A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter
Anxiety in children was on the rise way before COVID but, unfortunately, it is even more prevalent now. Fear itself isn’t a problem—it’s an opportunity to either become empowered and take action or, God forbid, to take the opposite path and become anxious and fall into dejection.
Let’s take a lesson from Jacob as he prepares to meet his brother, Esau, while bringing his family home after years of living with his father-in-law, Laban. Genesis 32:8 tells us that when Jacob heard that Esau was advancing towards him with 400 men, he was very frightened and distressed. Immediately after the Torah tells us this—in the very same verse—it continues to tell us that he split the people that were with him into two camps to prepare for battle. His fear also spurred him to prayer and earlier, worried about a hostile encounter, he had sent presents to appease Esau. Fear that is overwhelming and leads to despair isn’t good. But fear can also be a motivator, a force that inspires us to act decisively and turn to God in prayer.
Mothers are known for worrying. Some of us even become specialists in the field! So I think it’s important for us to ground ourselves in this message. Fear is okay, but we want to learn to use it as a tool that drives us to prayer, to cast our burdens on God and put Him in the driver’s seat of our lives, as well as to take whatever action is within our control at that time. Once we’ve done those two things, we need to drop the fear.
There is nothing wrong with even a righteous person being frightened, but the important thing is to know how to react when we feel fear. Jacob’s fear inspired him to connect with God through prayer and to act productively with gifts and battle plans. Interestingly, that’s the last we hear of Jacob’s fear. Once he’s prepared in those three ways, he is no longer afraid, not even when he’s left alone and wrestles with an angel.
Out of all the lessons our children can learn from us these days, using fear positively is very timely and valuable. It is easy to catch ourselves fear-mongering, worrying, predicting, discussing negative possibilities in ways that build anxiety or fear. Instead, let us model the positive use of fear and discuss it with our children.