Prepare over Protect / by John Hailes

It is no surprise to most people that our children are entering the World to face increasing challenges. It is becoming increasingly difficult to raise our kids with a faith that really sticks because of the external influences at play in their lives. These challenges are all to easily spotted by many conscientious parents; the internet, video games, music, movies, tv shows, school friends…and at times EVEN BOOKS!


In my experiences over the past few years I have observed how parents react to the pressures/challenges their children faced and have seen numerous actions. The response I find most prevalent in the Western Church is that of PROTECTION. Not a surprising result given that the natural response when under attack is to DEFEND. However, I often query whether trying to simply protect our children is enough to ensure a solid future.


For the majority of my life I have lived in England and consequently there is room for only one sport in my life…Football…or should I say Soccer? Either way, from years of watching soccer I have learned one thing for sure… ‘The best form of defense is a GOOD offense!’ In a fast moving game like soccer it is unthinkable to just sit back and defend for 90 minutes… from time to time a team will try to do this…but it almost always ends in their demise. You see as the game progresses the opposition’s attack grows in momentum and before the end of the match they always manage to find a hole or two in the team’s defense.


Life is a little like a soccer match. Our lives move quickly but they aren’t over in just 10 minutes. To last the distance and be successful in life you can’t just spend all your time in defense, protecting your child. There is an immoral and illogical Worldview at the core of our culture; it is always present and in many different forms. It is the opposing teams attack, it comes closer to its goal the longer the game goes on or the older your child grows! A solid defense is vital to a successful team but often when this is our primary tactic we set ourselves up for failure.


I’m offering a different tactic for raising our kids. I believe in preparing our kids for the World instead of solely protecting them from it! I’m not saying that we unload on our child the complete A-Z of Evil in the World…but does keeping them oblivious to it really work?


Imagine you were raising your kids and were worried about your kids walking into water and drowning. So you spend your life making sure your children never goes into the water. You plan their week around keeping them out of the water and you even put systems in place so they stay away from the water. This is a great idea to keep you child protected from the danger that they face…there is one problem though…What if your child stays over at a friends house? Or what if he grows old enough to go out with his friends for the day? I mean there is going to be a time when he comes in contact with WATER…only the problem now is...Will he be ready for it? The truth is he will sink rather than swim.


I’m not suggesting that we throw our kids into the deep end and see if they sink or swim from a young age but I am arguing that if we raise our kids away from the water then one day they will find themselves in it and most likely drowning in it.


It’s a principle for all of life, we should prepare our kids for what they will face by laying truth at the foundation of their life. We can’t hide our kids forever and one day the enemy will break through our defenses. We can’t monitor our kids Internet use forever, who they become friends with or what movies we watch…but we can instill principles in their lives that will prepare them to make good choices for the future. Protection is important to our children’s lives, but if we fail to prepare them for the future we have simply wasted our energy!


So when we put off conversations about topics our children raise… in order to maintain their innocence…we make a choice to let them be educated by others. It is important to remember that our defensive tactics often play into the hands of the enemy’s offense.