How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!
When I was a young Mom, I struggled a lot. My mind raced with every scenario that left my baby lifeless, brutally hurt, or forever scarred emotionally. I soaked up all of the parenting books, battling which might be right, which wrong. I wanted to do it “right”. I didn’t want my children hurt.
When they were babies, I’d wake up too frequently to check if they were still breathing as they slumbered in their bed. As they grew into toddlers, suddenly furniture was my enemy. Sharp edges. Glass surfaces. Plug-ins and electronics. There is danger everywhere. My heart raced. I lost sleep. Now several of them are pre-teen/teen’s, and dangers are exponentially growing. The motorcycle. The rope swings, swimming, video games, and – gasp – soon driving. Now there’s hormonal changes and pre independence and … oh man… We’re not ready for this!
But there’s a balance to be had here… surely… And yet… It is not our job to be flexible.
It is our job to protect our children. There are many dangers out there that we need not be ignorant of. Because of this, we set boundaries for our children that are age- and maturity-appropriate. For example, we limit the people our kids leave our house for sleepovers with or have alone time with. We happily welcome friends to co-mingle in a family setting. We limit their interaction with bad influences of all varieties until they are “of age,” and also take responsibility for their intake of good, be it spiritual, educational, chemical, etc… And will assist in their learning how to make wise decisions as they grow. Ultimately, we’d rather risk offending someone than risk our child’s safety or well-being.
But something has changed in us as parents.
We no longer keep those boundaries based on fear or control.
We do still believe that as parents we are responsible for guiding our children to the best of our ability in most areas, bit by bit letting them “fly the coop,” so to speak. We want to instill good decision making skills based on a firm foundation. We do still cling tight to our family being the go-to for them as they do so. Home is their base, Lord willing. Yet we still catch ourselves from time to time. As politics sway, there were added fears for society, the culture, it’s future, and the surroundings of their lives in various times and trials. Even still I find myself trying to guard them at times. I am constantly reminding myself that sheltering is not guarding or biblical, but praying is.
I have the power to love them, to train them, and to be sometimes uncomfortably open with them about life to the best of my ability. But as parents, we cannot accept the power to raise them in the most important aspects of their bigger-picture life; their ultimate choices. Instead, we are to exercise our faith and rely on a God who holds us in His hands. All the time. I cling to verses like: “Be anxious for nothing.” (Phil. 4:6-7) So instead I choose to think on things that are true, that are good, admirable. I can’t help but count my blessings! I’m thankful for the many opportunities I have to talk even more to my children about truth: love, grace, forgiveness, and Christ. Truth.
If I could get you to read this article instead of this blog, I would. It nicely sums up why sheltering can inadvertently be self-righteous, judgmental attitudes, based out of fear or the need for control, unbiblical expectations, selfishness, and is often not God-honoring. A quote from the article:
“The irony is that we will never feel more righteous than when we are arrogantly indulging in this criticism of others, committing a sin that God hates.” – Jost
This is why we chose to live openly, transparently, and commune-ly together as a family with others honestly. Raising a family takes a village. And we have an amazing village. We strongly believe in protecting our children, but the armor needed isn’t always what one would assume.
From Lisa Joy Jost: “Such a privilege to be a parent, but the genuine-ness of our walk with God will influence our children far more deeply than any religious pattern we seek to instill in them.”
My girlfriend Audrey shared how parents should not lose sleep over worrying about their childrens’ future. It was a huge blessing to hear this, and – for me – to apply it to other areas I was worrying about. A reminder that we do not control outcomes – but can be active participants of the on-going. Encouraging & supporting others and lifting each other in prayer. And ultimately, giving it all to God instead of trying to take ownership of, well, anything.