Raising Kids In Williamson County
How to Overcome Panic Parenting
Moving to Franklin, Tennessee … was not for us.
Finding a home in Williamson County wasn’t easy. Michelle and I have lived in Franklin since 2002, and we have loved it. In fact, at the time, when we were looking for our next home, we actually told our realtor, “Don’t bother with homes for sale in Franklin because we cannot afford it.”
God opened a door for a home here and it basically landed in our laps.
When that day came we were happy to say the least. We were super happy about the possibility of raising a family in Franklin. Great schools. Great community. Lots of possibilities.
Living in Franklin for almost 18 years we’ve learned a lot about ourselves, and about our community.
I’ve been heavily active in coaching sports for a decade now. Michelle teaches in the schools here in Franklin. We’ve both served on boards of non-profits, and we’ve been heavily active in churches the entire time.
We love it here.
We really do. What an amazing place to raise a family.
And yet I warn you: if you’re moving to Williamson County there’s something you’d better be aware of if you’re going to raise kids in the Franklin area.
Can I Ask A Favor Before We Continue?
I want to ask for a favor – a little bit of margin – from you.
Would you perhaps let this conversation you and I are about to have take time to sink into your bones … and just think it through … before reacting?
If you are new to Williamson County I want to give you some hope, because, this is a great town.
In fact, it’s a really great town – full of a lot of great people. Let’s face it … there’s a reason so many people want to live here; and yet I also want to warn you about a trap that exists in every neighborhood, and every school, and every ball park here; a trap that is so, so, so easy to fall into if you decide to raise a family here.
Chief among those traps is what I have come to call “panic parenting.”
I don’t know if that’s the best word to describe it, but it’s the best I’ve got based on what I’ve seen as a coach and a community leader; and it’s also something we’ve experienced as parents ourselves.
What Is Panic Parenting?
In the most simple terms I would describe panic parenting as this:
Panic Parenting is a subtle and sneaky sabotage of the home where parents who have a deep and honest desire to set their kids up for success – end up slowly making poor parenting choices – because what looks like love has become fear – and being driven by fear of any missed opportunity their kid might encounter – those same parents end up obsessing over short-term gains that undermine and forfeit their kid’s long-term success.
I’ve heard some people in Franklin call it “fear of missing out.”
I think it goes much deeper than that.
How Does Panic Parenting Start?
Panic Parenting is a clandestine toxin that creeps into every home at some point.
Why? Because panic parenting can have a chameleon-like surface color that closely resembles love.
What parent doesn’t want their son or daughter to thrive and succeed? We all want the best for our kids.
To want your children to thrive is just good love. And it’s good parenting.
We want our kids to make it, and so we don’t want anything in our child’s path that can set them back.
However, if your child doesn’t learn how to overcome struggles, if your child never experiences failures, even the really tough and nasty ones, then your child will become a teenage who feels entitled to a smooth ride.
And you know what happens to entitled teenagers? They become unbearable adults!
True Story …
I once heard about an elementary school teacher that had a science project for her fourth graders. They built a dry aquarium and captured a caterpillar so that they could watch it make the transition into a butterfly.
After several days they saw the butterfly trying to emerge out of the cocoon and they we overcome with joy; but their joy quickly became panic when they saw the butterfly struggling to get out.
The kids begged the teacher to let them gently open the cocoon to make life possible.
She told them it wasn’t a good idea, but they insisted.
The teacher allowed them to do it.
In the next day or so, the butterfly died. It could never fly. And the kids literally cried.
She sat them all down and explained, “I knew the butterfly would die. You see, kids, the only way for the butterfly’s wings to develop and get stronger is by having to force itself through the cocoon, but you didn’t allow that to happen. It needed the struggle to be strong, and by making it easy, we actually killed it.”
One way to overcome the sneaky toxin of panic parenting is to examine your motives as a parent.
Proverbs 16:2 gives a stellar insight here.
All the ways of a man are clean in his on sight,
But the Lord weighs the motives.
Being honest with yourself is super tough at times. I find that every time I have to examine why I’m getting upset if something isn’t going the way I think it should go for my sons, often I find that my motives were really more fueled by my fear of them losing ground.
How Can You Stop Panic Parenting?
This is us. At the Factory here in Franklin. It’s a cool picture, but I can tell you, we don’t have it all together.
Michelle and I most certainly do not have a playbook on how to methodically create amazing children. We are in the thick of it just like many of you are in trying to raise kids that grow up to be healthy adults. However, I do believe there are some steps you can take to insulate your home from panic parenting.
Call It Out When You See It
Michelle and I honestly do try and hold one another accountable.
Want me to be honest? It often doesn’t end well!
If she calls out a fear or insecurity in my thinking, I tend to revolt. I call in Parliament. Make a resolution. Draft troops. And make a ready defense of my kingdom!
Yet some of our best conversations come when we really do help one another walk the path together. And we are always better together.
Stop Trying To Be Your Kid’s BFF
God has not called you to be your son’s best buddy. And He hasn’t called you to be your daughter’s best friend.
Your kids need boundaries. They need PARENTS!!!! They need truth tellers.
Even secular psychologists are shouting this same message. Recently I read a stellar post from Psychology Today about 10 Reasons Teens Have So Much Anxiety Today.
Somewhere along the line, many parents began believing their role is to help kids grow up with as few emotional and physical scars as possible. They became so overprotective that their kids never practiced dealing with challenges on their own. Consequently, these kids have grown up to believe they’re too fragile to cope with the realities of life.
This is coming from people who don’t even recognize the power of God and they are saying much of the same thing.
Something is wrong in our culture. Our kids are imploding from what’s happening in the home … and you’re the parent.
You own the mortgage friend. Own the home, too.
Refuse The Comparison Trap.
If social media has taught us anything it has taught us that we are all super talented at creating a highlight reel for our peers to see our wonderful, amazing lives. The problem is, we all know that nobody’s life is that amazing.
We all have dark junk that we don’t post on social.
And if you raise kids in Williamson County, friend, trust me on this one, you are going to be tempted, over and over and over again, to listen to those voices in your head that tell you “you’re not doing enough and you need to catch up!”
Let me give you an example that is really, really close to home for many of us.
I’ve coached baseball in Franklin for almost 10 years now.
I’ve literally watched parents purchase a $150 bat for their eight year-old son. Along with a $100 glove. And a $85 gear bag. And the kid cannot hit a baseball off of a tee.
I’ve seen it not once – not twice … I see it every year!
And the reason that parents do it is because they don’t want their son to feel lesser-than by having a cheaper bat.
Never mind that he cannot hit a baseball. Never mind that in some cases he really doesn’t even want to play baseball! Never mind that as a coach you have to put him in the outfield out of fear that he is going to take one in the face because he never, ever pays attention in practice.
However … wait for it … his buddies are playing what? Travel baseball.
And as a parent you overhear all those other mothers and dads talk about the amazing hitting lessons that their sons are taking from former college baseball players who are now hitting instructors; and from the way those parents talk in the stands at Jim Warren Park, their sons are being clandestinely scouted by the Chicago Cubs even at the age of nine.
And so what do you do inside? You panic!
And where does that panic show up?
In the kitchen.
That’s right. In the kitchen.
You find yourself on the verge of an argument as one of you feels that your son needs hitting lessons because they are … wait for it again … they are “behind!!!”
Behind another 9 year old?
It’s utter insanity.
And yet my friend it lives among us every single day in Franklin.
Sports is a god in American culture, and it’s a god with a huge, huge appetite who demands satisfaction.
Please know: sports shaped my life.
I grew up the son of a PGA Golf Professional. I played every sport I could play. Sports have been a massive influence on my life and character development in far too many ways to qualify.
However, I’m telling you, we are professionalizing youth sports now to a level I never before dreamed. And the professionalization of youth athletics is ruining our homes and our communities. And it’s crushing our kids souls.
Refuse to compare your son or daughter to any other kid.
Refuse to compare your son or daughter to any other kid’s accomplishments.
Refuse to compare your son or daughter’s high school to any other school in this county.
Refuse to compare your son or daughter to any other parent’s parenting model, too.
I’m telling you … refuse the comparison trap.
Comparison will lead you down a road to heartache and heartbreak.
Invest In Your Kid’s Future By Discovering Their Personality Design.
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – Albert Einstein
One of the greatest turning points in my life came about the age of 30. I was finishing my doctoral work and a professor introduced me to the DISC profile. That moment birthed what is now a lifelong journey to understanding how God made individuals.
Michelle and I will quickly admit that God used the DISC to revolutionize our marriage.
When you know how God made another person, you stop seeing them as weird or abnormal. You begin to love and cherish their unique design.
We apply that to our parenting, too.
We cannot parent Cole the same way we parent Tucker.
If you really and truly want to see your son or daughter thrive … invest in their personality design. Help them identify their hard-wiring early; and teach them when they are young that they are not going to be a rock star in every area of life.
Why in the world does this matter?
When you help them discover how God made them, you start them down a path to freedom where they learn how God made them specifically. The Bible teaches us that God literally created us in the womb unique and by His design.
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made [Psalm 138:13-14]
When you know how God created you … and when you learn that early in life … you tend to avoid the comparison trap.
Now for the big moment …
If I could give you one simple insight, one truth, that will guide you as you navigate freedom from panic parenting it would be this:
Make sure your obsession for who you son or daughter will be at the age of forty far outweighs your obsession for who they are at fourteen.
This is the greatest threat to your child’s two futures.
Did you know your kid has two futures?
They have an earthly future – and – they have an eternal future.
And this is where I see panic parenting come into view almost every week. And I’m betting it touches homes far beyond Franklin, Tennessee.
Because it’s easy to fear your son falling behind in getting a scholarship.
Because it’s easy to fear your daughter falling behind in the path to a great career.
Because it’s easy to fear your kids are going to miss having the same opportunities that their friends have.
And so you take the bait.
You let fear sneak into your soul.
How does it show up?
You never eat at the table because sports dictate the evenings four days a week.
You force your daughter to go to math camp because you loved math. Granted they have been telling you they don’t love math but they love chemistry; but you fear them getting behind in math so you make them go.
You push them and push them to get involved in entrepreneurial initiatives through the Williamson County School System (they actually offer that which I think is crazy cool). But, maybe the problem is, your kid has no interest in business.
And as a parent, you are exhausted because you’re really not a parent, you’re more like a Parent Uber minus the benefit of a paycheck.
It’s a hamster wheel and it shows up quietly … but it will not want to leave once it’s in your home.
Why Do We Do It?
In a word: pressure.
We feel the pressure of high school graduation looming. And friend, that pressure is real.
I feel it, too. Honestly, I really do.
And so we make decisions on what kind of son or daughter we want to raise in the next four years … never even thinking about what kind of adult they are going to be when they are forty.
There Is A Cure
There is a cure indeed. It’s found in something Jesus said.
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36
You know what breaks my heart the most in Williamson County?
Watching amazing people, friends I love and live with daily, run themselves into the ground as parents trying to set their kids up for success between now and college …. only to watch those same kids become teens and young adults that have no idea of their eternity.
And why do they have no concern for eternity?
Because it was never the priority in the home.
Notice I didn’t say eternal things weren’t a priority in the home.
I said that eternal things weren’t THE priority in the home.
Jesus didn’t come to be “important” to your life.
Jesus is life.
Life cannot come apart from Christ.
I love my sons … but the brutal reality is that both of my sons are going to die one day. Literally.
And most parents across America are not thinking about parenting future adults who are going to stand before God some day.
And on that day, I want my boys far more prepared to meet their God because of their relationship with Christ more so than I want them to meet any standard this worlds calls success.
And if that is going to happen – if my sons are going to be men of God and great husbands and men who leave legacies in this world in the future – then I must make today’s parenting decisions with eternity in mind.
If this is going to happen, I’m going to have to choose to obey God’s voice than the panic voices that shout at me every single day.
Choose to live in freedom, not fear, my parent friend.
Let the eternal truths of Christ rule your home, and you will see peace take the place of panic.
Who is the authority behind your language? New Age religion is about you being the captain of your own destiny. New Age religions make you the god of your destiny. However, when you let the authority of Christ rule how you talk, you transfer your power into the hands of a different Authority.
Consider four parts of your being: body, mind, soul, and spirit. Then you might engage a few intentional practices of rest according to your personal needs, or use the practices suggested.
Marriage is not going to come easily, or without work. Keep at it. Don’t give up. Keep moving forward in them. Take each day as a new day. Marriage is a beautiful gift from God – when we keep Him in the middle of things, it’ll be just as He intended.