How to stay sane as a parent in a world going insane

Published on March 31, 2023

Remember when parents used to send kids down the street to play? No cell phones, no GPS tracking. No idea whose house they ran into or which woods they got lost in. Just a “be home for dinner!” and off they went, doing who knows what.

Today? Not so much.

No doubt the landscape of our world has always changed from one generation to the next. With new advances in technology, new leadership sworn into office, and new fashion trends, it’s to be expected.

And while it’s thrilling to live in a time when leggings are considered perfectly acceptable attire to wear in public and we wouldn’t wish dial-up internet on our worst enemy, it seems as if someone stepped on the accelerator these last few decades, doesn’t it?

Values we once commonly embraced now no longer align, and the issues the majority used to agree on are now extremely divisive. We’ve all been there—sharing our opinion on sexuality, education, if pineapple belongs on pizza (it doesn’t), the correct way to hang toilet paper (over), and whether or not the game is actually Duck Duck Goose or the obvious Duck Duck Gray Duck—and were met with raised eyebrows, a fierce Facebook thread, and vocal opposition.

Add on racial tension, political unrest, social media, conspiracy theories, and people trying to listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving, and uff da! We’re living in culture shock in our own culture . . .

Good news: Daniel gets us.

When King Nebuchadnezzar took over Jerusalem and charged his men to haul back the strongest, healthiest, and good-looking to Babylon, Daniel made the cut. Around fifteen or sixteen, this teenager was stripped of everything he knew—family included—and was plunged immediately into a godless culture with a new language, diet, and reading plan.

Nebuchadnezzar’s hope? After three years under this new regime, Daniel and his friends would be so immersed in the norm around them, gorging on its feast and regurgitating the next trendy saying, that they forgot their homeland. They rarely thought about their King. Their citizenship slipped from their mind because their new identity would no longer be founded on their God, but devoted to Babylon and its myriad of gods, ready to enter their royal service.

Good news: Because Daniel stands strong, he shows us three ways to stay sane as a parent in a world going insane.

1. Surround your family with godly community.

Rewind to Daniel’s childhood, and we see he grew up under the reign of King Josiah. This was the guy who employed men to rebuild God’s temple, discovered the Book of the Law previously lost, gathered the entire nation to read every word of it together, and called the people to wholeheartedly commit themselves to God once again. Josiah was one of the most God-honoring kings in Israel’s history, who taught parents to teach their kids the truth.

Because of it, Daniel didn’t stand alone later in Babylon. He had three buddies, also immovable in the faith—none other than Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—in the trenches with him. If we want to keep a sound mind amid a world losing its mind, close Christian friendships matterfor our kids and for us too.

2. Read, know, and act on God’s Word.

Daniel was assigned a specific reading with the charge to also pick up on a new language, and while no one is forcing us to become bilingual today, our culture is certainly teaching a new language around pronouns, gender identity, and sexual orientation. And sure, we’re out of school, but today’s assigned literature is often our scrolling on social media. We’re being fed whatever’s most popular on our feed.

Yet while Daniel was to be conditioned in this program for three years, most of us have been on Facebook for decades. Pit all these hours logged scrolling against the one hour a week we set aside for church? The five minutes we spend skimming the Bible? The two minutes before meals and bedtime we concentrate on prayer? Well, we can see why King Nebuchadnezzar chose the plan he did and why the enemy is employing this same strategy today.

It’s hard to allow God to renew our minds when the majority of our days are spent conforming to the pattern of this world. But like Daniel, when we read, know, and act on God’s Word, we are like a tree planted by water, unbothered by the heat and unworried in a year of drought, never ceasing to produce fruit (Jeremiah 17:8).

3. Know your identity in Christ.

While the chief of staff tried to slap a “Hello, my name is Belteshazzar” name tag on Daniel (meaning, “Bel, protect the king!”), he was not persuaded. His parents named him Daniel for a reason—which means “God is my judge”—and he shook his head at anything contradictory.

Are we doing the same? Our Father has given us new names in Christ, and the only way to stay right-minded in a world getting so many things wrong is knowing who we are. The enemy has his Sharpie poised, and like a toddler flying through a sticker sheet, he wants to decorate you head to toe in tacky adhesive: Hi, I’m alone. Anxious. Incurable. Unredeemable.

But in Christ, our name tag reads: Forgiven. Healed. Beloved, friend, and ambassador of Christ. Culture can push a new identity on us all they want, but as a family, let’s remember who and whose we are.

It’s up to us, parents. This world may be going mad, but good news for us: we don’t have to. Like Daniel who “was determined not to defile himself,” we can remain persistent in our convictions, stubborn in God’s ways, and single-minded toward our King—and teach our kids to do the same. In the end, we will see God’s way prove to be (exponentially) best.

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Heidi Lee Anderson

Heidi Lee Anderson is a writer, speaker, and stay-at-home mom. While crafting Instagram devotionals @heidileeanderson and writing kid’s curriculum @thismotherhen and teaching biblical online courses, she’s a master at cleaning up Cheerios spills and building LEGO towers while simultaneously chugging coffee like a Gilmore. Heidi has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from University of Northwestern, MN, and has spent her career doing ministry—from teaching hundreds in kids’ ministry to writing daily devotionals, Bible reading plans, and small group curriculum as a content developer. After being diagnosed with cancer, Heidi’s fuel is now to make sure that Christ-followers realize, know, and claim the sure promises God offers—in the mundane, amid the heartache, and on top of the highest mountains.

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