Parenting by Faith or by Fear?

I know most of you who read this already visit the GirlTalk blog regularly, but I want to draw attention to the following quote by Carolyn Mahaney because I thought it was soooooo helpful.

Faith toward God is the foundation of effective mothering. Did you catch that? Here it is again: Faith toward God is the foundation of effective mothering. Success as a mother doesn’t begin with hard work or sound principles or consistent discipline (as necessary as these are). It begins with God: His character, His faithfulness, His promises, His sovereignty. And as our understanding of these truths increases, so will our faith for mothering. You see, it is relatively easy to implement new practices in parenting. But if our practices (no matter how useful) aren’t motivated by faith, they will be fruitless.

So often I parent by fear rather than faith. It looks like this:
Fear motivation: When I notice a sin pattern emerge in one of my children I fear that if I don’t get it “under control” now they will be derailed for life.
Faith motivation: When I notice a sin pattern emerge in one of my children I am in awe that God would see fit to reveal to me where He is at work in my child’s life, and invite me to be an instrument of change on their behalf.
Fear: I look at the world around me and fear for my boys because the society is so sexually charged; and fear for my daughter because feminism is everywhere!
Faith: I look at the world around me and thank God that He has seen fit to provide outstanding teaching about lust, as well as the roles of biblical manhood and womanhood. By faith I can teach them these things and believe that they will be a light in the darkness.
Fear: I panic that my sins against my children will damage them forever.
Faith: I believe that God is so amazingly redemptive, that somehow He is able to use even my shortcomings in the lives of my children for His glory.
Fear: I read a parenting book and think to myself, “we are all doomed because I will never be able to implement all of this stuff!”
Faith: I read a parenting book and think, “yes, I am weak…but He is strong, and His power is perfected in my weakness!”

God, as I parent these precious children that you have blessed me with, help me to do so by faith in You, and not by faith in my own abilities. If the success of parenting rested on me, there would be much reason to fear. However, Your character, Your promises, Your sovereignty, and Your faithfulness I have seen over and over in Your Word, in my life, and in the lives of each of my children therefore my heart is at peace and full of joyful anticipation for what You are doing and will do in my family.


7 thoughts on “Parenting by Faith or by Fear?

  1. Well put Laurie. If any of our children’s salvation and sanctification relied on us we ALL would be doomed. I know that when I realized that I am not responsible for my adult children and I can not save them from theirselves… God granted me peace and love for them. It really was amazing and wonderful. I can love the sinner and hate the sin because I stand on faith that God is in control and I am not…LOL Seriously it is a great feeling. I still am called to speak truth to them BUT I do not have to beat them over the head with it. Only God can change their hearts…Praise Him always.

  2. Well said, and what an excellent reminder! God is in control of our children’s salvation and all our actions toward them need to be done in light of that. Its all about our faith…no need to fear…what an awesome God we serve! 😀

  3. quite an encouragement to seek
    the Lord first before letting my
    sinful nature kick in & go wack-o
    in the fear department. thanks.
    kari jo

  4. Wow, I can certainly identify with most of these! I’m so glad I came in here tonight, I was curious about the link from the Titus2 site. 😉 It’s been a very helpful article thankyou. 🙂

  5. Great post – I find myself parenting out of fear sometimes too. Mostly with my teenager because the most common thing I hear from other parents is “Don’t be too strict or they will rebel.” That’s scary stuff right there! How do we keep our children separate from the world, but not be their “excuse” for going off the deep end??

    I have to remember that God’s word is true, He’s placed my husband and me as her parents, and that He is our source for wisdom, discernment, and mercy.

    Thanks for the encouragement to look at the faith part, not the fear.

    I’m a Believer!

  6. Needed to hear this. I too can convince myself that I will traumatize my children, damaging them permanently. But our God is faithful and can work redemption into our daily sin patterns. Praise Him!

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