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When Fear Becomes Our Motivator – The Swinging Pendulum of Parenting

When you hear the word “Gatekeepers” what do you picture? I imagine a scene from the Wizard of Oz where all the monkeys are standing guard determined to keep out intruders. Yo-Ee-Yo-O-O-Oh…It’s scary and intimidating. A good thing when it comes to the evil that the Bible refers to as “crouching at the door,” (Genesis 4:7). But we mustn’t treat our children as if they are the evil ones when it may be that they are being tempted. And yet it is all too easy to respond this way when fear becomes our motivator.

When Fear Becomes Our Motivator - The Swinging Pendulum of Parenting #parenting #teens #family

“What-Ifs” with Children —> Fear Becomes Our Motivator

Most of us are tempted to fear when we discover our children are being tempted to sin or have sinned. We imagine all sorts of “what if’s” that cause our hearts to faint.

What is the appropriate response to this struggle all families face? How do we faithfully watch as gatekeepers without becoming scary and intimidating to our children?

I believe there is one word that answers this question–grace.

A Grace-oriented Approach

We must soak our own hearts in the grace of God we’ve been so richly given, and remember to see our our children in light of His grace. He is the One who never slumbers, He never turns His face away from those who are His. He is ever watchful and faithful to complete the work He’s begun in us and them. So why do we worry over things beyond our ability to control?

Of course we do have some degree of control when it comes to what our children are allowed to watch on TV, and who they are allowed to interact with via social media, etc. But we can’t possibly control everythingthis isn’t our job. As parents, I also like to think of us as being heartkeepers until the time comes for their heart to be given to another.

A  heartkeeper manages to guard from evil, but with compassionate regard for the heart, mind and well-being of the one being guarded. This kind of guarding is hardly noticed, and when they are, it is welcomed.

An Overbearing Approach

How do I know? Because for years I actually thought I had control over my children and the choices they made. This was true when they were small, but a necessary transition began taking place in their pre-teen years that I often disregarded. I attempted to continue controlling their world to the detriment of my relationship with them. I had a guard-them-at-all-costs mentality, and it was overbearing and quite rude at times. And worse, I felt it was my duty as their mom.

I thought it was my duty to keep them safe from all harm, an impossible task I might add. I thought if they sinned it would be a bad reflection on me, enter sinful motives. I was overly concerned with how others would see me when they saw my children. However, by the grace of God He allowed me to see where I was wrong in regard to my parenting and led me to repentance. All three of my children are grown, love the Lord and love me as well–with all the mistakes I made–amazing.
What a privilege it is to share with you my experience in an effort to help keep you from making the same mistakes.

The Swinging Pendulum

It’s interesting how the pendulum of parenting swings from one way to the next as each generation passes. My Mom always said her mom was too overbearing and strict, which led my mom to be more lenient with me than she should have been. So, I ended up being more over-bearing. How I pray my children don’t swing too far to the leniency side of the pendulum. What we need is the perfect balance of “guarding” and “grace”, but how do we find it? How can we possibly break the pendulum cycle?

The answer is found by drawing from the source of all grace–our Savior and the One who understands every temptation we will ever face. It is Christ alone who is able to help us in our weakness to do what we could never do in our own strength. Christ is patient with us and prods us along as we grow by degrees–always leading with kindness and humility. And He will equip you to be the heartkeeper of your children. Run to Him for help, ask Him for wisdom, and follow His every step. He knows what you need before you even ask Him. What a Savior–what a Friend.

Which way is the pendulum swinging in your home? Towards fear or grace?

Recommended reading: Give Them Grace, by Elyse Fitzpatrick

The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality

About Debi Walter

Debi Walter co-authors The Romantic Vineyard with her husband, Tom, where they write about marriage, faith, romance, and more! You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and their blog.

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