Should Christians shelter their kids from the world — or give them freedom?
As parents who love our children and want the best for them, we do all that we can to protect our children. However, sometimes in our attempt to shield them from the evil of this world, we stifle their freedom. As a result, our children get stuck in a bubble of dependency and safety.
The world is full of terrible things—sin, immorality, accidents, germs, and so on. How far can parents go in terms of sheltering their kids from the evils of this world without choking their free will?
As far as protecting our children goes, it has always been a balancing act among three choices—doing our part, allowing them to do theirs, and allowing God to do His. Here are three ways to protect our kids without being overprotective.
1. Trust God
Here's a great scripture for overprotective parents: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5)
Yes, it's our job to protect our children, but a parent is not a child's number one protector. God is.
If we can't trust the world, our kids or even our own selves to shield our children from harm, we sure can trust God. He loves our kids more than we ever will and wants what's best for them in ways we could never even imagine.
2. Allow them to fail
Shielding our children from the pains of this world also means allowing them to experience failure every so often and guiding them through the experience. John Maxwell in his book "Failing Forward" says this: "Embrace adversity and make failure a regular part of your life. If you're not failing, you're probably not really moving forward."
The same is true for our children. We must allow them to make failure a regular part of their lives if we truly want them to move forward. Our failure and that of our children are not the end. They are just the beginning of a whole new learning process.
3. Make them love boundaries
In Psalm 119:16 the poet says, "I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word."
When we teach our children God's rules and even our rules, do we teach them to fear or love it? Rules are an extension of love, but it can at many times feel like an extension of hate and remorse.
Make sure that as you teach your children boundaries they will come to appreciate them and understand that it's for their good. Allow your children to love boundaries and the protection they bring. Don't just let them fear the punishment for not meeting their standard.