A lot about parenting has to do with choices. Many of these choices can be made due to fear… Fear of problems if you do vaccinate. Fear of problems if you don’t vaccinate. Fear of public school ruining your kids. Fear of ruining your kids by homeschooling them. Fear, fear, fear.
I believe that fear can be one of the most crippling things in parenthood. Fear often seems to keep parents shortsighted, stealing their focus from the goal and drawing it toward a present unreality. My goal is to raise children that love Jesus, are genuinely kind, communicate well with all kinds of people, and love to learn. I also want to raise them in a way that allows them to be themselves, but still expects them to be good listeners who are full of respect. Do you think about your goals? (Obviously, more specific goals like, “become a doctor” are left up the your children to decide. You deciding these types of goals for your children could possibly result in much frustration for both parties.) Fear, in all its vengeance, seems to prey on young parents. All of a sudden life stops being about teaching your child to love learning, and becomes, “Learn what all the rest of the kids are learning. Keep up with everyone else.” If you are steering your child toward loving learning, I am sure that you will be trying to keep them caught up with what they are supposed to be learning. Do you see the difference in focus though? One focuses on the goal, one is driven by fear. They may look similar, but the produce much different results. Your focus may be I want my kids to grow up loving Jesus. When fear comes in, you can begin to worry that they aren’t ______ enough, or that they aren’t as “involved” as so-and-so’s kids. So instead of pushing your kids to love Jesus, you can start pushing them toward being “good.” Not only is this a bad plan, it also generally back-fires. Believe me.
In fear you may find yourself repeating your own parents mistakes, or by fear you may overcompensate for them.
As you come into parenthood, work toward embracing faith and joy. Practice telling yourself the truth, filled with grace. Practice looking toward the goal, and not toward the fear. Think on the things that are lovely and good and true.
I love to think of how God made my body perfectly for giving birth. (I also think it is ironic, because even people who think we evolved should think that our bodies are fully capable for performing things like labor!) If you do your research on labor, you will find that one of the biggest factors in labor is fear. (*Fear Factor*…No pun originally intended.) Fear stiffens your body, making contractions hurt more and be less affective. It can wear out your mind. Fear can also keep your cervix from opening or keep your contractions from becoming regular. Labor can physically show you what fear does to the body. Imagine what it could do to your parenting skills. What I am wanting to say is this: Don’t wait to start recognizing and dealing with that nasty fear ’til you are well into parenthood. Every step of your journey right now is preparation. You are able choose to make the most of it. You get to learn from your mistakes to, so don’t be afraid of messing up.
I heard a teaching on fear when I was seven months pregnant with my second, going for a VBAC, with Gestational Diabetes. It kicked my butt, in the best of ways. Then I listened to it about 8 more times: it was revolutionary to my world. Both parts are good, but I seriously ate up the first one. Here it is: Scott Goodwill~ Fear Part One and Scott Goodwill~ Fear Part Two.
I was also so challenged by the birthing books I read. The statistics on what fear, or a lack thereof, can do to your body amazes me. The stories inspire me. I have given you the names of three great books below. The first two books I read over, and over, and over. Be forewarned: I think a few of the ideas in some of the books are a bit strange or off balance, but so much of what is said is extremely helpful. So take all the helpful stuff, and apply it with your pure, beautiful heart. “To the pure, all things are pure.” P.S. For the sensitive soul, please be aware there are plenty of quite naked pictures in the second and third books. It comes with the territory.
Mind Over Labor, by Carl Jones
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin
Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, By Susan McCutcheon