Gripped with fear, she peers over the covers to see the neon red light display 3:00 am. “Where is she?” her mother wonders. “Lord, please bring my baby home safely.” Glancing at the phone, wondering why she hadn’t called, the front door opens. A heavy sigh releases the tension; the covers rustle as she steps out of bed to check on her daughter.
“Mom, why are you up?”
“Why are you late?”
“Go to bed. We’ll talk in the morning.”
Fear of Letting Go
As a parent, our fears center around our kids. The story above is my own, but I’m not the mother in the story. No, I’m the daughter who didn’t call after missing curfew. My choices inflected distress and frustration for my parents, and most of their gray hair is my fault. But now, as a mother of an adult son and two teenage daughters, God has been good to open my eyes to His truth, and His truth brings me comfort.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. – Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Roman 8: 38-39 (NLT)
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. – John 10:28-29 (ESV)
Parenting by Style
According to USA Today, there are seven styles of parenting: lawnmower parenting, tiger parenting, elephant parenting, helicopter parenting, dolphin parenting, attachment parenting, and free-range parenting.
- Lawnmower Parenting is where the parent creates a path removing all the obstacles that challenge our child.
- Tiger Parenting focuses on higher education and strategically registering for extracurricular activities, reducing the amount of leisure time available. High expectations and uses tough love to motivate the child.
- Elephant Parenting focuses on the emotion of their child. Everything they do centers around how the child will feel.
- Helicopter Parenting is over-involved and always weighs the child’s risk, preventing them from making their own choices.
- Dolphin Parenting uses collaboration, flexibility, and balance when raising their children.
- Attachment Parenting wants close contact with their child. They use their closeness to determine the needs of their child. They are their child’s role model with positive reinforcement for good choices and loss of privileges for poor choices.
- Free-Range Parenting allows kids to make their own choices. These parents promote self-reliance and independence at an early age.
My kids would tell you I’m more of a helicopter parent, hovering close just in case. But God keeps reminding me of my own story as I watch in fear because I’m not in control. Remember the story above of the mother praying over her daughter? Well, I’m now that mother. On nights curfew is missed, or choices made that I’m not happy with, I’m praying, “God, please keep my child safe.” And “Father, keep their faith strong. Holy Spirit, remind them of who they are and whom they belong to.”
On those nights, God reminds me…“I was with you in each situation. Even when you thought I left, I was only an arm link away. I held you closed when the flames engulfed around you, so no embers touched you. I set barriers in your path to guide you. Yes, I allowed you to make mistakes, but, sweet girl, look at you now. My daughter, I was there for you, and I will be there for them. You can trust me with your kids.”
Godly Parenting Finds Balance
Friend, I believe God parents us in a healthy balance of all seven styles.
- God creates a path in the way we should go. Sometimes he removes the obstacles, but most of the time, we face them because he strengthens our faith and reliance on Him through those obstacles.
- God sets high expectations for us, read the ten commandments, but God offers grace, mercy, and forgiveness through the blood of Jesus when we mess up.
- God cares about our emotions but warns us not to allow our emotions to dictate our choices because they will lie to us.
- God is involved in every aspect of our lives. Nothing surprises Him!
- God is perfectly balanced and offers us ways to remain balanced in Him.
- God desired to be close, so close in fact He sent His Son to live among us and then died for us. Jesus’s death and resurrection connect us with His Holy Spirit within us. And you can’t get any closer than that. When I was a youth, there was a saying WWJD (What would Jesus do?) Jesus is our role model.
- God gives the infamous freedom of choice. In the beginning, God gave us the gift of choice. We still live with the consequence of our choices. See friend, God is the perfect parent.
I cling to those Scriptures above while my children learn, stretch, fall, and grow in their faith. We only have a short season to steward our children in the way they should go. But take heart, sweet friend, because our kids are in good hands. God knows what is best for our babies, and yes, lessons they need to learn will be tough to watch. But God is faithful.
God Calls Parents to be Flexible
So, where do we need to adjust our own parenting style to be more like God’s?
- Maybe instead of planning our kids’ lives, we guide them into adulthood—our role changes from being their everyday parent to coach.
- Our expectations become wise counsel. Encourage them to stay involved in church, schedule a one-on-one with the Lord daily, and find friends who will sharpen them.
- Our actions become their example (what to do and even what not to do.)
- Help them think through life’s decisions without making their decision for them. “I’m sorry that happened to you. What’s your plan? How are you going to fix it?”
- Be the arrow that points back to God every time.
- Become a Prayer Warrior standing in the gap for our children.
- And then… trust God to be God for His character never changes. He will always be good, caring, wise, all-knowing, mighty, righteous, love. His promises come true.
Friend, I can say with Godly confidence from my own story, He never left me nor forsook me. Even now, tears trickle down my face as I write this truth. And friend, God says the same about your babies too. Hold tight to His promises. There is nothing that can separate our children from the love of God. Once we place our kid is in His hands, there is where they remain.
Ok, so take a deep breath; it’s time to let our little birds fly. When we do, friend, we see the stability of God’s breath strengthen beneath their wings as they aim to soar across the sky.
Haller, Sonja. “What Type of Parent Are You? Lawnmower? Helicopter? Attachment? Tiger? Free-Range?” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 19 Sept. 2018, www.usatoday.com/story/life/allthemoms/2018/09/19/parenting-terms-explained-lawnmower-helicopter-attachment-tiger-free-range-dolphin-elephant/1357612002/.