“I see that my neighbour’s daughter is confident and carries herself very well. The school does make a difference in the student’s development!”

“I hear this enrichment course produces really smart teenagers. I’d better send my kids there! I will provide the best for my children even if I have to pay through my nose. Their success is my success.”

“I always remind my son to do more assessment papers. It’s the only way to improve.”

“I shoulder all the housework and clean my daughter’s room because she needs the time to study and rest. Otherwise, how will she top her class this year?”

“I give my kids good nutrition and plenty of vitamins so they would stay healthy and not fall behind their peers.”

“I’m worn out from driving my son around to all his activities and programmes, but for his future, it’s all worth it!”

Does any of the above statements sound familiar? In Singapore’s stressful competitive environment, it may not be far-fetched to say that worrying has become part of many parents’ job description.

Parenting: A Lifetime of Worry?

One of the topmost concerns of parents is that our children must “make it”. This goal of succeeding in life often includes excellence in studies, good health, and social standing. To ensure that our kids succeed, we try our best to provide them with an all-rounded growing up experience.

Besides signing our children up for tuition classes, we also look at enrichment courses for arts, sports, and computer programming. Many kiasu parents believe that if we can afford it, we should give our children a head start—from playschool and pre-school to after-school and beyond school.

No doubt, parents believe that they are doing these things out of love and responsibility. However, in reality, we may also be highly motivated by fear. What if my son doesn’t get into the right school? What if my daughter ends up in the normal stream?

We think it’s love, but it’s also fear that drives many of the choices and decisions we make for our child.

The thought that our children may not have as bright a future as we desire for them can be frightening. It has led to parents taking carefully-planned measures, with some starting their children off as early as when they are only toddlers. 

We think it’s love, but it’s also fear that drives many of the choices and decisions we make for our child. 

Is it okay for parents to be motivated by fear? Let’s take a look at the difference between legitimate fear and non-legitimate fear.

Examining Our Fear

Fear happens primarily because of uncertainty or potential danger. When a child chooses to skip school and hang out with bad company, a parent’s fear for their child’s safety is legitimate.

When a parent’s fear is borne out of false belief or an imagined threat, however, it is a non-legitimate fear. You could call this parentnoia. Parentnoia is excessive worrying that results in a need to control every detail of our children’s lives. 

Our natural response to fear—both legitimate and non-legitimate—is to try and take control of our circumstances. This helps us to feel better, but only for a while. Soon enough, we will realise that it is impossible to have control over everything and we will continue to worry. 

Fear can lead us to disregard the Lord and His sovereignty over all things.

Consider this, however: although there are things we cannot control, we can control our reaction. Psalm 37:8 tells us: “Do not fret—it leads only to evil.”

What evil can fear and worry lead us to? 

Isaiah 57:11 tells us: “Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have not been true to me, and have neither remembered me nor taken this to heart? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me?”

Fear can lead us to disregard the Lord and His sovereignty over all things. It can cause us to doubt God and His word. The problem of parentnoia is an unbelief in God’s goodness, omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. 

As parents, the source of our security is reflected in our willingness to release control of our children to God. Will we be led by our fears—or by the fear of the Lord?

A Godly Man, A Godly Fear

The Bible refers to Job as a “blameless and upright” man who “feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). Job’s personal walk with God and his fear of the Lord influenced what he did for his children:

His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom. (Job 1:4–5)

This passage reveals several elements in Job’s godly fears and shows how he applied them to godly parenting.

  1. Job was fully aware that his children, like himself, were fallen creatures. So he was concerned that his children could be careless and inevitably “offend” the God he feared.
  2. Job wanted his children to walk rightly with God. Hence, he sacrificed burnt offerings on their behalf. This is a precious lesson for all God-fearing parents—we should always be concerned for our children’s walk with God.
  3. Job kept God in the picture when addressing his concerns. How liberating to know that we can bring all our concerns to God in prayer!

Tips for Godly Parenting

Working out our fears as parents means being willing to prioritise our children’s spiritual growth above other pursuits. Godly parenting goes beyond helping our children to maximise their potential. 

Here are some simple suggestions you may find helpful:

1. School and Enrichment

  • While ensuring that our children give due attention to their studies, set aside time to pray and read the Bible.
  • Monitor the amount of time spent on after-school activities and enrichment programmes. If our kids are often tired and trying to sleep in on weekends, it is time to cut down on some programmes.

2. Social Relations

  • Spend time talking to our children about their friends and peers.
  • Pray with our kids for their friends.

3. Spiritual Growth

  • Encourage our kids to attend church and youth group activities even during periods of heavy workload and exams. If necessary, work out a weekly schedule with them and help them to keep to it.
  • Have regular conversations with them about what God has been doing in their lives.

4. Physical Health

  • No amount of chicken essence and multi-vitamins can replace teaching our children to be responsible for their physical well-being. Allow them to learn from their own choices and consequences.


This article was first published in Age of Opportunity, a publication of Singapore Youth For Christ, and is adapted with permission.


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