child-proofing and real life

I’ve been thinking lately about our culture’s attempts at child-proofing life for our kids — how our parental instincts sometimes lead us astray in helping our children navigate the real world.

I’m not much of a child-proofer. I didn’t grow up that way, and I don’t mother that way, either. My kids all know that if you drop a glass it will break, because they’ve all done so, and we get it over with sooner rather than later.

Neither, though, am I much for sugar coating or fancy when it comes to life. And why would I be? The reality is that we live in a fallen world, and to the enemy of our souls, children seem to be fair game. If he’s going to play dirty, I’m certainly not going to blindly insist to my children that life is all magic and fairytales.

As the preacher said in a recent sermon I listened to, “Life is NOT GOOD.” God is good. Life is hard

And I want my children, from their smallest years, in their tiniest awareness, to know that God can be trusted. All else is fragile, fickle, and finite. God is forever-love that they can lean their whole trust into and never be let down.

A few days ago Fiona told me about the bad dream that had awoken her and driven her to my bed for comfort. “I dreamed that you and Daddy left and then you never came back!” Oh, the sweet flow of tears down soft baby cheeks, as her little body collapsed against me in sobs, seeking assurance. She wanted me to make that bad dream go away.

And there’s the temptation to child-proof and sugar coat. To say, “Daddy and Mama will never leave you, baby!” But— But. Life is fragile, fickle, and finite.

So I leave all that false reality behind, the world of plastic cups and baby gates and instead I lead her to the best Reality of all:

“You know that Daddy and Mama will always come back to you, as long as it is in our power to do so. We love you so much. But you know, even I can’t promise you how life is going to go. Sometimes things happen to moms and dads and papas and nanas and friends… things that are hard and sad. But you know what I can absolutely promise you? Jesus will never ever leave you or forsake you, and every sad and scary thing that the devil tries to frighten you with? Jesus is stronger and greater, and He takes away our fear. And someday we’re going to live in His forever-kingdom where there can’t even be bad dreams because there is nothing bad.

Don’t child-proof life for your kids. They’re going to find out soon enough, when trials hit hard and close to home, that in this spiritual war, kids are fair game. But do take every opportunity to lead them to the Rock of truth, the Anchor of their souls, the Overcoming King. Give them Jesus.

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