Protecting our precious children is a part of the job description as parents. We do our best to keep them alive as long as we can, teach them what we can, and release them when we can. We take our caretaker roles to new heights when we feel a threat approaching and become part ninja, part central intelligence, part mama bear. Our kiddos can just about feel the shift in the atmosphere when we become the extreme protector. Whether it be the threat of potential real danger or just perceived danger.
While being protective is necessary, our scale of actual threat must be measured in healthy ways. Unfortunately, there has been a misinterpretation somewhere along the way for many parent-child situations that have created young adults who are not equipped to deal with consequences. This has made for a difficult and nearly impossible circumstance of having to raise “adults” all over again in a professional environment. So where are we dropping the ball as parents? Have we loved them too much? Have we protected them too much? Have we given them too much?
We have been commissioned as parents, to “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). How we have defined this in our personal parenting journeys sets a standard for how we are carrying out that commission. Training up a child, is not as simple as teaching them how to read a book, tie a shoe, or take the trash out. We must train them to have self-control, be responsible and accountable, handle disappointment in a healthy way, fail and try again, and champion others. Many times, our mama bear can hinder our training and eliminates the confidence we are trying to instill. Attempting to protect them from unrealistic threats like disappointment, responsibility, consequences, failures, friction, and upset, actually strips our children of the vital learning opportunities that come with all of these aspects of life and gives them a false sense of a pillowed existence. They become adults who are foreign to the concept of opposition and very familiar with entitlement.
A mother bird can only teach her baby bird to fly if she allows it to jump out of the nest without her assistance. She’s not waiting on the ground with pillows just in case the baby bird doesn’t fly. She trains her baby bird by allowing it to experience the fall and the victory of the flight. Protecting it, in a different way, from the idea that she will always be there to catch it and that there is no impact associated with the fall. If we protect our beloved children from all consequence and failure, we do them a great disservice in preparing them for adulthood. As the mother bird, watching them as they jump attempting to fly, without pillowing the fall comes with the long- term gratification of a prepared independent adult instead of the short-term gratification of a “happy” kiddo.
So how do we serve our children best in this area?
Here are a few tips for training our children to “deal”:
- Allow them to reap the consequences of a missed responsibility.
- Be consistent in discipline
- When they fail, encourage them to try again, not to give up.
- Allow them to try things that may scare you a little so that they can experience trial and error.
- Teach them how to control their emotions with slowed thinking and calming exercises
- Keep your authoritative role clear. You are the mom.
- Allow them to do what they can. (ie. Chores, meals, cleaning, etc.)
- And most of all, PRAY for the strength you will need to take your hands off and the heart of your child
Teaching our children the realities of consequence, responsibilities, and disappointment, empowers them to make decisions, be confident in their own abilities, and inspires them to work hard. Mama bear, protect your cub not only from physical danger but also from the danger of a skewed perception of reality. They will thank you.
J.E. Berry is a speaker and the author of The Truth About Happiness: Exchanging the falsehood of happiness for Christ’s lasting joy. She is a wife and mother of five children. J.E. has a heart for outreach and seeing people come to know freedom through a relationship with Christ Jesus, specifically women who have yet to see their God given destiny because of lingering bondage. As an author and speaker, she explores things that hinder us from moving forward in our walk with Christ. Such as people pleasing, unhappiness, un-forgiveness and much more, to try and lend a hand in unveiling the culprits so that we can move forward in victory. She carries this same passion into each area of ministry she is active in.
The Life of a Single Mom is a global nonprofit committed to seeing no single mom walk alone. Having served more than 50,000 single mothers each year, the goal of the organization is establish support groups for single mothers in communities around the world. To date, we have worked with more than 1,500 churches & community groups to start or improve a single mom’s group. Our programs focus on empowering single moms to grow spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, and parentally. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.