There is sometimes a fine line between protective parenting and fear-based parenting. The goal is generally the same…to keep our children safe. But not all experiences—yes, even the negative ones—must be avoided. There is a time for hard lessons to be learned, feelings to be hurt, lies to be exposed and dangers to be felt.
Why is this important? Because too often in our attempt to parent based on fear, we keep our children from experiencing difficulties that may one day come at them anyway or to a greater degree than anticipated. They do grow up. They turn into teenagers with their own opinions and beliefs. And then they turn into independent adults.
If we make every single decision for them, how will they ever learn to problem solve?
If we choose all their friends for them, how will they ever learn to recognize a true one?
If we make sure they never lack, how will they ever learn to want?
If we control all of their surroundings, how will they learn to adapt?
Parenting that’s based on protection has their best interests at heart…yet knows it will include some bumps in the road. Parenting that’s based on fear has their best interests at heart…yet fights, manipulates, and controls to avoid those bumps in the road. But bumps make up our journey in life. They will always be there and try as we might to avoid them, eventually we’ll hit one. Will our children know what to do?
Having two adult children and one just a couple years from that, I can look back and see how some of my parenting was based on protection and some on fear. The truth is that in their earlier years, it was mostly based on fear. I wanted to control every aspect of their lives. In some cases that did more harm than good. Some of those things we can laugh about today. But for other situations, it resulted in unnecessary struggles.
When I shifted to protective parenting, it didn’t mean there weren’t challenges. Yet every single one has turned around and resulted in something beautiful. Whether it was an awakening in a child’s spirit, wisdom gained or growth as a person…each bump they were able to get over and keep on moving forward.
There is no right or wrong way to parent. There is no magical formula or method. There is no book or “expert” who can provide the answers. The only thing I am sure of is that there’s more damage done in parenting out of fear. It’s not easy to see our children struggle…to make mistakes…to choose the wrong path…to do things the hard way. But these bumps don’t determine their final destination. So put your trust in God and allow Him to lead their way.
© 2015, Stephanie Romero