Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey

31 Days: How Fear Can Make us Over-Shelter our Kids

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{art: Léon-Augustin L’hermitte}

Years ago I attended a conference by a man who traveled all over the nation claiming to teach about fearless parenting.

He didn’t use the word fearless.  He used a synonym, one that means dauntless, valiant, audacious.

He proposed some radical means of parenting “fearlessly,” which mostly amounted to cloistering your children from any bad influences and hiding from the culture at large, setting lots of extreme rules and controlling your children’s every move.

Furthermore, he had an extensive list of plans and rules for his children’s future spouses, such as that they must live in close proximity to his family and have a habit of eating healthy foods.

The funny thing is that it’s hard to parent this way unless you are very scared.  Scared of society, scared of bad influences, scared of other Christians, scared of your kids and even yourself and your ability to disciple them in a hostile culture.

So this parenting method is not audacious at all. 

I believe that it’s a reactionary method rooted in fear and disbelief.

Dauntless, valiant, audacious parents trust God.  

They view their parenting through a greater framework of their total relationship with God and understanding of his Word.

They practice wisdom and protect their children from evil with the knowledge that our world is broken and bad things are going to happen—but God is able to either protect us from them or help us through them.

They let their children wrestle through questions and struggles to come out the other side stronger.

They disciple their children to live courageously in the culture,but not of it. 

They are OK with making mistakes as parents, because they understand that we are dust and that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness and he can fill the gaps we lack. 

They expect their children to fail, as fellow sinners, and they do not hold them to higher standards of perfect obedience than they hold themselves.

Parents should use wisdom.  A certain amount of sheltering is appropriate, I believe.  Each family and each child is different and we want to be wise about what we expose them to and when.  There are no rules for this.

But what a fallacy to believe that we can protect them from everything forever!

I’ve heard it said that if your children are never aware of sin and perversion, then when they’re confronted by it, they’ll recognize it immediately and be repulsed.  This isn’t true.

Even as we shield our children from the worst of the world when they are small, we also have to realize that in an increasingly decadent culture, the worst of the world will quickly find them.  We should act sooner rather than later.

It’s our job to proactively help them recognize evil, how to think wisely about it, and how to protect themselves from it.  If you’ve waited until your children are teens, I guarantee that the world has beaten you to it.  We worry that if our children know about darkness, that we are somehow throwing them to the wolves.  But I believe that by not walking and talking with them through it, we are leaving them open and vulnerable to a very loud, aggressive society.  That’s truly throwing your children to the wolves.

We don’t want to talk to our kids about the tough stuff in a way that dumps too much sordid detail on them.  Not in a way that tries to scare them silly.  Not in a superstitious way.  But with wisdom, grace, and common sense—all the while, trusting God through it.

This is fearless parenting.

A little disclaimer: I’ve lived most aspects of this post at one time or another, but I also haven’t finished raising my kids.  I’m finding my way too, and I’m sure I’ll make mistakes.  But these are my thoughts as they stand right now.

What about you?  Are you tempted to over-shelter or avoid talking to your children about sensitive, hard topics?  How to you talk to your children about these things?

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This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering

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Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!

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12 thoughts on “31 Days: How Fear Can Make us Over-Shelter our Kids

  1. Great post, Stephanie! I’m not a Mama yet (work in progress… 19 wks to go!) and I totally agree with you… As much as we would love to shelter our kids from everything everywhere, that’s not probably the most healthy approach. God is their ultimate protector, not us.

    Kind of reminds me of Finding Nemo, when Dori is talking to Marlin (the dad of Nemo.) He has promised to never let anything happen to him, and Dori said it was a silly thing to promise– because then nothing would ever happen to him.

    Random analogy, I know– but that’s how my brain is wired today :-) Thanks for these great thoughts! Glad I found you on SDG link up!

  2. Congrats on your little one coming! I love the Nemo analogy. You are wise to study and think through these things early…I know you’ll be a great mom! :)

  3. This post reflects many of my past and present thoughts on parenting. We must always honor the fact that we are the physical presence of God in our children’s lives, and act accordingly.

  4. Good post.

  5. Great thoughts…I started out as a very cautious, over-protected Mom. It was easy to shelter my babies when they were young. You can control your own television and radio, and the things they hear and see. As they have grown, I have, too. I think it is far more important to teach them how to deal with the world than how to hide from the world. Blessings!

  6. Thanks, Y! And teach them to trust God on their own as well…

  7. I agree, Sherry! In my observation, where some parents go wrong is that as they see their kids grow and observe the potential for independent thought, they freak out and clamp down. That usually backfires. You sound like a wise mom!

  8. You have touched on a core issue. Fear can invade our pursuit of health and our desire to protected our children from the culture. As a mom and a nurse I have journeyed through issues –making mistakes and learning. My training as a birth nurse and childbirth educator has given me insights. My best help has come from the Lord as I pray over concerns. When my kids were teenagers I made time to listen, often staying up when they were out so that we could talk afterward. Talking with the Lord, talking with my children . . . God is faithful.

  9. Thank you for your encouragement, Carol. As my older kids approach their teens I need to be reminded of the need to spend time just listening and talking even if it means staying up late…It’s a new season. I really appreciate you sharing your words of wisdom as a woman who is a few years farther down the mothering road than I am!

  10. My momma years are over. I loved being a momma but it was only through God and the wisdom He gave my husband and I that we were able to parent successfully. On our own we would have failed miserably. We started when our girls were young encouraging them to talk to us about everything. Therefore it was natural for them to continue talking about everything when they were teens. On the other hand we lost a child and I had to work very hard at not over sheltering and keeping them by my side every minute. I had to lean hard on God when they were away from me.

  11. Thank you for your encouragement, Pamela!

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