Every child needs protection….but many parents let their own insecurities take this element of parenting to the extreme. The mere notion that a child must be shielded from all pain is neither practical nor realistic.
Moms tend to be more over-protecting than dads as a rule, but I have seen both. The situation is often more acute with the first-born or an only child. This is another area where Moms and Dads can help each other reach a healthy balance by working together.
Around 2nd grade, teachers began sending small amounts of homework home with each of our children in order to start forming good study habits. We were careful to convey to our kids the importance of doing their homework, but we did not nag them. There came a point with each child when they procrastinated and forgot to do their homework the night before, and all-out fear and panic ambushed them just as they were about to walk out our front door the next morning. The fear and panic quickly led to pleas, something like, “Mom, you have to call my school and tell them that I am sick today!” We calmly, but categorically refused to go this route, explaining the moral reasons why this would be wrong. Each child only had to go through this lesson their first and only time.
Many parents would be inclined to run cover for their children on the first occurrence of such a situation. However, the lesson is usually learned more quickly and deeply on the first occurrence and we encourage parents to hold firm.
There were ample other occasions where one of our children inadvertently left home without a completed assignment or project in their backpack, and called home for help because it had to be turned in that very day. We were always quick to come to the rescue in these instances because simple human-error was involved rather than an incorrect attitude or perspective. Who among us as adults have not left home at some time without an item that we have forgotten?
A number of years ago, we moved into a new home. The home was at the edge of a large undeveloped open-space at nearly the end of our street. We had been in the new home for only about a month when one Sunday afternoon, I just happened to see one of the kids juggling their soccer ball on the front street. There was nothing unusual at first about this (all of our kids played soccer), but then I realized that they were kicking the ball higher and higher, to see how close they could come to the overhead street light without hitting it. The child in question was about 10 years old at the time, old enough to know better.
Before I could get out the door, the child stopped kicking their soccer ball and headed into the house. I intercepted them at the front door. I explained to them what I had seen as they listened intently, and then my next words were received with stark amazement. I told the child that if they had damaged the city’s street light that I would have reported them to the authorities and that they would have had to bear the consequences. The “protections” that we provide as parents must be morally right.
The age of accountability in the Bible is 12 and 13 for girls and boys, respectively. With the invention of the word “teenager” in a Reader’s Digest article in cica-1950, however, our society has created a whole new class of people called teenagers. What is rather remarkable about this class is that they have the cognitive abilities of a grown adult without any of the responsibilities; a dangerous combination!
The teenage years are a trap for many parents because they mistakenly delayed important moral and character-building lessons thinking that their kids would learn these things in their teens. The fact of the matter is that our kids need to know all of the basic rules for life well before they get to the teenage years.
Take every opportunity to teach your children the morals of a godly life early.