Why Many Millennial Parents Struggle With Anxiety Monday, July 31st, 2017
Let me start with this. It’s not just up to you to keep them safe.
This week I read yet another article online highlighting one more way I need to protect my children from this world.
As I made my way through one father’s terrifying narrative and his hopeless account of how he felt as though he had done everything right and yet still couldn’t protect his daughter, I found myself wondering how I was going to keep my kids safe from such a real modern day threat.
What boundaries do I need to put in place? What strategies do I need to come up with before my children reach that age? What else do I need to worry about?
My list is getting longer.
Truthfully, my list of things to worry about began well before my oldest son was born. And the voice of today’s modern parenting chorus isn’t about to let me forget every possible worst-case scenario. We are continually being reminded of how much we have to fear.
Yet, I can’t help but wonder if the world really is more dangerous today than it was ten years ago. Don’t get me wrong. I fully understand that the modern threat that comes with the internet is something that previous generations didn’t face. I get it.
But previous generations had other threats… threats that modern advances in science and medicine have made nearly obsolete today. We’ve just exchanged their threats for ours.
Honestly, I just think that we are paying closer attention. I think the dangers are just louder.
And the real threat might be what this fear is doing to hearts of today’s parents.
With so many sources telling us all of the things that could harm our children – the wrong foods, the wrong soaps, the wrong amount of screen time, the wrong carseats, the wrong vaccines, the wrong schools, the wrong friends, the wrong interactions, the wrong corrections, the wrong affirmations… We are inundated with this overwhelming feeling that our kids cannot afford for us to get any of it wrong.
Every choice has a best option and around every corner is a danger we hadn’t even considered.
(At least that’s the way it feels.)
And in our quest for our children’s physical and emotional well-being, something truly tragic has happened.
We have sacrificed our emotional and mental well-being on the altar of protecting our kids. We worry and obsess and stress and constantly wonder if we’re going to be able to keep them safe, and it has caused many in our generation to face true anxiety and depression.
We have sacrificed our own mental and emotional health for theirs. And in our obsession to make sure we’re keeping our kids healthy and safe, we’ve forgotten this important truth – It was never just up to us to protect them.
That’s the heart of the lie we believe, actually.
“Your child’s safety and health and general well-being is resting wholly on your shoulders.”
I think that lie is one of the root causes of our anxiety. It’s enough to make anyone stress out! But it’s not true. It never was.
Because when God made you a parent, He placed within you not just the ability to care for your children, but also the ability to call on Him to help you care for them – to borrow His strength, His wisdom, His peace – to call on His Holy Spirit to guide you.
And where we’ve become increasingly anxious and fearful and stressed, we have lost sight of the ultimate Truth that God has not forfeit His ability to care for us or our kids.
He has not stopped guiding and directing and shepherding parents just because the threats have changed. He is fully aware of all of them.
So while we are the ones that have been given charge over our children, we have not been left alone to watch over them.
And when we choose to live from a place of assurance in the power of God rather than fear of the dangers of the world – we can rest in the peace that comes from co-parenting with the One who created the universe.
We can turn to the Word of God to recenter our hearts on His Truth – and instead of paying attention to every fear, we can train our hearts to pay attention to His promises found in Scripture.
Am I saying to stop paying attention to your instincts? To stop looking out for your kids’ best interest? To just let what might happen… happen? Absolutely not.
I am saying that we have to be equally as vigilant about protecting our hearts from fear as we are about protecting our children from danger.
Because while the threats are real… so is our God.
Here is some Truth to take in before you go.
- In John 14:27, the Lord promises to give us peace. He says, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
- In Duetronomy 31:6, the people of God are encouraged to, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
- In Psalm 91:11, we are reminded, “For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.”
- And in 2 Timothy 1:7, we remember, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
You can read more about my journey to overcome anxiety here.