Christian Living,  Marriage,  Parenting

Let the Adventures Begin: Trusting Dad in the Midst of Mom Fears

By: Terri Prahl

Photo by Peter Dlhy on Unsplash

It’s never a good thing when you receive an emergency phone call from your husband at work.

One summer day when my kids were small, I had the opportunity to earn some extra cash with a temporary job, leaving my husband with the kids. Jason had decided to take them to a park, and my heart sank when an office employee came to say he was on the phone needing to talk with me. This was long before we all had personal cell phones to instantly reach someone in a crisis.

Jason’s voice was shaky as he tried to explain what had happened to our 2-year-old daughter. Unsure of whether a doctor’s visit was warranted, he asked if I could come outside to look her over as they headed my direction.

My mind raced, envisioning the worst during that 20-minute wait. As I walked outside to meet them, I saw my husband’s eyes pooling with tears and my daughter sobbing in the backseat. Upon seeing her, the accusatory thoughts invaded my mind, regretfully leaving my mouth.

“How did this happen?”

“Weren’t you watching them?”

My careless words heaped further pain on a dad who already felt responsible for the injuries his baby girl had sustained. It was not my best moment for sure.

After soothing my daughter and assessing her injuries, we surmised that the blood looked worse than the actual scrapes and decided to take her home and clean her up before deciding on a visit to Urgent Care.

Earlier, my husband had been herding the kids to the car when they saw a small rock wall and decided to sit on it. Before they knew what had happened, the wall crumbled, rocks scraping the back of my daughter’s calves and ankles before they could even react. Unknown to them, the wall had not been properly mortared together, but merely stacked in uneven layers. It was an accident waiting to happen.

Unfortunately, it happened on my husband’s watch.

It could have happened on my watch as well. Yet, in those moments, all I could hear rattling around in my brain was that if I had been there, her pain would have been avoided. Surely, I would have noticed the poor construction and steered them away from danger.

FEAR REVEALED

I looked into my husband’s eyes and saw all the sorrow spilling out for the pain our daughter was experiencing that he couldn’t take upon himself. I also saw the guilt rising as he heard my questions—my tiptoeing around the desire to point a finger of blame.

It was my fear that had control over my behavior in those moments—fear that if not wrestled through, had the potential to destroy relationships on a deep level.

So, I hugged my husband, assured him it was an accident, and then we focused our attention on caring for our daughter’s wounds. Once we cleaned and bandaged her scrapes, it wasn’t as bad as we first believed. We carried her around for a few days until her legs healed, but she was soon ready to get back to adventuring with dad.

As for me, I had reservations about more adventures. There was still a part of me that held him responsible, causing doubts to creep in, filling my mind with ‘what-ifs.’

Though I wouldn’t admit it, inside I still blamed my husband for one of our children getting hurt on his watch. I was downright fearful.

Mercifully, the Holy Spirit has a way of piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and thankfully, I quickly took ownership of the pride rooted in my heart. I was puffed up in my ability to parent better than my husband—to perceive danger where he should have in my estimation.

If unchecked, that pride would have driven a wedge between the trust I had with my husband and the respect he deserved from me, his wife. The relationship he had with our kids would have suffered as well.

The times these fears were spoken left my husband feeling untrusted. He cared for his kids deeply, never wanting them to be in any danger. However, he also knew that living and seeing new things required some inherent risk. Staying inside the perceived safety of our four walls makes us feel more secure, but then we miss all the wonder and awe of experiencing the world God created.

Fear of ‘what may be’ is a joy killer and memory-making thief.

Deep down, I knew all of this. Intellectually, it made sense, but emotionally, it took constant work to remove my pride and pick up humility.

Staying inside the perceived safety of our four walls makes us feel more secure, but then we miss all the wonder and awe of experiencing the world God created.

I wish I could say that I promptly learned my lesson from this experience. However, there were many times when my kids left with their dad for camping trips that I would feel fear rising within me. What if something happened and I wasn’t there again?

As I processed this with truth, I grew to understand the type of trust God wanted me to have in Him, first and foremost, but also in my husband.

SHIFTING MINDSETS

Our culture has a habit of portraying men as careless buffoons who can’t be trusted to watch their own kids. We label them “baby-sitters” when left alone instead of esteeming them as the capable fathers they are. They most likely won’t parent like we expect them to, but God has uniquely gifted each of them for leading and loving their kids. Just as we need to mature, they also need the space to grow and become the fathers God created them to be. Loving encouragement and extended trust is the path to seeing growth where needed.

As wives and mothers, our view of our husband and children’s father needs to be modeled after the standard set in Scripture, not society. It takes intention to avoid being sucked into the wrong paradigm of thought.

Here’s what the Bible says about how wives should esteem their husbands:

Ephesians 5:33 (ESV) says, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

According to the Strong’s concordance, in this verse, respect means to show deference or humble submission to. It involves showing esteem due to age, position, character, or other source of honor. This is an honor that God Himself establishes for husbands.

When God tells men to love their wives, it is a Christ-like level of sacrificial love. It is the highest standard of love we can emulate. As wives, we are to show our husbands the respect given to them as God-fearing men and leaders. Humanly, none of us will perfectly earn this respect or love, but this is the mind of Christ for marriages. (This presupposes our husbands are men of God that love and lead with servant’s hearts.)

Our respect reflects the level of faith we have in our husband’s ability to care for the children God has entrusted to them.

GROW LOVE, NOT FEAR

When it comes to trusting our husbands and encouraging them to be adventurous with the kids, how do we do this in practical ways? In what ways can we let go of control—borne from fear—and trust God in all things?

We grow in the love of Christ.

I Corinthians 13:7 (ESV) says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

  • Bearing all things in love.

‘To bear’ means to protect or serve. Christian fathers are commanded to be leaders and guardians of their families. As wives we need to protect their ability to fulfill this duty.

We must take the weight of our fears to God and let Him carry them on our behalf. Our fear translates to their feelings of mistrust. So, one way to grow in love is to protect their ability to have fun and adventure with their kids without anyone (ahem, nervous moms) hovering over them.

Bearing all things in love requires fully trusting God to take care of the things we were never meant to.

  • Believing all thing in love.

This word, believe, means to have full confidence in someone or something. Loving like Christ means that we believe the best before assuming the worst—true grace in action. For our husbands, this requires us to believe in their abilities and God-given leadership.

We esteem, not ridicule.

We help, not hinder.

There is a significant difference between making sure they are aware of the needs of the children that they might not think to plan for before an outing and assuming they are incapable. Helping is edifying while second-guessing is belittling.

Helping is edifying while second-guessing is belittling.

  • Hopes all things in love.

To hope here means to expect or confide. When we express hope in fathers to behave in the ways God wired them, we turn from cynicism to joy. In my own marriage, it was such a gift to have a husband that loved to explore the city with our kids. It gave me a needed reprieve from my long homeschooling days and parenting nights. The kids viewed these times with delight. Fear squashes the joy that healthy expectation grows.

Hope provides space for building confident trust. When trust is developed, it increases the joy of the whole family.

Letting dads be dads involves hopeful expectation through encouraging them to soar without us. This mindset moves us from waiting for the phone to ring to resting in the hands of God.

  • Endures all things in love.

Enduring means to remain, abide, and persevere.

Learning to trust is challenging work. It requires repeatedly turning from our old habits to walk in the new ways of Christ. With His help, we can watch our husbands flourish in their unique relationships with their kids.

It has not been easy for me to see the way my husband allowed them to adventure off more than I was at ease with through the years. There were bumps and bruises along the way from hiking, biking, wrestling, and taking appropriate risks in exploring the world. If I hadn’t endured, they would have missed so much. Fear shrinks the possibilities for discovery and growth.

If you have ever lost patience or grown weary with your kids, this resource will help you think through how to pray through the tension and bring calm to your frazzled heart.

Fear shrinks the possibilities for discovery and growth.

RELATIONSHIPS FORGED

I am so thankful to have built trust in my husband from the beginning of our kids’ lives. Even though my daughter’s first injury shook me with fear, I fought to honor him in his role. This trust has allowed the bond between him and our daughter to grow into something beautiful, cultivating the relationship she needs with her dad. I never wanted her to have a sense of fear when pursuing fun with her father, who only wanted the best for her in all things.

Adventure has bonded them together, leading them to take trips across the country to make dreams come true even now that she is a young adult. Her dad is a safe place for her, and for that I am so thankful.

Only through laying down my own anxiousness and desire to control was I able to grow to encourage my husband’s adventurous spirit.

Through consistent prayer, I did my best to release my grip. God taught me what it means to love and respect my husband, granting me a glimpse into His own sense of adventure as my Father.

My heart trusts in Jason’s heart for our kids. And his heart rests safely in mine. Because of that, I believe, hope, bear, and endure all things for the flourishing of the relationships God in His sovereignty ordained.

When we grow in Christ-like love, we learn to trust God. His love can conquer our fears if we don’t close our fists around it.

If we don’t have a healthy trust with God, we will struggle to trust other humans, including our husbands. Begin with that conversation.

God has us. God has them. Letting Christ conquer our fears leads to the greatest flourishing for all.

Let the adventures begin, mom, and use the opportunity to take a much-needed break! 🙂

Do you struggle with fear and control when it comes to adventuring with Dad? How can you apply the principles of 1 Corinthians 13 to your relationships today?

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