Of course we need to protect our kids, but Dr. Kelly Flanagan shows us the main thing we need to protect our kids from is ourselves!  In a recent article he asks,

“What if the thing we really need to protect our children from is our own protectiveness?”

As a youth pastor, I often have a front row seat to well-meaning parents going to the extremes to make sure their kids are “ok”.  I understand every situation is different and perceptions can be misleading, but if we are not careful our protective instincts can actually hinder our child’s growth.

Our goal as parents, simply put, is to prepare our kids for adulthood.  Sometimes that means that we have to withhold our protective instincts for the sake of their growth as a person.  If you look around and pay attention to what’s being written, you will notice we might have a problem.  This is highlighted by a quick Google search of “college students and parents” –

“How Helicopter Parents are Ruining College Students” – Washington Post

“Snowplow Parents Overly Involved in College Student Lives” – Boston Globe

“College Students and Their Helicopter Parents:  A Recipe for Stress” – Huffington Post

These articles were sandwiched in between articles written by universities offering “Tips to Parents” to help them let go.  Essentially, these articles are begging parents to let their kids be responsible for their own life, grades, time, etc.  In other words, let them be adults, make mistakes, take responsibility…grow!

It Will Not Produce the Results You Desire

As parents we need to protect our young kids from the danger of an ill-advised jump off the coffee table.  As they grow older though, there are some things that we can’t protect them from and that’s where we get into trouble.  Providing physical safety as a parent is necessary.  The instinct to want to protect our kids is as natural as waking up.  However, there comes a point where we have to fight this instinct.  Dr. Flanagan writes,

“We’ve got their physical safety on lockdown.

So what do we do next with our protective instinct?

We try to perfect our children because, deep down, we believe perfection is protection…If we are flawless, we leave no chinks in the armor. The more perfect we are, the more likely we are to come out on top in the game of social comparison. If our kids are perfect, we hope it will protect them from peer rejection, poor self-esteem, disappointments in life, and the pain of being human.”

We know the realities of this world.  We know what is out there waiting for them.  But as a follower of Jesus, I also trust the words found in the book of Philippians.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Part of that completion is the journey through successes, failures, pain, joy, bad decisions, and making the right, hard decisions.  Here’s what I know for sure:  my protection cannot produce the results I ultimately desire.  At some point, I have to trust the Author of this life, my child’s life, to do his work.  During that time, I have to fight my instincts.


To read Dr. Flanagan’s full article click here (the last section might be worth printing out and putting on your fridge!):  Why We Need to Protect Our Kids From Us