Tuesday, August 26, 2014

how to raise brave kids

Her shrill voiced broke through my thoughts on a recent grocery trip. It carried down the bread aisle while she gripped her daughter’s tiny arms, eyes frantically searching the child’s tear covered cheeks.

“Did someone hurt you? Are you okay?” She repeated it over and over. 

Her panicked words got me thinking. 

How can we raise brave kids? Because I’ll tell you that this is not the way. How can this young girl grow to be a brave woman with a mom who assumes tears means someone has hurt her? 

How can we raise brave kids when parents are being arrested for allowing their children to play alone?

I know that hurts will come and there are risks to raising children. There are real dangers out there, but I want to teach my children to grow strong in spite of them. I want for my kids to know that even though life is risky and sometimes painful we aren’t resigned to hiding. I want my children to embrace freedom.

My kids began adventuring at a very young age. When they were four, two and less than one, they broke out of the house. My husband spotted their escape from an upstairs window. We counted it all grace that we chose a home on a quiet street. And then we laughed. The two older ones were walking on either side of our crawling baby, who was still wearing her footed pajamas. And though they were young and most certainly should have asked permission, we applauded their boldness. We celebrated their bravery as they set off in our new neighborhood, in their brand new world. 

We still push them. We release them to make mistakes and get hurt and dirty. We offer words of encouragement when they fall, and we pull them back up to try again.

I’ve realized that maybe praying for my kids safety isn’t the best thing. Maybe those who are safe are that way because they rarely take a risk. I am reminded of Beaver’s words to Lucy about Aslan. When she asked if he was safe, he responded with: “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Safety shouldn’t be the goal. Bravery is, even when it smacks up against every bit of common sense. Maybe God intended for us to live thrilling lives, trusting him to do the safe keeping while we launch out in boldness.

Raising brave kids is about letting go of them, so God can grab ahold of them. Even when we want to run after them with bubble wrap and wet wipes. But that doesn’t really teach them much, does it? 

Raising brave kids is about trusting that God can do a better job with them than I can. It’s not about shirking my responsibility to protect them, but allowing them to take risks and get dirty and run around-like children should. Raising brave kids is about pushing them out of the house to explore the dirt hill, and find new adventures on their own. And raising brave kids is about letting them know that they have a safe place they can always return too.

We don’t teach them how to fall. We model how to get back up. We don’t insulate them from the world. We create opportunities for them to grow and struggle. We don’t squash their fears. We listen and provide them with strategies to cope. We raise brave kids by telling them that they’re brave. We tell them they can do it, and that they are strong, even when they don’t feel like it. And more than anything, we’re willing to be brave ourselves, so they can see how it’s done.


1 comment:

  1. Oh, wow. This both challenged and encouraged me. We have just recently moved to France and are in week 3 of sending our kids to school ... French school. The mama in me wants to keep them from bearing all the weight of navigating sometimes impossible days. And yet I know God ... the God who led us here ... is far more able than I to protect, to defend, and even to redirect.

    And yes, sometimes being brave ourselves is how we best help our kids be brave on their own. Thank you for this post!


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