Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Protective Parenting?

Sometimes we've been misunderstood in our parenting.  Criticised, even, by people who don't quite see where we are coming from.  

Because we've never been the type to hover over our children while they are on climbing frames.  When they have wanted to leap over a stream, and we can see they probably won't make it, we've never stopped them.  (I think our washing machine might wish we had).  When it was time to learn to cross roads, we taught them to do it themselves rather than keeping a tight hold of their hands.  When the tree has been swaying because they are sitting in the topmost branches, we have cheered them on in their climbing accomplishments. 

And when God tells us to take them on a plane and visit a country totally alien to them, we share it with them and they jump into it with the gusto they use to jump the streams.

India's not a normal holiday destination, that's for sure.  There was no way we could shield them from the pleading eyes of the ragged girl tapping on the car window, begging for money.  We couldn't ask them to look the other direction when we passed the strips of material on the side of the road that served as family homes.  We couldn't put ear plugs in their ears when we listened to the stories of young girls who had been sexually exploited and trafficked.  There was no way we could leave them behind when we climbed onto the crowded bus full of street children and spent the day washing them, feeding them and helping them learn.  Our boys were there and together our hearts were broken several times over.

We couldn't protect them from the horrors and injustices of the world.  

Do I regret it?  Was it a mistake to expose them to such heart-ripping sadness?

Oh no.  Rather than wounding them, their hearts have grown immeasurably.  They have seen and heard so much more than so many of their friends at school and their compassion comes from a knowing.  They talk from experience now and when they pray for other nations, they pray with a maturity that surprises me.  When we talk about giving to others, they are generous with their time, money and possessions.  This Christmas, when the extravagant worship of money and consumerism threatens to take over, they have spent each day thinking of others and choosing ways to give.  And we are in this together.  

Our family adventure is a shared one.  And I love sharing this gift with them because I know, without a doubt, that it will better for them than if we had tried to keep them closeted.  Ultimately, we can't protect them but we trust them into the hands of our God and we know that whatever He asks of us as a family, they are fully protected there.

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