The Scariest Thing About Parenting

time square at night in manhattanWhen our daughter was born 21 years ago, my husband and I had help from my mom for a week. This parenting thing? No problem.

Then my mom left, driving 3-1/2 hours away where all our friends and relatives lived. My husband and I looked at each other, with fear and the question “Now what?” gleaming from our eyes. We had no clue how to do this on our own!

That had to be one of the most frightening moments of being a parent. There have been other incidents along the way: RSV, broken arms, squished fingers, hurt feelings, the usual parenting stuff, but nothing has compared to the fear of drivers training.

Think about it: we’re training muddle-headed teens to drive 1 ton killing machines at 70 mph. Is that crazy, or what? And no matter how well trained they are, there’s always the person in the lane beside them who’s texting while driving. Or there’s the inebriated driver coming at them from the opposite direction. What about the sleepy driver? Or the eating driver? Simply distracted driver? Then there’s driving in rain … snow … fog. Driving on ice-impacted roads. Hydro-planing on water-covered roads.


Right now I’m teaching my son to drive. It terrifies me. He hasn’t had the desire to drive, which makes it more difficult. He’s learning on city roads crammed with drivers thinking only about themselves. At least I got to learn on quiet country roads where the only worry I had was passing a tractor pulling a hay-filled wagon

Yes, as our children get older, we send them out into the big scary world, but few of those scary things require the quick reacting that driving does. Many of the choices they make that will impact their future are choices that have been that have been though over. Even if it’s just minutes of thought, those minutes can be infinitely longer than those split-second reactions that can mean life or death for the driver.

As I’m helping my son learn to drive, questions pop in my head: Why can’t parents have cars like the behind-the-wheel instructor, the kind with a brake peddle on the passenger side? Shouldn’t “Student Driver” window clings be given out in class? (You can buy one <here>) How can I drill my 30+ years of driving experience and instinct into his head within just a few months?

The problem is, I can’t. He knows the rules. He’s proven he can handle the car, but only experience will help him become a better driver; only experience will help him develop those all-important instincts.

And that’s the scary part.

But that’s also the part where I have to give it all completely over to God. I pray whenever my kids get behind the wheel–pray that they will use wisdom, pray that angels will keep them out of harms way. From the moment they take off, I have zero control.

For someone who thrives on being in control, this is a very difficult, yet vital lesson for me to learn.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

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