BY LEANN DILBECK –
Parents of children can probably relate to wanting to wrap your toddler in bubble wrap and let them go, right? I mean, theoretically, we understand that they will never develop important motor skills if they are not allowed to roam and explore… but why does that have to come at the cost of bruised knees and skinned noses? If they just had little air filled bubbles to lessen the hurt from the fall, right?
I remember my mother being criticized of being “over-protective,” but as a child I never really recognized it because she maintained that fine balance, like a tightrope, that I didn’t realize I was being parented most of the time.
As a parent, it’s completely instinctive to shield and protect, much like a momma lion. The world, as we know all too well as adults, is a very hard and cruel place so how do you equip a child to deal with the harsh reality of it all and not expose them to too much at too young of an age? The best way is not avoid society and its perverse messages entirely but rather find the balance that teaches them God’s view of society’s messages.
As Michael and Diane Medved wrote in their book Saving Childhood,
“The very idea of parental protectiveness has been overwhelmed by relentless pressure from a society that seems determined to expose its young to every perversion and peril in an effort to ‘prepare’ them for a harsh, dangerous future.”
I admit, I’ve taken a very conservative stance in raising my children. I’m not apologetic of protecting them from certain movies, shows, video games, or even other children, because I feel convicted to protect their innocence as long as possible IN ORDER to equip them to deal with it when they are more mature.
There is no greater blessing from God than the life of a child. As their parent, we are entrusted to raise them in His truths and yes, to protect and shield them. We have but only a short time to make life-long impressions on them and I believe it is our responsibility to fill them as full of His love and Words as humanly possibly so that His views are instinctive when they are thrown into the jungle full of predators – they can shine bright in a dark and very cruel world that seeks to drive them down and disparage their self-worth, dignity, and spirit.
A flood of information is dumped onto our children way too soon. The media’s assault on our kids’ innocence has become increasingly explicit and intrusive. From TV to movies, from music to the Internet, popular culture saturates kids’ lives. The messages are sometimes blatant (such as the celebration of premarital sex) and sometimes subtle (such as disrespect for parents and other authorities). And what kids don’t get from the media, they hear at school, often in explicit sex-education courses. I remember when MTV came out and “all the other kids had it,” as I told my Mom. She didn’t give me a hell-fire and condemnation speech about the devil’s music – she just said it wasn’t available in our package… and you know what? I never questioned it anymore. Barriers work better as guardrails that allow us to peer over to the other side, rather than 20 ft. brick walls. Once I saw some of the videos, I wasn’t near as interested in having it.
I see 10-year old girls dressed in ways that make them appear 16 and parents who justify it by saying you can’t stop them from growing up. No, you can’t, but you certainly don’t have to rush it. They are not mature enough to appreciate their innocence but as parents we should not only treasure it but fight fiercely to protect and preserve it before introducing them to a lifetime of trying to regain what was lost at too tender of an age.
Yes, our children are kept very close. And gratefully, they desire to be so. We have guarded all that we could on TV, Internet, music, friends…not just to protect but also to establish and model a healthy, God-centered lifestyle that becomes their “normal.” Our hope is that this approach will establish a strong foundation for them to stand on as they make moral choices. The reality of the world will seep in eventually but, to us, it’s much better for a child to learn about other worldviews and lifestyles while still under close parental supervision, while we can cue them on how to respond.
A conservative childhood certainly doesn’t ensure that there won’t be problems. Problems are a guarantee much like those bruised knees and skinned noses they got as toddlers. The greatest gift we can give a child is a love for God… to have His words inscribed on their hearts… knowing His truth is the best way to equip them for the jungle ahead of them.
Trade in the bubble wrap for God’s truths and plenty of prayer… it’s far more reliable!
All for His glory –