the proclamation was made that they were not going to be overprotective parents. Applying my view of overprotective, not allowing a child to be adventurous out of fear they will get hurt or coddling a child over every little bump or scrap, I was in agreement with these parents.
Yet, after getting to know this family more, it became apparent,
their idea of overprotective really meant under supervised. What these parents wanted was: their lives not to change because of this new addition, now a toddler.
I remember having this philosophy at first too. As a couple we
didn’t think having a baby meant we had to adjust our lives—the baby could just flex into our routine. It only took a couple of months to realize that “my” routine made for a very cranky baby. If God allowed us to be parents, perhaps the role of parent should look different than our pre-parent life.
Thankfully, God opened our eyes to the changes needed early in
our parenting, yet, the above mentioned family was still seeking “their” own fulfillments with a two year old. What this looked like was a boy who thought he could make all his own decisions.
As mom did yoga, Jr. created havoc in his bedroom, the living room and in the bathroom. As mom talked on the phone planning a get together with the ladies, Jr. pulled bark off the tree and made tulip soup. As mom primped with her make-up and tried on several outfits, Jr. raided the snack drawer while spreading crumbs throughout the house.
When Dad arrived home, his lovely bride greeted him at the door
baring tales of how little Jr. was a terror that day. She couldn’t wait to go out with her friends and get refreshed. Oh yes, Prince Charming and Jr. would need to have peanut butter and jelly for supper because Overworked Mama just couldn’t get to making supper with Jr. acting up all day.
Not being overprotective, does not give us liberty to under supervise. God has called us to be attentive to all our child’s needs, namely training them in the way they should go.
While at times we may be uncomfortable with our child climbing a
pile of rocks, we may still allow them to climb being aware they could pinch a finger or scrap a knee. This is extremely different than sending our toddler out to the backyard to do as they please for hours at a time. In order to train our children effectively we must be ever aware of what they are doing and how they are acting.
When we first started having children we lived in an apartment.
This close quarters living, made being attentive to my children easy. Anywhere in the apartment was within ear shot. Although we purposed to do life side by side, including the children as we cleaned, cooked and did laundry, there were still times they would be off in the other room. Although they were out of sight, I still kept a keen ear to their doings.
I am not promoting being overprotective, nor am I at all keen on
parents using not being overprotective as an excuse to pursue their own selfish ambitions. Freedom for the child does not equal parents being unaware of what they are doing. With freedom comes greater responsibility. So until a child is showing great responsibility, they are not ready for great freedom. Toddlers in
general are not ready for freedom at all. The excuse of not being overprotective-- cannot be used to under parent.
Proverbs 6:1 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he
is old he will not turn from it.”
The freedom of not turning from his training comes when he is old, after he has been trained when he is young. We must not get the cart before the horse. Be attentive, listen, train and when children become responsible then give freedoms as they show ability to handle them.