Pop the bubble
Balance in parenting is tricky – especially when we look at the idea of protection. We all desire to protect our kids from harm, hurt and trauma. But it is easy to accidentally protect them from reality in the process.
If one long-game goal in parenting is for my kids to love others and love their neighbor then I have to be willing to give them experiences with their neighbor, and not just the neighbors I am most comfortable with. I desire my kids to look at a successful businessman, an elderly women, an immigrant, a homeless man, a Muslim friend, and themselves in the mirror in the same regard – broken, yet a loved and created child of God. Our protection of our children limits the availability of experiences that provide level ground for them to see themselves as equal with others. The fear we experience as parents in desiring to protect translates to our children that “they” are not safe. “They” becomes anyone who does not fit into the mold of their experiences.
I live in a small town that is predominately white, which means one thing. It is my responsibility as a parent to find opportunities for my children to naturally experience people who are different than our Jackson six. And not just experiences in forms of volunteer projects that create a savior mentality, but experiences that place us side by side. I need to model by inviting people to my table who look different, believe different, and act different. That takes intention, it takes work – it will not happen on its own.
One definition of protection is “to aim to preserve,” and if my goal is protection of just my child’s safety then yes, don’t expose them to the world around them. Keep them at home and in a bubble because if they are exposed to others there will certainly be heartache and refinement. They will also experience joy and beauty.
If I can maintain a gospel focused mentality with eternity in mind, then my protection is for hearts, my child’s included. The protection of hearts requires that my child not be protected from others, but be exposed to the beauty of diversity that enriches us so deeply, keeping their heart soft.
So yes, protect your children. But protection should include a broken bubble that allows reality to be experienced within our homes, not protection to keep reality out.