A while back I was talking to my son who had just graduated from college. He had paid his own way through school, rented his own apartment, purchased his own car and I was congratulating him when he looked at me and said “yeah I did it. I did it myself.”
He had this really piercing gaze, so I said “yeah, you did. Good job!” And I meant it. But afterwards I kept wondering why he had looked at me so intently. There was obviously something more behind what he was saying, but I couldn’t figure out what.
A few months later I was watching a YouTube sketch from Studio C about this 90-year-old driving instructor who has three new drivers in the car. As they begin to start the car, right before they turn the key he says “watch out! If you don’t have the car in park you could lurch forward, drive through a fence, go over a cliff and die!!!” The new drivers obviously freak out.
When everybody calms down and they’re about to pull out of the parking lot onto the road, the instructor blurts out “watch out! If you don’t check your blind spot a car could blindside you and you could die!!!”
They drive down the street a little further and they’re about to merge on to the freeway when he again exclaims “watch out! If you don’t merge on time you could get hit and die!!!”
In the midst of all of this, the new drivers are understandably so terrified that they finally jump out of the moving car, thinking that if they’re going to die anyways, they might as well just get it over with.
As I was watching that sketch, I realized that the instructor…was me. I’ve been a freak-out parent.
No wonder my son was looking at me so intently and saying “I did it myself.” While he was growing up, I pounded into his head all the time how difficult life was and how he had to be ready for it. What was I trying to do was instill within him an appropriate prudence so that he would he would be prepared for the world…but instead what I did was instill a disordered fear.
I didn’t build his confidence, I built this wall of fear, that everything was going to be so difficult…so as funny as that sketch was, that was me and that still is me at times. I’m this freak-out parent.
So what’s the cure to freak-out parenting?
First, I need to be encouraging of my children. I need to let them know that they can make it in the world on their own. Then, I need to entrust my children to God. He’s their father far more than I am, so I can trust that He will take care of them. He’s given them the gifts that they need to navigate life. Lastly, I need to love patiently no matter what happens. Sometimes, my kids will make mistakes, but that’s part of the journey.
So, the cure to freak-out parenting? Trust God.