Years ago I attended a conference by a man who traveled all over the nation claiming to teach about fearless parenting.
He didn’t use the word fearless. He used a synonym, one that means dauntless, valiant, audacious.
He proposed some radical means of parenting “fearlessly,” which mostly amounted to cloistering your children from any bad influences and hiding from the culture at large, setting lots of extreme rules and controlling your children’s every move.
Furthermore, he had an extensive list of plans and rules for his children’s future spouses, such as that they must live in close proximity to his family and have a habit of eating healthy foods.
The funny thing is that it’s hard to parent this way unless you are very scared. Scared of society, scared of bad influences, scared of other Christians, scared of your kids and even yourself and your ability to disciple them in a hostile culture.
So this parenting method is not audacious at all.
I believe that it’s a reactionary method rooted in fear and disbelief.
Dauntless, valiant, audacious parents trust God.
They practice wisdom and protect their children from evil with the knowledge that our world is broken and bad things are going to happen—but God is able to either protect us from them or help us through them.
They let their children wrestle through questions and struggles to come out the other side stronger.
They are OK with making mistakes as parents, because they understand that we are dust and that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness and he can fill the gaps we lack.
They expect their children to fail, as fellow sinners, and they do not hold them to higher standards of perfect obedience than they hold themselves.
Parents should use wisdom. A certain amount of sheltering is appropriate, I believe. Each family and each child is different and we want to be wise about what we expose them to and when. There are no rules for this.
But what a fallacy to believe that we can protect them from everything forever!
I’ve heard it said that if your children are never aware of sin and perversion, then when they’re confronted by it, they’ll recognize it immediately and be repulsed. This isn’t true.
Even as we shield our children from the worst of the world when they are small, we also have to realize that in an increasingly decadent culture, the worst of the world will quickly find them. We should act sooner rather than later.
It’s our job to proactively help them recognize evil, how to think wisely about it, and how to protect themselves from it. If you’ve waited until your children are teens, I guarantee that the world has beaten you to it. We worry that if our children know about darkness, that we are somehow throwing them to the wolves. But I believe that by not walking and talking with them through it, we are leaving them open and vulnerable to a very loud, aggressive society. That’s truly throwing your children to the wolves.
We don’t want to talk to our kids about the tough stuff in a way that dumps too much sordid detail on them. Not in a way that tries to scare them silly. Not in a superstitious way. But with wisdom, grace, and common sense—all the while, trusting God through it.
This is fearless parenting.
A little disclaimer: I’ve lived most aspects of this post at one time or another, but I also haven’t finished raising my kids. I’m finding my way too, and I’m sure I’ll make mistakes. But these are my thoughts as they stand right now.
What about you? Are you tempted to over-shelter or avoid talking to your children about sensitive, hard topics? How to you talk to your children about these things?
This post of part of 31 Days of Fearless Mothering
Look for my eBook, Fearless Mothering, in November!