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I'm Such a Worrywart!

How can I keep from obsessing over my kids?

Dear Lisa,

I constantly worry about my two kids. Sometimes I lie awake at night thinking about all the things that could go wrong or harm them. Even praying about my concerns doesn't seem to ease my mind. Any suggestions for this anxious mom?

I remember when I experienced similar feelings. I not only worried about my children's physical safety, but also about their spiritual safety in the midst of such an ungodly culture. God taught me an important lesson that applies to both our fears.

I was at my church's midweek prayer service when I, along with many others, stood to indicate I had a special prayer need. I wanted prayer for God to protect my children because I was growing increasingly afraid for them, and I felt out of control. The older my children became, the more I felt them slip from my protective grasp.

The moment I stood to my feet, popped into my mind: "I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day."

Immediately I understood the Lord was telling me that while I never could protect my kids adequately, he could. All I could do, and ultimately all I needed to do, was commit them into his hands every day and then trust him. Good thing I know that God's more than able to take care of my children. You know that, too. Now hand your kids over into the only hands in which they'll truly be safe.

Combat Fatigue

My three kids just can't get along! They're always teasing, tattling, or fighting with each other. Since they're each only two years apart, they tend to be competitive. So if I do something for one kid, or grant permission for some activity, another will say, "How come so-and-so gets to do this and I don't?" It's fatiguing and frustrating!

Believe me, my three kids are the same way! I can offer two thoughts, one that's helped my kids, and one that simply helps me.

First, I've come to realize that 90 percent of what my kids argue about is stupid stuff that doesn't even matter to them. What matters to them is fighting about it. With that in mind, I've found it helps simply to try to make them laugh and then "just let it go" (my daily "mantra").

For example, one day my girls were bickering about something silly, so I interrupted them and announced, "All that squabbling is not music to my ears. So I want you both to go into the bathroom and don't come out until you've put your disagreement to music."

They thought I'd lost my marbles. But I insisted, and within five minutes they were giggling behind closed doors. After 15 minutes, they were in the kitchen performing their song, complete with hand motions. As you can guess, the disagreement was forgotten.

This trick can be as easy as making them stand toe-to-toe or shout to each other 20 times, "I love you, and you're my best friend." Hey, I've even used their plastic toy handcuffs to bind them together long enough to discover they really can get along. Talk about a good laugh!

But the thing that's helped me the most with their sibling rivalry has been an attitude adjustment—mine! I once heard a Christian radio-show guest explain that the family is a microcosm of all relationships. I realized relationships are some of the hardest things with which adults have to deal. So every time my children fight with each other, speak unkindly, or treat my authority with disrespect, I have an opportunity to teach them how to navigate future relationships. What a privilege God's given me as a parent!

Fashion Police

My adolescent daughter's turned into a fashion diva. She spends hours figuring out what she's going to wear to school the next day, shops constantly with her friends, and purchases fashion magazines that make me uncomfortable. She also wants to wear clothes that look immodest. She tells me all her friends in youth group dress the same way. Help!

With two daughters, ages 11 and 12, I'm living the same nightmare. Who stole my little girls and exchanged them for these hormonal young women? And from what planet did they get these clothes? Must be Saturn, because suddenly my daughters also want multiple rings, and I'm not just talking about on their fingers!

Remember that you're the parent and you have a right to insist that your daughter dresses according to what you feel is pleasing to God. I don't think you're being a prude to feel uncomfortable about today's fashions, or about the fashion magazines! Sounds to me like the Holy Spirit's nudging.

I haven't had this discussion with my youngest daughter, but I have with her older sister. After one particularly emotionally charged conversation about why I wouldn't allow her to wear a halter top, I talked to her about boys and the way God wired them. I explained how young men often are tempted to sin, especially in their thoughts, when a girl's body visually stimulates them. We also talked about what kind of message she wants to send by the clothes she chooses to wear.

This honest communication helped her understand the power she has to walk in the Light and, at the same time, help others not to stumble in the darkness.

Lisa Whelchel is the author of Busy Mom's Guide to Prayer (Howard Books). She and her husband, Steve, have three children. Check out her website at www.lisawhelchel.com.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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