth – instead of comforting them first.
It’s not just our words; our kids are watching our actions, too.
Our fear and negativity can fill the room, and they feel it. I try to practice self control with my attitude and responses; positivity goes a long way. We don’t always feel equipped and able to do so. Remember 2nd Timothy 1:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (ESV).
I try to practice these steps and hope to be a good example for our kids, but I don’t always get it right. I know our kids won’t either. It’s part of growing up, whether in age or faith. And we need our need for a Savior, no matter what emotions we face.
Sarah Nichols is a writer who loves encouraging women by sharing hope-filled stories that point others to Jesus. She lives in Tucson, AZ, with her husband and four kids. You can find more from Sarah at http://sarahnicholswrites.com