Editor's Note: Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice on an issue in your marriage or family? Dr. David will address two questions from Crosswalk readers in each weekly column. Submit your question to him at TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com.
Dear Dr. David,
I have two young children who attend public school, and because of all the violence happening in the schools over the past few years, I’m thinking about pulling them out and home-schooling them. I’m just too frightened to send them to school, knowing there could be another mass murder. The problem is that I’m not just frightened to send them to school, but to have them participate in any community activities. It seems like things have gotten so much worse than when I was a child. Do you have any suggestions for dealing with the fear that something horrible could happen to my children? ~ Protective Mom
You’re certainly not the only mother, or father, that worries about sending their children off to school. With horrific events occurring across our nation, and around the world, we sometimes feel frightened and out of control. In fact, there are many aspects of parenting our children that are out of our control.
The question for all of us is, how do we live with the events such as what happened at Virginia Tech? Do we keep our children home and away from any possibility of danger? Or, is there some other way of living with this situation?
I have several thoughts on the matter, but would welcome feedback from others who want to sound off on what are appropriate actions to take.
First, we cannot control world events or the actions of others. While we would like to manage all the possible frightening situations facing our children, we simply cannot. Every day we send our children off to public or private school, they face potential danger. Parenting involves, in large part, letting go and praying for their welfare.
Second, we must be careful not to catastrophize about current events. While the events at Virginia Tech are horrific, they do not mean that every school is in danger of such an event. Ever since the Fall of humankind there have been events that confound us, make us question our lives, and create fear. But, we dare not live every day in fear. We need to deal effectively with this crisis, allow ourselves time and space to grieve and then learn what we can from it. I don’t see any value in teaching our children to live in fear, but rather to keep these kinds of events in perspective.
Third, we must learn to trust Sovereign God to protect our children when we cannot protect them. With so much of life outside of our control, we must learn to trust that nothing happens to us that doesn’t first pass through the sovereign hands of God. Nothing. And that should give us some consolation during these very troubling times. “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord.” (Romans 8: 28) The Psalmist, David, who faced many dangers, reminds us that God is our shield, protector, and goes before us in battle. We can lean on Him when we face uncertain times.
Finally, we must take the appropriate precautions we’re able to take. We are told again and again in the Scriptures to seek wisdom, and parenting certainly shouts for our need for it. Parenting involves making decisions every day that stretch our wisdom abilities. While we must take due precautions, we must also find the balance between precaution and over-protection. Just as surely as there are dangers in allowing our children too much freedom, there are equally as many dangers in stifling our children from over-protection. While not protecting them subjects them to needless danger, over-protection stifles their emotional growth, creating overly dependant, and perhaps even rebellious children later.
So, I suggest we guard against becoming overly frightened, and live in faith and trust that we can depend on the Lord to offer us peace in the midst of trials. Please write in and share how you and your family are handling these national catastrophes.
David Hawkins, Pd.D., has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years. He is the author of over 18 books, including Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage, Saying It So He'll Listen, and When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You. His newest books are titled The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Healing a Hurting Relationship and The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Living Beyond Guilt. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.