Truly, I Hate Overprotective Parents. I don't mean the parents who keep their kids from fire so they don't get burned. And I don't mean the parents who stop their kids from jumping on the sofa so they don't fall.
Funny story, this weekend Rachel was bouncing on the sofa and wouldn't stop when we asked her. Before we knew it she went flying over the armrest and flipped over, landing on the floor. While scary, once we knew she was ok, it was just darned awesome to watch.
Being my daughter, when we asked if she'd jump on the sofa again, what do you think she said? Through tears she nods, "yes".
Anyway, I have met all different kinds of parents as a youth leader. the ones that have always made me the most nervous are the immensely overprotective ones.
There are very appropriate levels of caution, and I will always err on the side of caution when it comes to my kids, and others' kids. Generally, you can't be safe enough.
What makes me nervous though is when safe enough turns into a safe bubble. We end up wanting our kids to be so safe and secure that they don't learn how to live a normal life in the outside world.
I've seen college students who get off to college and have no idea how to have a real relationship with a friend where they leave themselves vulnerable. Any time things don't go the way they want, the person immediately withdraws from the relationship and moves on.
I often wonder how these people will fare in the working world, when their manager is a jerk or their job is uninteresting. Maybe that's even part of the reason 20 something's today stay in a job for an average of 18 to 24 months before moving on.
What I've seen more often are the protected kids who go to college and can't handle the freedom. They party constantly, get into some hurtful relationships, and soon feel completely alone since they don't have close friendships or much parental connection to fall back on. After a year or two a balance is found, but I've also known some people who have crossed different lines (sexual, alcohol, drugs, self-mutilation) and never returned.
Mistakes in themselves are precious. Without mistakes growth happens very slowly. We all need to allow our children the freedom to make mistakes. We also need to always be available to help them through those mistakes.
The most precious gift we give our kids is the gift of unconditional love.
Not unconditional safety.