It was twenty-four hours before hurricane Andrew was to come crashing in on south Florida. My elementary age children were helping us get the shutters up and put away outside furniture. Our house was a whirl wind of activity, and I was totally oblivious to the wide-eyed fear on the faces of my kids as they ran around trying to help me get ready. Our home also had two guests: two single, female Christian school teachers from the school my children attended at the time. They were staying with us to ride out their first hurricane.
When the windows were covered and we were ready to lock ourselves in, my wife Rosemary pulled me aside and said, “Everyone is scared. It would be good if you stopped, got us all together and thanked God for His protection.” As I pulled everyone together, I realized Rosemary was right; they were all frightened about the fact that they didn’t know what was coming.
A simple prayer
My prayer was simple, but it had an impact that was much more than I expected. I thanked God for the fact that we live in a time when we get hurricane warnings and then I put our well being totally in His hands. I ended our prayer with, “Lord, we have done everything we know to do, now the rest of this adventure is totally up to you…and we are very happy that we are in your incredibly strong hands. Thank you.”
As soon as I finished the prayer, I said, “Who wants to play Pictionary?” Immediately my children were racing to find the game. They completely turned a corner on their fear. If their father was confident that everything would be okay, then they too were confident…actually even excited. Prior to the prayer they had been following me around with a worried look on their faces, but now they were totally past it and ready to play.
What was the difference? The hurricane was still coming. The object of their original fear hadn’t changed a bit. The difference was in the confidence and peace of their father.
Parents set the tone
Parents bring peace in times of fear. If mom or dad seem out of control and worried, it sends terror into the heart of the child. It’s amazing that facing the same circumstance the response of their parent can either bring calm or fear, and it’s all wrapped around our reaction. It’s not that a parent should hide the difficulty from the child. It’s that a parent can respond with a calm confidence that can be very instructive.
Parents play a major part in the development of the child’s “truster.” It is bigger than simply leadership in the home. This is about the beginning of the building of a child’s ability to trust what he can’t see by observing a parents trust rather than panic. As a child learns from the Peace and strength of their parent, it will be easier for them to understand peace when it comes to trusting their Heavenly Father.
My children didn’t understand the hurricane, but they trusted their dad’s peace concerning that impending hurricane. They didn’t lean to their own understanding and the things they were seeing on the television (Proverbs 3:5-6). They instead chose to trust with a childlike faith … initially in their dad.
Point to their Heavenly Father
This was the beginning of learning to trust. Next comes a parent’s responsibility to shift the focal point of that trust to their Heavenly Father. A child will sense when their parent is calmly lifting the situation to God. This communicates a confidence in God’s ability to protect. The children gleaned confidence from their parents’ calm. Next a parent has the responsibility to point to the love and power of God to protect from any storm.
Parents play a very significant role in the conquering of fear and the development of trust. A child’s trust grows even stronger as they see their parents respond to life’s challenges with a confidence in God. Over time that “trust baton” gets passed from a parent to the heavenly Father.
Through the past few years, we have lived through lots of changes in the world around us. And it almost feels as though we are waiting for the next thing to hit. One thing we can do as parents is consistently communicate the supernatural Peace that surpasses all understanding. Through this our children will see our faith and trust in our Father and know that He is faithful and trustworthy. What things can you do to bring His Peace into your home today?
Visit parentingonpurpose.org for more advice from Dr. Bob Barnes and Torrey Roberts.
For more articles by Dr. Bob Barnes and Torrey Roberts, visit goodnewsfl.org/author/dr-bob-barnes-and-torrey-roberts/