COVID-19: Teaching Your Kids about Fear
When I was growing up, there was a clothing brand that was popular for about 19 minutes called “No Fear.” Do you remember that brand? I’ll never admit to owning a shirt that read, “No Fear: second place is the first-place loser.”
As a parent, it’s tough to navigate when your children experience fear. But here’s the reality: the world can be a scary place. Your kids face fear every day without a pandemic, much less with one: Will I make friends? Will I have anyone to play with on the playground? Will I pass this test? How does my hair look? What happens if I get sick?
The world is a scary place that produces a lot of fear, so how are we helping our kids face those fears? As their parents, we get the opportunity to show them that God anticipates their fear and very often addresses it in His Word.
When God rescued His people out of slavery in Egypt, they faced some scary opposition: a tyrant chasing after them, a potential return to slavery, and possible death. God had been true to His word over and over and over, yet when His people saw Pharaoh and his army appear, God’s people “feared greatly” (Ex. 14:10). Then they started complaining (This is beginning to sound a lot like my kids… and a lot like me!) Moses responded to their fears by saying, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Ex. 14:13-14).
Fear not. Stand firm. Expect God’s salvation. The Lord will win this battle; trust Him.
As a parent, it’s unrealistic and ultimately damaging, to feel the need to protect your child from every possible hurtful interaction or negative feeling. We may prefer comfort and safety, but Jesus invites us to walk in faith. Jesus invites us to lean on Him and rest in Him (Matt. 11:28-30).
- Teach your children to fear not in the midst of the trial.
The phrases “fear not” or “do not be afraid” occur 107 times in the Old Testament and 42 times in the New Testament. God is concerned with your emotions and fears. He does not brush our fears aside but leans into them by calling us toward faith. Do the same for your children.
- Teach your child to stand firm in the midst of their fears.
Moses was not saying, “time to man up! Show me what you’re made of!” The point is not to stand firm in your strength but to stand firm in God’s strength. Teach your children how to stand firm in their identity in Christ. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Alpha and Omega. He is all-powerful, so when He says, “stand firm,” you can stand firm.
- Teach your child to expect God’s salvation, even when they don’t see the end result.
Even when we cannot imagine how God will come through in trials, we can know that He is already preparing our rescue. In Exodus 14, the Israelites never imagined that God was about to rescue them by parting the sea in front of them so that they could walk across on dry land before He drowned their enemies. But that’s precisely what God did! Your child may not see the purpose or end result of this trial, but they can expect God to deliver. It’s what He does!
- Teach your child that God will win this battle and to trust Him, no matter what.
The world says, “believe in yourself,” but God says, “believe in Me.” The world says, “Hey, you got this! Be strong!” But our God— the one true God— says, “I’ve got this… stay right there. I got you.” The way of the world leads to exhaustion because you weren’t made to depend on yourself; you were designed to need God. Free your kids from depending on their skills or strength to be enough; teach them to place their trust and faith in God.
This pandemic means that many of us are facing a challenge we’ve never faced or even dreamed of facing. While we continue to rely on God and give Him our fear during this time, we need to shepherd our kids in this mindset as well. Undergirding all of those crucial life lessons is this fact: Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).