Learning to fight is just as important for girls as it is boys, but I suspect this issue is particularly important for men at this point in our culture. I am part of a generation of men who have turned out to be passive in many ways. Some of us would rather play video games about war than actually leave the house and battle in life. I am not sure what all contributed to this trend. I am not sure that answering that question is the priority at this point. However, what is important is that we, men and women of every age, are awakened to the fact that they were created to actively pursue the path before us and overcome the obstacles that it brings. We learn to fight from God, who is a father that wars. In turn, we learn to fight for our children, who learn from us how to war.
Sometimes we as parents want to shelter our children in a way that discourages their active participation in the events around them. Sometimes this is because we underestimate our children’s abilities. At other times we just simply want to do it for them for the sake of time and convenience. However, what we often fail to realize is that we are training our children to sit back and let someone else take care of things.
God, who is the ultimate parent, shelters in a much different kind of way. We see this in Psalm 18, where God offers us shelter (v. 2) and fights some battles for us (v. 17), but he also prepares us for war (v. 34) to fight some battles for ourselves (vv. 37-38). If it was healthy for us to always be delivered by him I am certain he would do it that way all of the time. Obviously he thinks that it is important that we go out and participate in the battle, and not just sit back and wait for our deliverer. So, we begin to see that the obstacles on our path do not show up accidentally. They are put there for our benefit, that we might learn how to overcome them, that we might become mighty warriors like our Lord.
It is overwhelmingly tempting to rescue our children from the obstacles they face. Even the most determined parent will give into that temptation. That is okay. In fact, it is important for us to rescue our children from enemies that are too great for them. However, always rescuing them will cause them to fail to develop certain attributes for overcoming challenges in their life. With that in mind, consider some of the following ways to develop your children’s ability to fight and overcome:
1.) Don’t be a fixer. When your children are facing a crisis ask them, “What do you think you can do about this?”
2.) Don’t over-schedule your children. They may need to get a little bored sometimes, because getting bored is an opportunity for them to create new activity in their life. So, they need time for free play, time to explore and discover.
3.) The counterbalance to previous statement is this: make sure your children are involved in things outside of the home. Sports are a great option. However, if that is not an option consider hobbies and other activities. If you find yourself unwilling to bring a sport or hobby into your children’s lives take the time to ask yourself why that is. Often we as parents are unwilling to take on these activities because of our own insecurities. We tell ourself that we have the best interest of the child in mind, but in fact we are avoiding our own anxieties. If you are unwilling to help your children find new activities challenge yourself by exploring whether or not your own anxieties are in fact the root of the problem.
4.) Your children don’t have to always be okay. This is a difficult one. It goes against all of our parenting instincts. However, God puts obstacles and challenges in our life in order for us to overcome them. So, those struggles in your child’s life actually have a purpose. Be careful not to remove them. And be careful not to accidentally train your child to avoid them.
God trains your hands for war, and expects you to prepare your children for battle. Have you lost your fight? Have you let your children run into battle? Today is the day. Today we fight.