Sometimes I get to thinking that we can be over protective of our children. Whether it is about stopping them from getting hurt or not allowing them to choose for themselves. There are many ways in which we feel we must protect their innocent life.
This over protectiveness, while may have good intentions, can actually cause more harm than good. One example of this over protection comes in the form of parents demanding that their child not be held accountable to their choices. For example when parents support the idea of not giving children zeros for work not done in school or passing kids up to the next grade while failing their current level of knowledge and education we protect them from the consequences of their actions and choices. The problem with this is that they will not learn in the long-term through their life and when they have to face real problems and issues they will not know how to handle it because we did not allow them to face the consequences of their choices before hand.
The Hamilton spectator recently published an article which explains this quite well
“By “protecting” their child from deadlines, consequences, setbacks and discipline, these parents create a two-tiered system of education.
“In this way, overprotective parents harm the progress of all students, even those whose parents wish for them to have a rigorous, challenging education. Ironically, overprotective parents also do their own children considerable harm.
Having been sheltered from all adversity, they are often unable to overcome the obstacles they inevitably face in post-secondary school or in their careers. These parents seem unable to understand that teachers seldom fail or penalize students to be punitive, but rather to teach them valuable lessons they will need in their lives.”
As parents we can be over protective in other ways as well. For example if we step in and resolve our children’s problems every single time, they cannot learn to solve problems of their own accord. What will happen is they will not have the skills to fix their own issues and will become over dependent on their parents for everything. This can lead to stress and strain for everyone involved and most especially on the parents.
When our children are having problems I find it is helpful to ask them “ok, what do you think you should do about it” In this way we can teach them to be more independent and gain problems solving skills on their own.
The Family a proclamation to the world tells us
“Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.”
Because of this we have to step back and allow natural consequences come to our children. This is not to say that we should abandon them and leave them to their own devices but give them opportunity to grow by stepping to the side and letting them figure things out on their own.
Part of providing for their physical needs is helping them learn that there are consequences to bad choices. Children will play and get hurt. It is part of life. We cannot wrap them up in bubble wrap to protect them from all harm. It is through our pain and suffering that we grow spiritually, physically, mentally and in every other way.
Larry Richman once said
“Trials give us opportunities to show the Lord and ourselves that we will be faithful. We can choose to feel sorry for ourselves and ask, “Why me?” or we can grow from our trials, increase our faith in the Lord, and ask, “How can I be faithful in the midst of this trial?” We can let adversity break us down and make us bitter, or we can let it refine us and make us stronger. We can allow adversity to lead us to drift away from the things that matter most, or we can use it as a stepping-stone to grow closer to things of eternal worth.
Spiritual growth can often be achieved more readily by trials and adversity than by comfort and tranquility. Trials can teach us that faith in God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ is the source of inner strength. President David O. McKay (1873-1970) recounted the testimony of one of the survivors of the ill-fated Martin handcart company, who said: “We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but … [we] came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with Him in our extremities.”
If we shield our children from harm and consequences that naturally follow their choices then we also shield them from any type of growth in spirit or otherwise. This is not what God intended. We have a responsibility to ensure that children grow in the gospel. If we fail in this then we fail in our duties and if we fail in these duties then we “will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.”
And that is the Gospel According To Andrew