Tag Archives: childhood

Parenting From fear

Looking into yesterday can be painful but productive. At least my youngest two children will have a mom who can parent from wisdom instead of through fear.

Twenty-five years ago, I was a young married woman having children every 2.5 years. I had no idea the intricate fear structure in my soul that influenced my parenting.

As I look back, I see myself – picking up my kids from the rare occasion of having a babysitter, quizzing them and analyzing their body language for the first five minutes to try to discern if something bad happened. Subconsciously, I micromanaged their childhood moments so that they’d never, ever experience sadness or pain.

My concerns were legitimate. I clearly remembered many of my childhood experiences and was in the process of cleaning myself from the unhealthy residue of those experiences. Statistics show that bullying and peer-to-peer sexual abuse is increasing. But there is a difference between parenting from peace-filled wisdom and fear-based projection.

I’m a bit in shock as I sit a few months from turning fifty, and realize that no matter how successful my four young adults are today, that success is a product of the gracious and healing hand of God. Although most people would have never known it, and my husband and I certainly didn’t at the time, but one child dealt with suicidal thoughts as a nine-year-old, another experienced tormenting dreams that paralyzed them physically while they slept, and another dealt with a huge amount of self-rejection at age five.

But I get it. I’ve read online articles, books and blogs about everything from epigenetics to early child development and I know now that my own early trauma was not only passed down to my children, but that it caused a bent in my God-focused journey. A bent inward, like an arrow jabbing at the deep wounds in my soul. Each child’s birth was an unconscious trigger. I didn’t realize that my motherly effort to “save” them from pain was a symptom of my own need to be healed.

We live in a broken world. We have to face the reality of the war zone we were born into. One way that Jesus destroys the works of the devil is through us overcoming struggle and hurts and wounds with His help, not in our own strength. I can’t keep my kids from every situation that will make them cry, but I can weep with them. I can’t monitor every friendship, but I can teach them how to choose wisely and pray for them. I can teach them about the world-brutal but beautiful, hate-filled and divisive, yet filled with people who will genuinely accept them for the content of their character.

Most of all I can point them to Jesus. He fills. He restores. He heals and teaches anyone who comes to Him.

Psalm 91: 14-16 “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in [e]trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
“With [f]a long life I will satisfy him
And [g]let him see My salvation.”

In another post, I will discuss why the Bible calls children, His “arrows”. What a mighty purpose they have!

Our Greatest Cheerleader

“That’s great, Tina!

My fingers ran clumsily over the white keys of my mother’s piano. I was lost in a childish reverie of imagination. One minute I was a concert pianist and the next, I was a daughter whose silly playing was lulling her dad to sleep.

My dad sat behind me in my mother’s rocking chair, rocking and dosing, in no rush to leave, which surprised me but warmed my heart. My daddy was content to hear me play on the piano even though I’d taken lessons for a short time.

“Oh, play that again, that was nice!”

This memory is etched in my soul. I treasure it since so many memories of my childhood years had to be healed by God’s compassion. As a child, I didn’t see my dad relaxed and content very often; his time was usually spent on projects or sports or shouting and it’s the latter that makes this single moment a gift from God.

Silhouette of little girl leaping in the sunset.

As children, it is appropriate to want a parent, a favorite teacher or any regular caregiver to be our greatest fan. We are born needing affirming words. Studies have been done showing that babies respond differently whether they see a frown or a smile.

There are times when the people most vital to our care cannot give us what we need. It’s a painful reality that often shapes our emotional development and taints our self-image. My gift, this memory that God brought forth during a season of emotional healing, showed me that my dad had a tender place in his heart for me.  Some people don’t have a memory like this to hold on to and for years they scratch their hearts wondering, “What was so wrong with me that I couldn’t be loved or wanted?”

For many people, over time the mystery unravels and family secrets are brought to light and the scratching of the head becomes a nod of understanding that heals the ache a little. Understanding can help begin to close the door of pain, but the void remains. We need to be affirmed and encouraged. We need someone who takes pleasure in our existence.

For me, the road of healing opened my eyes to a screen that exists between my tangible temporal reality and the unseen eternal reality. I needed to see the unseen. Though the screen I saw the fears and insecurities behind the shouting. I saw parental heartache when material displays of love went unreceived by a bitter and hurting teenage girl.  What brought the most healing was when my eyes saw a figure reaching his arms to the little girl within my soul, urging me to come to him and be held so that his divine love could make every bad memory fade away. I saw scenes from my childhood home where this figure stood in a corner of a room, weeping and praying and agonizing over the pain felt by the humans in the room. His nail-scarred hands were chained – human pride and resistance had shackled his ability to deliver and rescue. I also recognized this figure as the man hanging on a cross in a book in one of my grandmother’s bedrooms. For years, my spiritual eyes would look behind the screen and see the figure with the outstretched arms encouraging me to come to him.

Finally, one day I saw behind the screen again and the little girl that was me crawled up onto his giant lap and buried my aching head into his bosom. My tangible pain was washed away by my new eternal reality. Isaiah 53:4  Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…

Psalm 28:6-7 Blessed be the Lord, Because He has heard the voice of my supplications! The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.

Jesus is our biggest cheerleader but most of us don’t know it. He’s there in the darkest scenes of our lives, trying to show us that he is not the author of those scenes but the desperate rescuer trying to break through the darkness. He’s the one that brushes the dirt off of our knees when we fall and when we fail he reminds us to come to the throne of grace to find mercy and grace to help when we are in need.  When we long for affirmation and encouragement, we have to ignore the silence of our parent, the teacher or the caregiver and hear him say, “That’s great son!” or “That’s great, daughter!”

Psalm 27: 10-14
When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me…
 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living. Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

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