This idea of parenting with out fear has been ruminating (I think that's my second use of the word 'ruminate' this week...) in my mind for awhile now. Probably more so since my oldest is nearing his 18th birthday and graduating high school this semester.
My mother was a teen age mom. She would have been the first graduate of the teen mother program at the high school she attended but I was born in April and dramatically slowed down her progress. She did graduate eventually. I can look back now and realize many of the things she said to me (on a regular basis) were provoked by fear. The way she parented me, was not a style of encouragement and freedom, although I am sure that is what she wanted for me. It was oppressive and smothering.
I can clearly see now that one, if not thee, greatest fear she had, was of me ending up pregnant like her. Many times she would angrily tell me how I would end up pregnant! So many times my inner reaction was one of knowing, no matter what I did, it would not be good enough, because I wasn't doing anything wrong to begin with but here she was so angry and so sure I was! How could I ever 'win'? It didn't take long before my new inner attitude was one of preparing to get out of there as fast as I could.....IF I ever could. After years of this, her words became somewhat of a self fulfilling prophecy. I wasn't a teen mom but I did fall fast and hard for one of the first guys to show some committed interest in me and we were soon engaged, pregnant then married.....at 19 years old.
And now here I sit with one on the brink of adulthood. Of course, there are choices I've made in my life that I don't want him to make. But I don't feel that fear is a good method for parenting. I knew there were certain aspects of my own childhood I did not want to repeat for my own children. Certain aspects of my own mother's parenting I did not want to copy.
So how to communicate the things I wanted for my son (& other children) with out letting my words be ruled by *fear*? It is more than simply NOT making accusatory judgments like my own mother. I had to completely turn around my way of thinking and that resulted in turning around my words. For some parents, I realize, this was a no brainer, but not having an example to work from I was on my own here....somewhat.
First tool was TONS of prayer. Since my children were born, I've prayed over them and their future. Last few years I've also asked specifically for wisdom, guidance and insight on how to most effectively communicate with them, not just AT them. I'm pretty good at communicating AT them all by myself. ;-)
Instead of speaking out all the negative things or bad choices he may or may not make in his life, I realized a better way. To speak out all the positive things I wanted for him. Highlight the positive characteristics he possessed, encourage talents God had given him. Remind him, God gave him these talents to use, to glorify Him.
Really, it's been about reminding him who he is *meant* to be. Reminding him of his identity in Christ. Responsibility comes with this, naturally. He is an example, I remind him. Others are watching him. God has a plan for his life. He is destined for greatness. He is to be a man who protects.
more thoughts on this later...