Love-based vs fear-driven parenting shapes families
As J R Tolkien wrote, “A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a shortcut to meet it.”
I want to talk to you about fear – the fear that drives thousands of parents out there. And I want to talk to you about love. The kind of love that propels your children into their destiny with confidence. We cannot avoid fear that knocks on our doors, but we can confront it and deal with it.
When fear and love collide
Fear isolates, love embraces.
Fear speaks words of, “what if” whereas love responds with “even if”.
Have you thought how different your life could look if, in the collision between fear and love, that love won! It is possible. If the way you parented was directed by love and trust, how different would things be in your home?
Love and fear are not compatible, and if I were to choose, every single day, every waking moment, I would pick love. It sounds great, right? Honestly, it even feels good writing these words, but the reality is that sometimes I still battle with the effects of fear.
Looking back, did I parent out of love or fear?
Occasionally, fear influenced the choices I made regarding my children. Still, there are many instances when I chose the way of love. But, remember, there are no perfect parents just as there are no ideal children.
Parenting is either fuelled by love or driven by fear.
8 signs that your parenting style is possibly fear-driven.
1. You parent reactively. Instinctively, you react to situations, not giving much thought to your words or actions.
2. Fear of man pushes you into being afraid that your children might rebel or embarrass you. To combat that, you might drive them to succeed and force them to take part in activities that you deem worthy. Or, you threaten them or shame them to not embarrass you.
3. Parenting fuelled by fear often carries the past into the presents. You find it hard to let go of grudges or forget your child’s mistakes or failures – and you remind them of it as well.
4. You are distrustful – of your children, of others, of the world. I don’t mean that we naively go on with life; Instead, there is an underlying distrust. What would happen if someone were to snatch your children? You dare not let them out of your sight, even in their late teens.
5. You are afraid that your children will fall behind and the motivation for signing them up for every activity is to prevent them from lagging. I’ve experienced the pressure from schools and the sporting world to sign young children up for extra-murals just so they can make the team. There is a delicate balance here, and only you as the mom or dad genuinely know your real motivation for signing them up.
6. Your parenting style is defensive. The underlying cause of this is that you might be afraid of people’s judgements of the way you parent, your children’s behaviour and results.
7. Afraid of being rejected by your children and others, perhaps you you parent permissively, give them too much freedom too early on. Fear of rejection drives behaviours that please others.
8. You feel helpless or out of control. Consequently, fear of not being able to control your life or that of your children leads to over-controlling, high authoritative parenting styles.
Contrast this love-based parenting
1. You are proactive in your parenting style.
2. Love covers a multitude of sins and lives a lifestyle of forgiveness. Forgiveness is driven by a heart of love. There have been many times when I needed to ask my children for forgiveness when I spoke harshly.
3. Love combats fear, and therefore parents who lean into love are not afraid of life, and their children’s lives too. They trust the Lord with their children.
4. Love-based parenting creates a place of belonging for their children.
5. Discipline is a correction for future positive behaviour and not punishment for past mistakes. These parents discipline in love knowing that they are raising their children towards a purpose-filled life.
6. Love-based parenting involves empathy, honour and kindness. These three words pack a mighty punch. Empathy remembers what it was like for us when we were a young, honour releases favour and build relationships. Kindness softens the harshness of life. These sow seeds of hope into our children’s love tanks.
7. Parents fuelled by love are aware of the consequences of their own words and actions and equally so, hold their children accountable to the consequences for the way they live. They create a space for their children to grow and learn so that when they leave home, their children are resilient.
8. Love-based parenting sits on the foundation of each parent, knowing how deeply loved they are, whose they are. Then, from this place, they can love their children through every age and stage appropriately. These parents are learners and humble.
For me, 1 John 4:18 resonates deeply in my soul, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.”
So, I leave you with this final thought: Do you parent out of love or fear? Is there anything you can adjust in your parenting style? A fear-driven life can give way to love and trust. I’m an imperfect mom, a recovering fearful one at that and I choose love. Are you with me on this journey?