In this series, I’m sharing some of the most common questions I’ve been asked while speaking or blogging on the message of Control Girl. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I’d love to share what God continues to teach me about control. If you have a question you’d like answered, there’s a comment form below.

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Question 1: “But isn’t controlling your kids a good thing?”

But isn't controlling your kids a good thing? This is the number one questions I am asked when I write or speak on Control Girl. Here's my answer. Click To Tweet

This is the number one question I am asked, when teaching on Control Girl. Rachel asked it this way on the Revive Our Hearts blog:

I am a mother of a three-year-old and I face many challenges. You mentioned not to “control”. But what about when the three-year-old lays on the grocery store floor and won’t listen? A wise friend of mine suggested [in response to this situation] that as a parent, I am given God-ordained authority and I should never “lose control” of my child… or let him control me.”


I agree; a mom should work to maintain control of her young children. She shouldn’t lose control of her three-year-old or be controlled by him. Mothering involves laying clear boundaries and enforcing them. Even when you’re exhausted or overwhelmed.

So moms should maintain control of their three-year-olds, but what about their thirty-year-olds? Eventually Rachel will have to face that question. And if you’re a mom, so will you. 

Tim Sanford’s parenting book, Losing Control and Liking Ithelped me sort through this, especially as I’ve entered the stage of parenting teens and young adults.

Tim says that all of life can be segmented into two categories:

1) Things I Can Control

2) Things I Can’t Control

So what belongs in category one? Me. My behaviors, responses, and attitudes. That’s it. Certainly I can influence other people and situations, but I can only control myself. Everything else belongs in that second category: Things I Can’t Control.

So with these two categories, Tim suggests a HOLD and FOLD response. We should HOLD responsibility for what we can control, and FOLD our hands with everything else.


Is working to gain control of my child—the one who is throwing himself down in the grocery store—a good thing? Yes! As moms, we should take responsibility for the children God has given us. God wants us to train and raise our children, not shrug our shoulders as they throw tantrums.

As moms, we should HOLD responsibility for our children. We should buckle them into their car seats, give consequences for running out in the street, and train them to say please and thank you. We should also have self control, and refrain from parenting emotionally. We should give consistent instructions and consequences, rather than caving in. There are so  many ways that we will influence our children positively, as we hold responsibility for ourselves as parents.


But here’s the hard part. As parents, we must also FOLD our hands in surrender to God. Even when we buckle our kids in, lock the doors, and train about stranger danger, we cannot ultimately control whether our children will be safe. And even when we patiently teach, guide, and correct our children, we cannot ultimately keep them from sin. They will hurt us and other people. They will cause us grave concern and deep frustration.

FOLDing our hands in surrender to God involves letting God be their God. Only He can ultimately protect them. Only He can turn their hearts to Him.

When our kids are small it’s good to get into the practice of FOLDing our hands, and giving control to God. Eventually, when our children are grown, we’ll FOLD our hands permanently knowing that our job as their parents is done. We don’t do this in a fatalistic way, but rather a trusting way–knowing that God is their creator and sustainer—not us.

Here’s a good rule of thumb. When our children are small enough to crawl up into our laps, we’re mostly HOLDing. We are responsible at this point to train, care for, and protect them. But when our kids outgrow sitting in our laps, it’s time to get to work on FOLDing. Little by little, with everything from choosing their clothes to paying for their food, we are working ourselves out of a job.

We spend a relatively small part of our parenting with control over our kids. The rest is spent relinquishing control, and surrendering them to God.

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