Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Protecting or handicaping?

Does anyone else struggle with this or am I the only one?  In an effort to want to protect our children from "bad influences" I really have a hard time knowing when to let go and let the kids test their wings.  I want to be able to give them opportunities to be tested and grow, but sometimes I have a hard time trusting that they will make the right decisions.  And they might not, but I need to not be afraid of their failure.

I tend to want to control every situation so they won't be set up for failure.  Every time we encounter a bad situation or a bad influence I want to pack us all up and head for home, vowing to live the life of hermits from now and and not go anywhere.

I recently picked up a book at the church library entitled Why Christian Kids Rebel by the author of Grace Based Parenting.  While our kids are not rebelling I was curious as to why this scenario happens all too often and what we could do to help prevent it, because like all parents I worry about it.

Only 2 chapters into it I am already convicted.  One of the main reasons he gives for christian kids rebelling is keeping them in a christian "bubble".  The author gently admonishes us that as christian we have the least to fear from the world, yet so many of our decisions are made because of fear.  But "greater is He who is in us than he that is in the world!" (I John 4:4).  Of course we need to use wisdom (because the bible also says "a child left to himself brings shame to his mother" Prov. 29:15), but to think that I can completely control every situation in my child's life is a bit presumptuous on my part, and in the end more hurtful than helpful.

The author also gave great advice to know when to step in to help and when to let things take their natural course.  Is this situation hurting my child or harming them?  Hurting is when the child brought the consequence upon themselves or is a situation they can take care of themselves.  Harmful situations are ones where they can not help themselves (think abuse or major bullying).  We do need to step in on the harmful situations but we need to let them learn to deal with the hurtful situations.

These thoughts reminded me of a situation that occurred about a year ago when our homeschool group held their annual field day.  Early in the day a child discovered a baby bird hopping around in the grass, apparently lost, and so quickly scooped him up and started looking for his mother.

 Certainly cute, but I just had this feeling that the bird should have been left alone, although I didn't know why.  So when I came home I did some research and found out some interesting facts.  In the late spring you may often find fledgling birds, unable to fly, hopping about in the grass, seemingly fallen out of their nests.  However this is the mother bird's way of teaching her birds to get along in the world without her.  She pushes him out of the nest and he hops about for a couple of weeks while she keeps an eye on him.  Picking him up, boxing him up, or worse, taking him home to "care for him" only hinders his maturing process.

It also makes me think of plants grown in greenhouses or indoors.  Plants grown from seed straight in the garden are much hardier than ones grown in greenhouses.  And those grown in greenhouses need to be slowly acclimated to outside temperature fluctuations or they will wilt and die their first night outside in the cold ground.

I must struggle with this more than other people.  I must have control issues.  Please tell me I'm not the only one!  The thought of sending my child to over night camp gives me heart palpitations.   Hearing of my kids having to deal with mean kids can make my blood boil.  I really do want to box up my little birdies and fly away to our safe nest, but I know it is not the best for them

One thing I have to continually ask myself is, is my decision rooted in fear or faith?  If it's fear we are letting the enemy control us, if it is faith we can't lose!

So I'm taking baby steps, as Bob would say.  Baby steps to two different day camps this summer, baby steps to carpooling with new friends, baby steps to dropping Grace off at a new volunteer position at a horse therapy farm.  Over night camp?  Don't push it.  We'll get there...

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33


  1. I think every mommy struggles with this issue. And I remember a certain teen who in all seriousness, after I told her that I wanted to help her not to make mistakes, told me that she wanted to make mistakes because she wanted to learn in her own way. Sigh! That certain teen turned out to be a beautiful woman of God and is doing a great job with her parenting, learning and growing and being stretched.

  2. I can totally hear one of my dear children saying that very thing someday. Sigh. I need to be prepared and not fear it when I hear it.

  3. No, you're not alone, Christy! I don't fear my kids making mistakes as much as I fear what others could do TO them. That's where I struggle. Overnight camp, no way - at least not for us right now. We don't even do sleepovers. But I hear you about loosening the reins here and there, we have to or they will be handicapped later in life. Always with wisdom and much prayer. I would always recommend the mission field for anyone wanting to get over having to let go in ANY area. Ha.... as my kids remote control hopped through cable channels recently in a hotel room... two years ago I would have never let them have that freedom. But, like you, I realize that I can not overprotect them and I MUST give them freedom to sample the world, see it, be exposed to it, and make their own decisions about it. I pray they make the right ones, and try to remember to be talking to them about it. James Dobson encourages parents to give them that freedom WHILE THEY ARE STILL AT HOME under your care and guidance. All that to say, I hear you. You're not alone, we feel this too! Chris :)

  4. I agree. It is more so the second issue rather than the first. But I also don't want them to grow up in a culture of fear. It's hard. Certain things will never be on the radar, that's for sure. Even the mother bird hangs around her young while he learns to be on his own, watching to make sure he's safe.

  5. I'm with you, Christy! It's hard. We haven't been approached with any opportunity for our kids to go somewhere without us. I go about my life and daily routine and sometimes it just hits me how very "secluded" we are. Our kids are with us ALL the time, except when they're playing with other kids at our fellowship. They don't even go to the children's classes at the church we attend. We're the ONLY family in the whole church who sits together thru the entire service. You know what that's like :) We often have talks about this...should we let them go or should we keep them? I wonder if it's because we as homeschooling parents are more used to controlling our childrens' environment whereas everyone else's kids are out from under their parents' "eye" most of the time. So those parents are used to it. And we are used to having this protective watch over our children 24 hours a day. These are things we all grapple with and need lots of wisdom to make decisions that are best for our children. I commend you for letting go a little bit. Someday I will get there :)

  6. I agree about it being harder for homeschoolers. Other parents have to get over it when they are forced to put their kindergartener on that bus. Which reminds me, have you seen the movie "IndoctriNation"? I tell you what, if you watch that movie you won't want to let your kids out of your sight for a second! But we have to be so careful that we still aren't letting fear control us.

    You know how we were about Sunday school. We only just started letting the kids go at our new church these past couple of years and very reluctantly at that, but we have had some very interesting experiences come out of it. One week Naomi came home all upset because she discovered that the other kids in her class said that their parents don't read the bible to them at home (and after teaching the class ourselves, sadly we can tell that is true). She was so distraught that she wanted to start a bible study for her friends. Another time Grace came home and told us her teacher said something that she knew was wrong and wanted help organizing her thoughts so she could go back the next week and show the teacher why what she had said wasn't true. (It wasn't a doctrinal issue but still a pretty basic biblical truth). It's sad and sort of pathetic that this had to be encountered at church, but in our case it has been good growing experiences for our kids and if anything has made them want to study the bible more.

    I have to figure that we do have them for 98% of the time, filling their minds with truth. I think I should be able to manage to let go for at least 2% of the time. :) Our kids are older than yours anyway. God will give you wisdom in His time.

  7. Thanks for sharing and sparking discussion on this topic. This issue is so difficult and challenging. My biggest concern and focus over the past year has been more to stay connected to her to make sure she feels safe in her environment. Of course, I needed to feel safe about it in order to leave her there, but we have just always tried to clearly communicate with her that if she doesn't feel safe for any reason whatsoever, that she should come find us immediately. Then of course, following up with her after each outing (time away from us) to give her an opportunity to share freely and honestly about how that experience was for her. All that do say, it hasn't been easy, but it's so good to see her strong enough to continue to be her own person - not really caring what others think of her. Overnight camp? Yeah, not sure we are ready for that one, but maybe we'll have to consider it more seriously this summer. But yes, so important that they face all kinds of challenges when they are still in a "safe and nurturing" environment where we can be there to help them grow than to keep them in a bubble and make them dis-functional as adults. Keep seeking guidance from our amazing God and I know you'll find your way through all the challenges. By the way, you have wonderful, kind, caring, honest, well-behaved and friendly children!!!!!

  8. Hey Christy,
    I think about this stuff a lot too and our children aren't as old as yours even... I am glad to know I'm not the only one who struggles with what to allow them to do or not do, what to be involved with or not... etc., etc.
    Also, I was browsing on your blog and saw your 9 reasons for leaving Facebook...Bravo! Mike and I quit FB over a year ago and don't miss it for many of the reasons you listed.
    Last... I saw your post on Homeschooling for Wimps... Are you still enjoying using the Ambleside Online and Classical Conversations? I have enjoyed homeschooling Ben so much this year and cannot believe how much he is learning. I am starting to think about the fall, though, and would enjoy any recommendations for curriculum.
    Hope you are all doing well!


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