If you have children who are a few years old, you have no doubt experienced fear in your child. Mine never seemed to be afraid as infants–thunder could roll through in the middle of the night and they would sleep right through it. However, sometime around 18 months to 2 years, things like this really began to upset them. The older they get, it seems their fears become more real.
We were at a local festival when the girls were ages 4 and 5. The fire department had set up their truck for kids to see, as well as one of their “practicing” tools, a trailer that had an alarm and emitted smoke so kids could practice getting out. Even though Daddy went through it with them, this created fear in my girls for weeks after because it was so real. They were afraid our house would catch on fire.
Miranda is reading a biography for a book report on Eleanor Roosevelt right now. One of the things that stood out to her was that both of Eleanor’s parents died while she was only 5 years old. Last night, Miranda had trouble sleeping because she was afraid that something was going to happen to Mom and Dad.
When our kids experience fear, we do what we can to comfort them. However, I can still remember being a child and lying in bed with my fears. Even when Mom left the room, I still felt fear. She may have comforted me with her presence, but as soon as she was gone, fear returned. It is impossible as a parent to remove the fear, so what we try to do instead is to build their trust.
For me, it is important that their trust be in Someone who will never fail them. I could try to convince them that Mommy and Daddy will never let anything happen to them, but what if something DOES happen? I can’t promise them that our house will never catch on fire. I can’t promise them that Mom and Dad will live forever. But what I can promise is that if those things happen, they need to put their trust in the One who loves them more than I can. I can reassure my children that we will do everything we can to protect them, but that we are still human. If they are putting their trust in Mom or Dad, we can disappoint them. If they are trusting in God, they can always trust that His way is right.
So when I leave the room, they probably still have to fight their fears, but I know I’ve given them the tool they need to fight them. (And I return to my room and pray like crazy for God to comfort them and help them sleep!)