Monday, December 7, 2009

Protective Parenting...a problem?

I came across this great lit list of 7 fascinating books about our parenting culture. I haven't read any yet so I cannot give a review (I will soon) but I wanted to make some umbrella points that the post seemed to hint at. And, of course, encourage you all to glance at the list and summaries.

The overwhelming feeling seems to be that parents need to relax. The books range in emotion from one that acknowledges and explains our culture of fear to another that says we are downright crippling our children with these methods of protection. Will a room-temperature baby wipe really injure a child? Children need to be exposed to mild discomforts so that as they grow older they can take on more challenging ones. Almost all the books seem to assert that we are doing a disservice to our children by catering to them this much and for this long.

I have always been of the mindset that you cannot spoil a child with too much love, it's an impossibility, but how do we draw the line between love and love's gestures? Certainly we want to buy pre-warmed wipes because we love our children and we want them to be comfortable and happy but how do you distinguish between productive and unproductive acts of love? I'm curious what your thoughts are on this topic and how you parents out there view the current "protective" parenting culture. Comment away!

1 comment:

  1. Certainly love itself is something we can never give too much of to our children--or anyone else. I am a Christian, so I believe that God calls me to love every human being unconditionally, as He loves me, and this includes my children.

    Of course, each relationship has its proper boundaries of how that love is expressed. For example, I owe my parents a form of respect that I do not need to afford the teens I work with. I express love for my husband in ways that would be inappropriate in any other relatinship. God gives me boundaries and guidelines for expressing love to my children, as well.

    I am called to care for them, nurture them, teach them and--yes--protect them, but primarily, I am instructed to guide them into a lasting relationship with God who is Love itself. And, how does God express His love for us? He cares for our needs, He protects us, He disciplines us--something that a lot of "protective parents" don't like to deal with--and His Love is a GIFT! It's not something we are entitled to, and this, I think is key.

    Every child SHOULD have the gift of a parent's love, but the thing we seem to lose track of in our modern culture is that that love IS a gift and a choice--not an obligation but a sacred duty, not a child's right but every child's need. In fact, it is exactly that CHOICE, that GIFT that gives the love its value. If the love was unavoidable, then it would have no power.

    When a child truly feels the impact of a parent's CHOICE to sacrificially love him or her, that love is no longer taken for granted. When expressions of that love fall short--because of a parent's human shortcomings or because of circumstances (not enough money for a diaper wipes warmer, for example)--the child may be sad, but he or she learns to cope, and this is vital for matuartion.

    In my own faith, it is also an important lesson for the child that God's love is even bigger, never failing. He won't give us everything we WANT, but He will always provide everything we NEED. That is true love. Sacrificially meeting the needs of another. In the case of the child, sometimes those needs are the exact opposite of the child's desires. As a parent, the truly loving thing to do is to deny those wants because we are called to meet the child's true needs--in love.