She mounted the twisted iron ladder to the monkey bars. “Be careful!” I yelled to my five-year-old. Surely she could slip and smack her face into the rungs.
Later, she danced in the living room, twirling to her heart’s content. “Be careful,” I warned. “You’ll get dizzy.” In my mind, every piece of furniture stood waiting to collide with her head.
At dinner time, she asked to pour the milk herself. I promise I won’t spill, she said. “Alright,” and yet the caution flag flew out of my mouth for the hundredth time that day. “Please—be careful.”
What am I so afraid of?
My momma bear instincts run deep and wide. I sniff out danger at every turn, fiercely protecting my cubbies from threats both real and imagined. Hey, I’m a mom—it’s my job, I tell you! God entrusted these children to my care, and I am determined not to mess it up.
So I teach my kids to be cautious. But do they also know how to be brave?
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline,” (2 Timothy 1:7).
If your goal is to raise a timid child, l can offer a few tips—from experience:
• Say “be careful” more than you say “I believe in you.”
• Pray for your child’s safety more than you pray for her character.
• Fear the world more than you trust God.
Terrible, isn’t it? I am fanatic about keeping my children safe. I want to spare them pain. Yet, beneath my anxious surface, what I really want most for them is faith—to love and follow Christ with unswerving devotion. That kind of life is meaningful beyond measure, but it may not necessarily be safe.
Sometimes, God asks us to take risks. Bold faith requires stretching beyond what’s comfortable or certain. What if God’s plan for my daughters involves traveling to faraway places? What if it involves chasing an impossible dream or discovering a cure for cancer or jumping out of airplanes?
What if they are to become mothers themselves? Such a calling is not for the faint of heart. My girls are going to need some serious moxie.
How will they get it if I never let them taste adventure?
She looked both ways then pedaled into the street. My eyes shifted from my daughter’s training wheels to the line of cars idled at the stoplight. Those automatic words burned on my tongue—be careful!—but this time I squelched them and delivered a different message instead.
“You did it, sweetheart! You’re getting really good at riding your bike. You are so brave.”
I wish I could say the same thing about myself. Caution and timidity are comfy old pals, but I’m working on befriending my spirit of power. With God’s help, my kids will not learn fear from their mother’s example.
We’re going to find our courage together.