My wife and I are currently reading your parenting book, The Quiver [republished in 2017 as Principle-Centered Parenting]. I can't tell you how much pressure I feel as a dad. I want so badly for my two wonderful children to love God and become disciples, yet it seems like there is no formula, as long as free will exists. How do I enjoy this time, without worrying about the decisions they'll make when they get older? How do I not feel the pressure of "What if they don't make it?" I am exaggerating a bit, but I do feel that my anxiety will destroy my child's chances. (Parenting books make me afraid, very afraid—yours less than all the others.) Can you give some advice to help me think about it the right way?”—Alex Whitaker (Seattle)
How to enjoy the parenting years? You are an evangelist, so maybe there is an analogy from your ministry to parenting. How do you know that the brothers and sisters in your group will make it to the end? Can you enjoy your work with the possibility that some of the brothers and sisters will make wrong choices? What do you do?
* You expect the best.
* You hope for the best.
* You pray for the best.
* You give the benefit of the doubt.
* You respect the individual.
* You understand that your relationship with God—and joy, as in Luke 10:20—come through Jesus Christ, not through how others are doing.
Anxiety can lead to control, and to overfunctioning as a parent. So pray, submitting your heart's thoughts and desires to God. At the other end of the spectrum, of course, is the distant father or even "softie" male figure. Kids need boundaries, just as church members appreciate the firm side of leadership. Dwelling at either extreme leads to insecurity. I wish I myself had struck the balance! It is so hard to know. Time will tell, I suppose, but in the meantime I will not let uncertainty rob me of my Christian joy, satisfaction, and equipoise.
This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only. © 2006. Reprints or public distribution is prohibited without the express consent of Douglas Jacoby.