Can Parents Go Overboard when Protecting Their Children?

In this video interview with former EPM staff member Julia (Stager) Mayo, we discuss the question: It’s the parent’s job to protect their children, but can they go overboard?

Randy: I think the answer is yes. But I’m all for reasonable protection. Sometimes Nanci and I joke when we put our grandchildren in their car seats with all the straps. We laugh that we’re putting them in the space shuttle and locking them in. Then we think about when we were kids—if there was a quick turn, we just rolled! That’s how it was. The good old days weren’t that good, because we weren’t that safe. I used to ride in the back of pickup trucks with my friends all the time. You never think of doing that today.

So, yes, let’s take reasonable precautions with our kids. But sometimes people will say, “Well, these parents decided to homeschool or send their kids to a private Christian school and these other parents just go ahead and send them to public school!” Then others will say, “I think all of these people who don’t choose to put their kids in public school are just being overly protective. They’re raising their children in a greenhouse. We’ve got to send our kids out to be missionaries in the world in order to be an influence on our culture.”

The problem with this is, first of all, we don’t send out missionaries unless those missionaries are prepared. That means an eight-year-old may not be equipped to be a missionary. The other problem is with the greenhouse comparison. The whole point of being in a greenhouse is not so that you won’t be ready for the world, but to make you ready for the world. Those plants that are raised in the greenhouse are then set outside where the hope is they will thrive. If we raise our children in a way that’s protective in the right ways, but not overly protective, we can be more confident they can go out into the world and make a difference for Christ.

Julia: I think it’s important to also assess children individually. Maybe in a family of three kids, one child at the age of six or seven would be ready to step into public school, if that’s where the parents wanted to send the child. But another kid wouldn’t be ready until much later or possibly public school would never be a good fit for him/her as an individual.

Randy: Exactly. I know parents who have a number of children and they’ve chosen homeschooling for one or two of the kids, private school for another, and public school for another, and even different schooling options at different times. It’s up to the parent, but certainly the parent needs to prayerfully consider this. Married couples need to talk it over and pray and decide what is best, as you say, for each individual child.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries

Julia (Stager) Mayo holds a Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies from Western Seminary. She was previously part of the Eternal Perspective Ministries staff, and still does occasional research work for Randy Alcorn.