This week I had the opportunity to speak to a room full of millennial moms. I started my talk this way…
“Once upon a time, in a land right around the corner lived a whole community filled with very loving and well-intended mothers. These moms waited and chose to have their children a bit later in life. They may be the most competent and self-reliant parents of any generation.
They are very knowledgeable about child development. They are totally tech savvy and cherish documenting everything about their child on social media. They are incredibly child focused, and spend a great deal of time interacting with their child.
They deeply value being a good parent. In one study, 61% of them rated being a good parent over having a lasting marriage.”
That’s all the good news.
But because they live in a village that insists on bombarding them with a challenging climate of uncertainty (post 9/11), conflicting messages, poor role models, and the relentless barrage of difficult and bad news, they have found themselves parenting out of fear.
And we are passing our fears onto our children. A study by the Johns Hopkins University found that 30 years ago kids were afraid of animals, being in a dark room, high places, strangers and loud noises. Today they are afraid of divorce, nuclear war, cancer, pollution and being mugged. And too often, the number one stated fear is failure. “The fear of ghosts has been replaced by the terror of under performance.”
Parents fear that their kids will experience the same unfulfilled dreams/hurts/ rejections that they did. So they overcompensate and micro-manage their child’s world.
These younger parents don’t want their kids to struggle socially, fail at any game or challenge, and want them always to be chosen or selected, and heaven knows they always want them to “win.”
I couldn’t help but think about the metamorphosis of a butterfly. Caterpillars hang around all day and eat. Chrysalis (cocoons) are in the resting stage. When butterflies finally make it out of the cocoon, their wings are damp, they are soft, and folded against their body. If they don’t struggle as they emerge, their blood won’t start pumping and they will die. It is the process that makes the metamorphosis complete.
And so it is with children. We dare not rob them of their stages of development because of our fears. Remember, those stages include some challenges, some failures, some hurts and even a broken bone or two.
Parenting is hard; and doing it from a platform of fear is devastating for the parent and the child. Keep in mind that before they were yours, they were His. (“Behold, children are a gift from the Lord…” Ps. 127:3). So let’s thank Him this week and lighten up on the reins. Ignore the Fear!