Brave Moms Raise Brave Kids
by Jen Hatmaker on January 17th, 2013

Over delicious Greek food with my girlfriends, we had this conversation:
 
Me: I was made to parent boys, yall. I love boys. I love them dirty and reckless and dumb as a sack of diapers. I love their ridiculous “projects” and adventures and all that. I love how they are always one step away from dismemberment or death. It’s so fun. Boys are the best.
 
[Blank stares from my girlfriends]
 
Me: What?
 
Amy (mom of 4 boys): Last week, I caught Grey (3-years-old) on top of my dresser fetching a hunting knife from Brad’s “hiding place” so he could cut the top off a water bottle because he couldn’t get it opened and I was still sleeping. I believe we have two different definitions of “fun.”
 
Lynde: Um, you do remember that I wouldn’t let my 14-year-old high school son go to our suburban neighborhood park because I was convinced people might be selling drugs there, right? You’re barking up the wrong tree, sister.

 
They are totally right. I’m cut from a weird cloth here. I have the parenting sensibilities of a typical 1970’s mom whose only concern with her children was that were under her feet and needed to get outside.
What?? Oh, I guess 8 kids on the trampoline with no net is
FROWNED UPON IN THIS ESTABLISHMENT!


The first line of Remy's prayer last night: "Dear Lord, I wish my mom and dad were ninja."
She lives in a house of boys, Lord. Just ignore it.
 

This picture is my whole life's happiness. Please note his friend's bare chest and football pads, in which he looked in the mirror and said, "Caleb, dude, this makes me look buff."

Oh sure, when my kids were babies I lived in total fear, because obviously now that they were living outside my body, the universe was conspiring to kidnap/maim/emotionally injure/murder them. It was just a matter of time. Were it not for my diligent oversight, our neighborhood would undoubtedly be overrun by white vans with dark windows waiting for me to simply turn my back whilst they zipped my kids over to the black market.
 
But then I kept having more babies, and you know, those chillins started wearing me out. I began to use my precious mental margin less on strategies for rescuing us from a submerged car and more on just getting everyone the freak through each day. We emerged from several potentially life-ending scenarios unscathed: public restrooms, parks, driving over bridges, eating raw carrots, not-washing-hands-after-pee-pee, and I began to lighten up.
 

As a product of my own parents’ philosophy, perhaps this scene from 1985 might illustrate my point:
 
We were at our family cabin outside Colorado Springs for our summer vacay. My brother, 7, and our cousin Dorie, just 9, were outside at night in our family station wagon, curled up in blankets with the portable VHS TV, watching – wait for it – Candyman, which despite the enchanting name, is actually a petrifying horror movie for grown adults. (TV timeout: Really, Mom and Dad? Candyman?? For a 2nd  and 4th grader?? You understand my generation won’t let their kids watch Scooby Doo because of the fake ghosts, right?)
 
So as the two elementary-aged children were watching a parent-sanctioned horror movie in the middle of a dark forest, my dad and uncle decided it would be “hilarious” to sneak up on the car, make weird scratching noises, then scream and bang on the car in unison. Twenty years later, my brother and cousin will still pee their pants at the mere mention of it.
 
While Candyman and subsequent terror might have pushed the boundaries, I miss the days-gone-by of laidback parenting. I love boys to be boys, kids to be kids. I like to send them straight into the forest with hammers, knives, nails, duct tape, and hand-drawn blueprints and not hear boo from them in five hours. When they come home filthy and scratched, telling tales of skateboard ramps gone wrong and forts, I cannot express how much this thrills me.
 
I often feel like I’m surrounded by parenting books and mom blogs that are just…so precious…so earnest…I struggle to find connection and walk away discouraged and disillusioned and frustrated. We Hatmakers are simply not precious people. From Precious Ones we did not come, and Precious Ones we will never be.
 
Honestly? I like a little grit in my story. I often feel suffocated by my generation’s insistence on safety and control and perfection and hegemony. I genuinely like my kids to be a little wild and free. I want to have to say to my sons, “Only boys would think something like this up,” and pretend to be put out when really I’m enamored.
 
We are on a spectrum as parents, aren't we? At the beginning, it is full control, total adult responsibility. At the end of the main session, when they crush our hearts and leave for college, we they need to be weaned off. Somewhere in the middle, the needle has to move toward launch. What better place to practice growing up than under our roofs, still protected from total self-destruction by the safety net of childhood?
 
I’ve seen older kids babied within an inch of their lives, headed off to higher learning with no clue on how to be resourceful, how to figure it out, how to handle life’s knocks and bruises. Over-protection has its place for, say, kindergarteners, but at some point we need to put down the bumpers on the bowling lane.
 
Psychology Today stated, “According to a recent study by University College London, risk-taking behavior peeks during adolescence, suggesting that teens are "programmed" to take risks more often than other age groups… Contrary to popular belief, not all risk-taking is bad. In fact, many risks are not only good, but promote healthy neurological development and growth during the critical adolescent period.”
 
Not all risk-taking is bad risk-taking. For the love, don’t we want to raise kids who go for it? Who are brave and headstrong? These are not just the marks of achievers; they are the hallmarks of disciples. If we expect our kids to engage this broken world one day, safety has to be somewhere around #14 on the list. Our children will be totally ineffective if they are still afraid of their own shadow.
 
Are they going to blow it or fail or struggle in this parenting tract? Of course! Erwin McManus said his teen son asked him once: “Dad? Would you ever let me be in a dangerous situation?” Erwin answered, “YES! Totally!” and his son said, “I thought so. I was just making sure.”
 
We love Romans 8:28 for our kids: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  But can we accept the very next verse?
 
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”
 
Being conformed into the image of Jesus is not a pretty process, because our kids are born into sin and God has messy, real work to do to transform them into disciples. This process involves sacrifice and loss and struggle and failure and courage and maybe even danger and cultivating a single-minded obsession with the kingdom. They may embarrass or disappoint or scare us as they wrestle with God, but can we see his redemptive hand in their lives even then?
 
When have you grown the most? Changed the deepest? STRUGGLE. Failure. Loss. Risky obedience. Messy relationship mending. Our kids are the same. Our job is not to shield them from everything hard, but to parent them through it with wisdom and discernment. We should not pull our kids completely out of this culture in some parallel Christian universe, but teach them to navigate the real world with grace and conviction. This requires a gradual process of letting go, so our kids can actually live a real life with real people and real problems and discover the real God who shows up there.
 
I don’t want my kids safe and comfortable. I want them BRAVE. I don’t want to teach them to see danger under every rock, avoiding anything hard or not guaranteed or risky. They are going to encounter a very broken world soon, and if they aren’t prepared to wade into difficult territory and contend for the kingdom against obstacles and tragedies and hardships, they are going to be terrible disciples.
 
I don’t want to be the reason my kids choose safety over courage. I hope I never hear them say, “Mom will freak out,” or “My parents will never agree to this.” May my fear not bind their purpose here. Scared moms raise scared kids. Brave moms raise brave kids. Real disciples raise real disciples.
 
May we let the leash out, bit by bit, and allow our children to take big giant gulps of LIFE. Because their time under our roofs is waning as we speak, and we get one shot at this. One more quip from Erwin McManus, because THIS, this is the stuff:
 
One summer Aaron went to a youth camp. He was just a little guy, and I was kind of glad because it was a church camp. I figured he wasn't going to hear all those ghost stories, because ghost stories can really cause a kid to have nightmares. But unfortunately, since it was a Christian camp and they didn't tell ghost stories, because we don't believe in ghosts, they told demon and Satan stories instead. And so when Aaron got home, he was terrified.
 
"Dad, don't turn off the light!" he said before going to bed. "No, Daddy, could you stay here with me? Daddy, I'm afraid. They told all these stories about demons."
 
And I wanted to say, "They're not real."
 
He goes, "Daddy, Daddy, would you pray for me that I would be safe?"
 
I could feel it. I could feel warm-blanket Christianity beginning to wrap around him, a life of safety, safety, safety.

 
I said, "Aaron, I will not pray for you to be safe. I will pray that God will make you dangerous, so dangerous that demons will flee when you enter the room."
 
And he goes, "All right. But pray I would be really, really dangerous, Daddy."


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Tough, right?? I'm with you, Mamas and Daddies. Knowing when to let go is hard. Have any tips or stories to help us become brave parents?


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312 Comments
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Maya - January 18th, 2013 at 11:38 AM
Such a wonderful post. After reading the book Wild Things on how to raise boys into men of God I've realized how much I need to let go and let them explore their world. Love how you articulated it so clearly.
Laura - January 18th, 2013 at 1:25 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you. After working as an outdoor adventure/wilderness therapist...how did I ever become this mom of whom you write. I am so challenged by this, and so burdened by this fear that has overtaken me since pushing out 3 beautiful children...thank you for this AWESOME reminder to work toward being freed from my fears, if not only for my sake, certainly for the sake of my children!

Melanie Murphy - January 18th, 2013 at 1:32 PM
Hard post for me, but so good. After 2 little dumpling daughters, now 22 & 19, we had......Mikey! Oh.my.goodnes. Mikey made stitches look like a new fad. He superglued his feet to the floor taking chunks out upon removal, he jumped off roofs and shot himself in the nipple with a BB gun (and put it on youtube for the pleasure of others). I learned the oh- so- hard way. At 17 (now) he has been our roller coaster ride of adventure. Love every rambunctious drop of him, but, boy oh boy what a boy. I had to stop the sin of worry and embrace trust in the Lord, which did not (DOES not) come easy for me. Thank you for your post. Loved it!
Muzzy - January 18th, 2013 at 2:44 PM
YOU ARE MY SOUL MATE! I'm serious - I love everything you write. Keep it comin!
Judy - January 18th, 2013 at 3:01 PM
As the mom of a twenty year old, full of adventure, loves life in all its action, Christ honouring son, I'm a huge fan of unstructured play in the outdoors. This post is so refreshing.

I'd just like to mention a book title that I think is helpful to an understanding of the importance of freedom to play in the outdoors with only a few guidelines for safety and minimal supervision. "Boys Should Be Boys" by Meg Meeker - she is a paediatrician and a parent, so for those moms on the timid end of the spectrum, she writes with a balance and wisdom, that helps parents shift from fear to courage in allowing, dare I say encouraging, this kind of play. While not overtly Christian, the author speaks powerfully to the value of faith in a boy's upbringing, to the ways this rambunctious, adventurous play is part of the rite of passage to manhood for them, and to some of the dangers inherent in choosing electronic life instead.
Should moms reading this have boys in the mid-upper years of elementary school for whom this way of being is new, and they are uncertain of how they might play in 'the wild' - the English children's book author, Arthur Ransome has a wonderful series of books - "Swallows and Amazons" is the first, and they are perfect read-alouds) - the things my son and his younger sister and friends came up with, based loosely on those adventures remain some of the highlights of my parenting experience. And the mother in the story - she's a wonderful facilitator, enabling the adventurers to set forth prepared.
Sandy Cooper - January 18th, 2013 at 3:08 PM
I haven't read through all the comments, but wondered if you've read Grace Based Parenting, by Tim Kimmel. I read it several years ago and have since read it through 4 more times. It speaks of this exact concept. He talks about how teaching kids to swim on the living room carpet is one thing...putting them in a swimming pool and making them swim to you is entirely different. He also says that if we don't teach our kids to navigate the world while they are still in the safety of our care, then all we will do is raise kids who are really, really good at navigating church culture. I don't want kids who are professional church go-ers. I want kids who are not intimidated or swayed in their faith when they encounter sin. I don't want my kids to go to college and go, "Oh crap! What do I do now??? Everyone is DRINKING! And SWEARING!" I want them to have it figured out by then what they will do, because hopefully by then, they will have already been faced with that decision and walked through it. Hopefully by then we would have helped them navigate the world while they were here. In my home.

That said--my husband bought my son a pocket knife a few years ago and he cut himself within about 3 minutes. So I took it away and have not given it back. So, yeah...I'm still working on all this.
Ursula - January 18th, 2013 at 6:59 PM
I think there's an important distinction between raising kids who can risk and kids who are reckless. I don't think an artificial dichotomy needs to be created between protection and courage (and it seems like a lot of comments did this). I totally get what you're saying about encouraging kids to risk, allowing for exploration, and not allowing fear to rule. But, I'm also a mama who loves me some helmets and protective wrist guards. If you think about explorers, they do everything they can to minimize unnecessary dangers, prepare, be equipped, and have back up plans. And then they go. I think raising brave kids means teaching about both how to be safe and how to risk. Courage without wisdom can lead to destruction. Caution without courage or conviction can too.
Jenny - January 18th, 2013 at 9:11 PM
I completely agree with you Ursula! "I don't think an artificial dichotomy needs to be created between protection and courage (and it seems like a lot of comments did this)." "I think raising brave kids means teaching about both how to be safe and how to risk. Courage without wisdom can lead to destruction. Caution without courage or conviction can too."
-- Well said!

Lynn W. - January 18th, 2013 at 7:31 PM
i couldn't agree more! 'nough said!
Amy - January 18th, 2013 at 8:24 PM
I'm a mama of 2 boys (10 and 13) and my teenager came home and mentioned he'd forgotten his gym clothes so HE JUST RAN TO THE LOST AND FOUND TO GRAB SOME TO USE TODAY!

My response..."Gross...totally gross..do you know about bed bugs and hepatitis and ...."

My husband's response, "Very resourceful son. Glad you didn't have to miss gym class."

They are aliens.
Suzi - June 19th, 2013 at 11:12 AM
I just about spit my tea across the table I read this. Sooo funny!
Kirsten Lucas - July 4th, 2013 at 5:49 PM
Now THAT is resourceful! And mom, he probably picked out the least sweaty stuff, duh! ;)
Angela P - August 17th, 2013 at 4:44 PM
Hilarious. That is great I think. Did he bring them home for you to wash too? You never know when someone will be in need.
Deanne - January 18th, 2013 at 9:33 PM
Four kids....they range from 2 to 18. The first born had three baths a day, numerous daily clothing changes, and was not allowed to get dirty(but thats ok because he was only the test baby ;) Fast forward to now.......2 year old dropped a gummy on Walmart floor while shopping, picked it up and ate it...I didnt bat an eye.....however her eight year old brother exclaimed "Mom are you TRYING to kill her"?
Debra - January 18th, 2013 at 10:15 PM
I have 3 different things I want to say. (Besides the obvious, which is, thank you for writing this refreshingly different take on Christian parenting from what I normally find in Christian mommy blogland!)

First, and I'm sure you'll agree, "bravery" is not only the result of parenting. There's a lot to be said for a person's innate wiring too. I feel like the bias of the conversation here is that it's all up to the parents to "make" their child be a brave, fearless risk-taker for Jesus. And I just want to give a shout-out to those parents who, like me, are raising kids who have from birth been naturally more cautious and timid. Kids will take on their parents' fears, but they also have fears and tendencies all their own, regardless of parenting.

And on that note, the second thing I want to say is that I think a caveat is in order regarding those kids who AREN'T naturally prone to rambunctious, risk-taking behavior (be they boys or girls). I am raising a very cautious, rule-conscious, slow-to-warm-up daughter, who won't play in the McDonald's playland if other kids are present. When she feels safe and comfortable, she is a happy, goofy chatterbox. But she HAS to feel safe in order to open up. That's the way she came out of the womb. My husband and I are always trying to encourage her in taking risks, that things don't have to be perfect, or perfectly safe. (She never believes us.)

So when it comes to growing her bravery and independence, I am searching to find that line between "challenging" and "overwhelming" - something that is VERY important, I think, in raising a naturally timid child. Her first week at preschool, she came home crying everyday - the first day it took her 30 minutes to stop physically quaking. But after the first week, we switched her to a calmer, more orderly preschool with more experienced teachers, and now she is thriving. We gave it a week at the first school and when she was still crying, we said, "You have to go to school. But you don't have to go to THIS school." She still cries some mornings when I drop her off, and it is still a big risk for her every single day. But it's one she can handle, and she comes home happy, accomplished, and growing.

I guess what I really want to say to parents is, Yes, encourage your child to face hard things. Parent them through it rather than rescuing them. But also realize those times when your child is facing something beyond their resources to cope, and they need you to step in - this is not rescuing, but just doing your job as their caretaker.

And third, this post comes at a really interesting time for me because I am having to decide where to send my daughter to kindergarten next year, taking into account everything I've just written. Public? Private? Home? All the questions you're talking about are ringing in my head as I decide how "safe" and how "risky" I want her school environment to be, given her temperament. If only there were obvious answers...

Again, thank you. Your own bravery is evident even in you posting this.
Rachel A - January 18th, 2013 at 10:30 PM
I get so frustrated over all the lily-livered guys running daintily around. I just told my husband last night, "I want our girls to marry men that know how to throw knives, not match a tie to a shirt." I guess we aren't precious people either.
Dianne - January 18th, 2013 at 11:09 PM
Thank you for the refreshing post. It was so nice to hear from a Christ follower whom I respect (after reading 7 and being grown) who thinks like I do.
I was raised by a single mom with a hands-off attitude (granted, it was for selfish reasons -- she was a teen mom). I learned so much on my own, the hard way. I can think for myself and make decisions. I know why I believe what I believe.
I'm in my early twenties and not a mom yet, but I'm surrounded by "precious" friends and family who all homeschool and shelter their kids and try to control every move of their children's lives. I certainly think they're doing what they think is best, but I feel like such an outcast when they talk about staying home with their kids and homeschooling and doing all they can to avoid "bad" schools, etc. I'm going to work probably full time in a demanding career, and I will probably put my kids in public school and -- yes -- even daycare. It's nice to know there are people who love Jesus, but don't want to remove their kids from everyone else to shield them and be sure to form them the "right" way.
Joy - July 23rd, 2013 at 9:27 AM
I hear what you are saying... and agree that there are a lot of homeschool parents like that... I homeschool so that my son can be a kid. He plays in the woods for hours and gets a sparkle in his eyes as he comes up with ridiculous ideas. I homeschool because the idea of making him sit for hours is ridiculous. He isn't sheltered. I always thought I would work full time. Until, I saw him slowly wilt away in daycare. Now I love the sparkle in both my kids eyes so much. I love hearing about their adventures and I really don't want to miss out. I'm not judging anyones choices. I'm just asking you not to judge ours.
Jennifer - January 19th, 2013 at 9:36 AM
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

After trying to get pregnant for so long, going through a devastating miscarriage, and then giving birth to an absolute angel with Down Syndrome, I vowed to be a "precious" mama. I would change "precious" diapers, sing "precious" lullabies, utter "precious" I love yous. "Precious" in every since of the pathetic word you described.

I would keep Baker safe. I would be the first smile he saw each morning and the last kiss smooching those rosy cheeks each day. I would be his mommy, his best friend, his protector. I would bandage boo-boos and heal hurts. I would hold his ears when people said uglies. I wanted to be his everything.

And reality is, I can try and I will fail.

And really, are all of these things the most important? Is that the mother God has created me to be? Is that the life He has chosen for Baker?

As I read your blog, I kept uttering defenses. But he has Down Syndrome. I need to be his advocate. And while that is true, he needs to know he was created in God's image and my goal as his mommy should not be to create a bubble around him to keep him well and free from life's cruelties. It should be to love him so much that I teach him God is going to protect him and when life sucks, because somedays it will, God has created Him to be a fighter.

My prayer has changed. It is no longer to keep him safe, but to make him dangerous. Way dangerous for the kingdom.

http://bakerisourdreamcometrue.blogspot.com/
Murphy Must Have Had Kids - January 19th, 2013 at 10:25 AM
This post is full of awesomeness. My kids are only 1 and 5 but already there are so many opportunities to let go in little ways. Yesterday my five year old went sailing down a mountain on his scooter. I knew he would fall (he did) and knew he would cry (he did) but he had his helmet, was fine, and today I get to brag about how brave he is.

I must now go and follow you. :)
Monica - January 19th, 2013 at 11:46 AM
LOL! and aww! I was laughing from the beginning(that first paragraph is a great discription of how I feel as well), and I LOVE that you have shared this, thank you! I am an "old fashioned" young mother of two boys, and I love every minute of it! I let them go outside right after the rain storm and come in muddy :D I have been struggling with adding Jesus to our everyday things(new to it), *but* I am getting better, this past week has been amazing, and I can see Him in our everyday lives. I want to thank you again for sharing this. God Bless!
Linnie - January 19th, 2013 at 12:28 PM
Wow! I'm a South African Mother of 6 boys and 2 girls and just needed to read this! My oldest just turned 18 and experienced a huge disappointment over the weekend. We could do nothing to 'protect' him and when I asked my husband, why? he said, "It will equip him to better decision-making." And now you're confirming this with your posting. Thank you so much! God bless.
Kendra George - January 19th, 2013 at 4:07 PM
Hi Jen, I'm sharing a link to my blog, because Jesus is messing up my life with your book 7, and I'd thought youd like to hear about it.:) Maybe when you come to tupelo, MS to our church The Orchard at the end of this year (I think it is), you can join our 7 group for some fun and discussion! We would love to have you, pretty please! :)
http://kendralgeorge4514.blogspot.com/2013/01/i-joined-gym.html?spref=fb
Thanks, Jen,
kendra george
Jenny Simmons - January 19th, 2013 at 10:09 PM
Hi Jen-
Big hugs and thank-you's coming your way tonight! I relate to this post as a TRAPPED momma :). I've had major fear issues my entire life. The whole "escaping emerged vehicles" and per my dad's instruction, aiming for an attackers eyeballs first- then scrotum- then making sure I steal their gun and shoot them, not once, but at least ten times to make sure they are really, really dead. That kind of thing. And yet, because I am a musician and speaker, I don't have the luxury of insulation. I have to get in cars that will probably lurch me into insanely cold rivers and I have to be around lots and lots of people and love them- while trying not to let them know that I am sizing up exactly how to pluck their eyeballs out of their head. I've been called by Jesus to not live in fear- and yet I have to fight those feelings every single day in a really big way (And thank God for the power of Zoloft that enables me do a lot of the fighting!).

I say that first so that when I say to other momma's that my daughter- who will be 4 years old in April- has been on 273 airplane rides, lived on 2 tour buses, one of which blew-up and burned to the ground, and more taxis, public transit, cruise-ships and stranger's vehicles than I can count: I don't say it with reckless pride. As if I am patting myself on the back that she has more frequent flyer miles than most grown adults do! I say it as a momma who has spent a life time living with anxiety issues deeply rooted in fear. So I am a mom who has had to make a choice: follow Jesus and not raise my daughter in a traditional, scheduled, safe, controlled environment... which I desperately wanted to. Or be a Brave mom, who followed Jesus (against my better judgement) and raised my daughter outside of my own fears and in a way that wasn't traditional or safe or even rational for that matter.

My pastor, Jackie Roese, would always say to me before I left on tours and I was wracked with guilt..."Jenny, have you asked Jesus how to parent Annie on the road? Have you asked him to put your fear to rest? To give you wisdom? You know he knows how to parent her.... right?" And another traveling artist-momma, Natalie Grant said, "Jenny, God has called you to serve him and he has called you to create and make music... you can trust that God does not contradict Himself." WOW. I held on to both of these for dear life! Ask Jesus how to parent my daughter. And trust that God does not contradict himself. The message was clear. I was to be a scared-to-death, brave mom. And it started before she was born- traveling until the week before she was born. On stage, 2 centimeters dilated with my sweet doctor waiting for me in the wings :)
What kind of crazy woman does that?!?!? For me- the kind of woman who decides that God's voice and calling HAVE to trump my fears- I have to be brave- I AM brave. And if I were at your house, I would eye the trampoline with absolute fear and wait for Annie to scream and see blood spurting and bones popping out.

But at the end of the day: she would be on the trampoline. Because each day Jesus is calling me to be brave- and it's a freaking fight- and I HATE it... but my God it's freeing.

4 years later: She has ingested lots of taco bell, been through more airport scanners than I can count, had more sweet-college age sitters than I can ever remember- been exposed to way too much gasoline fumes on the bus, (backtrack: slept in a bus with no child safety restraint), had more germs because of fans and strangers constantly picking her up and sharing their food with her (who does this?!?!) and been around way too high-decibel music volumes on a weekly basis. She knows to scream if a stranger tries to hurt her and that no one can touch her private parts and that cats are really disgusting because they wipe their booties with their own tongues.... but besides those main things... she frequently proclaims to anyone who will listen "I have strong bones and I am brave. Did you know that?!??!"

And she is. She is brave. Courageous. Empathetic and compassionate. Appropriately afraid. And terribly fearless as she explores the world. She thinks she is ready to fly the plane now. And I am so, so grateful.

Thank you for reminding us of the beauty and freedom in being brave moms who are raising brave kids. It's not as easy for me as it is for you- I have to work really, really hard at it. But each day Jesus is showing me how to do it- He is the best teacher... and mom's like you remind me to open up my hands just a wee bit more today than I did yesterday. Thank you for being brave, Jen.
Becca - January 19th, 2013 at 11:38 PM
So true. I am guilty of telling my kids about "bad people" in the world. I don't want to instill fear in them but at the same time I want to be honest with them. It's a hard balance.

So far, my boy (4 years old) is the one I helicopter parent the most. He is the more sensitive of the two and I worry about him more. I feel like he is more vulnerable so I guess I feel like I need to be there to stand up for him if something were to happen. My girl (3 years old) is feisty, stubborn and tough. She is very independent. I don't worry about her as much and have an easier time letting her go. I tend to give her a longer leash.

Thanks for the reminder that letting go is OK.

PS- Did you have your trampoline when you had your homestudy for your adoption? I feel like our social worker would have frowned upon a trampoline without a net. Or a trampoline at all for that matter. TX must be more laid back than VA.

We have done more baby proofing for our adopted child than we ever did for our bios! We are supposed to have our kitchen knives locked up? Oops! No cleaning supplies on ground level? Oops again! Not only have cleaning supplies out of reach but also locked up. Have a fire extinguisher. No bunk beds for kids under 7. Keep our medications separate from food items? It's a wonder our kids have survived. ;) They are safe now though. Homestudy approved. :)
Tammy - January 20th, 2013 at 10:46 AM
Still trying to find out where I can purchase the DVD kit for Interrupted. Help!

Lindsay - January 20th, 2013 at 1:41 PM
Jen, I just love you.
My mom completely filled my head with fear. When I was a little girl and we were at the mall she would always make me review what to do if a stranger grabs me. We walked through parking lots with keys in our hands, ready to protect ourselves. I was told repeatedly to look around, to always be ready for someone to take me. To this day I am a fearful person and don't take many risks. God help me to not parents our kids this way!! I have an amazing, brave husband who is CRAZY and will try anything - and it's one of my favorite things about him. I plan to print this blog post out and refer back to it countless times in the years ahead!
Michele - January 20th, 2013 at 4:28 PM
Thank you for this wonderful post. I am a 50 year old mom with 4 kids - one 17, one 19, one 22 yr old and a recently married 24 yr old. We raised our kids similar to how we were raised (hubby and I were raised in the country and did the play all day, come home at dark). We are fortunate to live in a small town in Ontario - Canada. I agree, we have to let our kids learn to figure things our - our kids have gone through some really hard stuff, but they also learned some valuble life lessons along the way. We are blessed to have Christ front and center,even he wanted us not to fear. Yes as parents it is up to us to teach and model safety, but we also need to let our kids explore and discover. As a result they can think for themselves. They learned common sense. Thank you for sharing!
Dabney Hedegard - January 20th, 2013 at 8:12 PM
Slow clap.

Glory. I loved this post.

Thanks.

Dabney
melanie - January 21st, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Well said. I have done some major fear-conquering in my 9 years of parenting, thanks to being raised in an rather fear-based home. But I've also come to understand my parents a bit better the deeper I wade into parenting.

So here's my ever-changing take "in defense of the over-protective parent":

http://shesourceful.com/2010/07/01/in-defense-of-the-over-protective-parent/

And my latest challenge is sleepovers. I experienced seances, Oija boards, horror movies, crap food, and a friend who was molested by an older brother during my sleepover years. Plus saying no to all of them keeps you from having to say no to the families you don't know very well (or don't trust) and them taking it personally.

What say you? Are sleepovers in the "just be brave, you freak!" category?
Sarah L - October 17th, 2013 at 6:46 PM
You know how people on the internet always say, "oh, you're my soul sister!" to random strangers? Well, you might be my parenting soul sister. Thanks for sharing your blog post. I'm right there with you.

For what it's worth, we are a no sleepover family, too. It's just not worth it, in my opinion.
Tashina Cross - January 21st, 2013 at 4:56 AM
I loved this! I needed this!!!! Thanks so much for reminding me how to take the things from my past to my children. I'm street smart, I'm adaptable, I'm driven. I pave my way. And I was really struggling with understanding why my teens don't. It's so frustrating. I think I better understand. I've definitely. Loosened the reins on my second but he's my son and I've tried to find books on how to raise a boy. I just don't know how to do it. I'm a girl. 100% girl. And I don't think like that. But is like to. I don't want him to be momma's boy. I want him strong. Fearless. I want him to man-up. But I don't know where to start. I think you've given me some much needed direction. Thank you!
Yvette - January 21st, 2013 at 12:27 PM
Ok. Really God?! His timing is so perfect! My husband and I have launched two young women to college that is a 17 hour drive from our home. Our oldest will be graduating as an RN and planning to stay in Ohio, with further hopes of living in a third world country as a missionary nurse. Our second oldest is a sophomore and plans to go to London her senior year to study journalism. We have 2 other daughters graduating from high school this spring, but one of them leaves for Brazil in a month to do a internship with a missionary family until June. We have 1 high school sophomore and one 8th grade, who are also girls.
Just 2 days ago I got into a heated argument with my husband because 2 of our high school daughters have been hiking in the nearby trail area and hanging by the river to talk and relax. I was so upset that they were out there "alone" with other trailblazers. I am afraid for them. REALLY? After writing out what we have allowed our daughters to do and making those decisions based on our belief that God has wired each individually and with a specific purpose, I have to laugh at myself! I am afraid of the trails, but not of sending our girls all over the world!
I have prayed for my children to be set apart and used for God's glory, no matter where or how. Why would I begin to fear? I want them to live fully! I want them to LIVE!
We no longer live in a world where our daughters get married and are taken care of. They must be ready to live in a hard world and survive. They must learn to love others, even if it is dangerous. As far as I can see in Scripture, there has never been a prayer for safety, but there has been prayer for God to protect and to give courage and strength.
Thank you for the reminder! I will apologize to my husband tonight!
Elizabeth - January 21st, 2013 at 7:17 PM
For me, the key to being a brave parent of two teenaged boys has been prayer...not for their safety, but that I would know God intimately and abide in His love for me and for my kiddos. My kids are His and I trust Him and know that He loves them and is always with them no matter what life brings.
Bethany - January 21st, 2013 at 8:16 PM
I might be precious, and I think it probably seems like I have precious sauce too. In fact, I think I was raised to be dripping with the sauce, but I have been working mightily to shake it off in my adulthood...

But I live on your "gritty side" sometimes too! I let my kids eat raw cookie dough, we play in the mud outside, kiss the dog, buy real roller skates for our five and three year olds - and no one knows, but we haven't washed our curly headed kid's hair in well over a week.

We live in an urban setting, serve the church, go on mission trips, and as long as I have something to say about it my kids will be worshiping with the homeless. Plus, we are in the process of our biggest risk yet, fostering-to-adopt a precious daughter - in a legal case that has had every one's from the ad litim's to the case worker's head spinning. I DID say to my husband that my parents were going to freak out when we decided to foster-to-adopt! And yet we moved forward, because we too believe that our children are not harmed by loving others - by being like Jesus.

And I'm usually all with you - LOVED your MOPS session notes on Letting Go, loved 7, and I love how you've helped me with your words on our adoption journey.

AND we can't all agree on everything, so I would like to, very respectfully, push back on a few points, because I've been chewing on it half the day now, like a popcorn kernel stuck in my teeth...

I feel like this post and the comments turned into a Christian Mom version of the movie scene in "What to Expect When You're Expecting" where the dads are boasting to each other their blunders: "I dropped my kid off the changing table... I found my kid playing in the toilet... found him eating a diaper..." Let's be honest. We can teach our children to be brave without making foolish decisions about their safety. There is a difference in over-protection and just common-sense-I'm-a-parent protection. I know real parents who have actually had their children dismembered, killed, and molested. I tried to imagine them reading this, and I couldn't imagine them getting through it.

I too must voice that we Christians cannot advocate for guns and play. We know too much about child soldiers, war, and mental illness for any picture of precious young boys with toy guns to be anyone's "whole life's happiness". As fun as hyperbole is, and as useful, guns are just not fun or funny. We've seen too much lately in our own country even for this go without comment. We know a better way than this. Jesus showed it to us.

I also must comment on the quote by Erwin McManus. I get the point. I so do. I get it, because the desire and intent behind the quote matches my own desire and intent in parenting precisely. We want our kids to be brave for Christ. We want our children to choose the hard path, if it's the right and holy path. We want them to flee the comfort for the love. I get it. But we must be very careful here. We must tread with much caution, and we must think long and hard about each word we use on this issue. Because words have power. And they can be fun and sassy and sarcastic and over-the-top, but they must also not lead anyone astray.

If we do not comfort our children, if children can not be protected in their thoughts at bedtime, if we cannot allow our children to feel safe in their beds, what is the point of God's comfort and love and mercy and grace? Let's let children be children. Not insulated, spoon fed, deluded children. But children who rest easily in the sweet and loving prayers of their parents and the protection of their Jesus. This Jesus I know, this kind and generous Jesus, who "wanted to gather Jerusalem as a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings," this Jesus wants my children and all children to feel safe in their beds at night. Isn't that one thing we're fighting for in trying to end human trafficking!?! There are good parts of our hard and daring faith that do, in fact, feel like a warm blanket, and thank God for that. The truth is that in Him we are safer (even in death!) than we or our children can even understand. So, yes, may they feel that as they fall asleep! And Father forgive us if in our zeal we attempt to make another kind of child soldiers, who cannot even sleep for fear of demons.
Amanda - January 21st, 2013 at 9:47 PM
Thank you. Very well said.
Gina - January 22nd, 2013 at 7:21 AM
I am so glad someone said this: "Christians cannot advocate for guns and play. We know too much about child soldiers, war, and mental illness for any picture of precious young boys with toy guns to be anyone's "whole life's happiness." I found that picture to be horrifying and something I'd see from VICE magazine or something!
Carrie - January 22nd, 2013 at 8:33 AM
Amen. Thank you for putting into words what I was feeling as I read this post!
Jill - March 20th, 2013 at 2:17 PM
I was scrolling down to make certain observations and read your post. THANK YOU! Just what I wanted to say.
Gina - January 21st, 2013 at 9:04 PM
I'm not your typical reader, I'm sure. I happened upon this via someone's Facebook post. My reaction is wondering why you are so fixated on the gender issue when it comes to "bravery" (boys, boys, boys!) And also, why guns and weapon play has to be a factor. That image you say is your joy, to me, is either frightening or some kind of butch campiness. A kid with a pretend machine gun or whatever that thing is?!?! And then we wonder why people are shooting up schools. People teach their boys that it's cool and badass to play with guns. Also, scaring children with "Satan stories" (or "End Times" stories, or hell) is terrible, too. Certain people *think* they are on the side of good, but they are really not. The best I can say is they are deluded.
Wendy Redal - January 21st, 2013 at 11:26 PM
Thanks for another honest, feisty, put-it-out-there post, Jen. I love having your voice in the world, especially the Christian world. I just launched an adventurous 18-year-old son off for a gap year of volunteer mission work before heading off to college in the fall, and learned that while he spent 4 months in the back of beyond in the Peruvian Andes, he rode a motorcycle solo over 100 miles of horrible roads; took a local bus by himself to visit Cusco 8 hours away, staying awake the entire time so as not to get robbed; ate sheep's head soup served to him by a Quechua family in a village they visited; was nearly mugged for his nice down jacket (fortunately he is fluent in Spanish and heard the would-be thieves talking about it behind him - he ran away and quickly learned to wear a scruffy hoodie); and set off firecrackers with his Peruvian mission team that were double the size of banned M80s here at home, more like small bombs (my son's first email address in 6th grade was pyrotechnikfreak@yahoo.com).

Friends can't believe his dad & I "let" him go off to the far reaches of a foreign country on his own. Then again, they couldn't believe we let him ride his bike 1 mile to our neighborhood middle school, or that we would "make" him do it on cold winter days (sans snow). While our son is flying to South America by himself and immersing himself in a new culture, there are university freshmen where I have taught who don't know how to get a bus to the local airport to go home for Christmas at the end of the first semester.

Do I pray a lot for my wild-and-crazy son? You bet. Am I grateful he is embracing the world head-on? That too. I think he will be gutsy enough to do big things in the name of Christ as well. Thanks, as ever, for the conversation!
Amanda - January 22nd, 2013 at 1:16 PM
Jen -- thank you for this. I'm tearing up thinking of my scared mama raising this scared girl, but I'm determined to make it out brave, to help my boys be brave. I'm grateful that they have a brave daddy, grateful for God who makes me strong when I feel like letting them trample all over me (and they're only 1 and 4!). I'm pinning this as a reminder...
Margaret Feinberg - January 22nd, 2013 at 3:14 PM
Jen, never a dull moment with boys around! Thanks for sharing those great pictures!
Emma - January 22nd, 2013 at 9:50 PM
I'm a nanny and have seen countless children through their toddler years. I've observed a tendency on the playground for parents to follow behind their toddlers every move. I don't do this. Instead I don't help them climb onto things. They will climb when they are physically able to get up and down themselves. What I've noticed with this approach is that "my" kids are more able to judge for themselves how high to climb. They don't look behind them first to see if a parent is watching, nor do they get themselves in many difficulties. They are given the chance to explore their world at their pace and through toddler directed not parent directed exploration. Great post
Nickie - January 22nd, 2013 at 11:22 PM
This is my first time to your blog (found you from Steph at Keeper of the Home) and I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this post!!!! I'm a newer mum and I find that my laissez fair attitude about many aspects of my son are so abnormal to other people.... but I figure he is a kid, he will bounce, he is tough, and he will be BRAVE! Thank you!
holiday - January 22nd, 2013 at 11:32 PM
You are freaking awesome!
Elisha - January 23rd, 2013 at 3:47 PM
Wow, this was GOOD. So true, sister, so true! As God said over and over to Joshua before sending him into the promise land, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9).


Benedicte - January 24th, 2013 at 12:38 AM
Check out freerangekids.com, a great blog dedicated to the subject of letting kids free!
Annie - January 24th, 2013 at 6:46 AM
Yesssssss this is awesome!!! I grew up with three older brothers and spent my entire childhood trying to keep up with them. It resulted in 14 broken bones (most unnoticed until weeks later) and a whole lot of fun and adventure. I loved every single minute of it, even when I was using my youngest and only girl status to get them in trouble. My parents tried to be more protective of me as a girl, but I fought it with everything I had in me.

I am now living alone in a pretty high-crime area of Africa and somehow, God gives my parents the grace to trust God and the way they equipped me during the 18 years I was in their "nest". I have had my fair share of "wake up calls" that the world is not all "good" but as John Piper says, %u201CIf you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full. It's not about how to avoid a wounded life, but how to avoid a wasted life. Some of you will die in the service of Christ. That will not be a tragedy. Treasuring life above Christ is a tragedy."

Wild and free childhoods are just the beginning of something so much bigger. I am encouraged by the way y'all live your lives! Keep it up :)
Sarah - January 24th, 2013 at 1:59 PM
Just a side-note . . . . . the desire for mess, adventure, building and risk is not a "boy" thing. We girls are that way as well. If our churches and societies and parents will let us
Ashley Phillips - February 7th, 2013 at 2:16 PM
Hey Sarah - I am just rereading this blog as I commented (through facebook and not in this comments section) about a similar feeling from this blog. It seems not many people seem to feel a injustice or even notice that there was a surprisingly obvious placing of boys and girls in their respective boxes while proudly proclaiming which was preferred.

I am encourages by your comment - but don't see any conversation around it or rely to it. None to mine either.
Ashley Phillips - February 7th, 2013 at 2:37 PM
typo queen here. Meant to type "don't see any conversation around it or REPLY to it."
Kari Patterson - January 25th, 2013 at 9:23 AM
Jen!! I can't find a "contact" button here (probably because, um, about 5 million people are trying to contact you at any given time) so I'm racking my brain for ways to get in touch with you. I thought about constructing an elaborate story about me being your long lost sister, kidnapped at birth, but that seemed sick. SO, I'm a writer/speaker/momma/church-planter/pastor's-wifey sister like yourself, I live in Portland where the motto is "keep Portland weird" and we abandoned our big-suburban-church lifestyle last year to plant a weird missional church (we started in our backyard) ... and I'm writing a book. My agent and I would LOVE if you'd consider endorsing (or even just saying "hi!", that'd be cool too) it. I'm not sure why it took me so long to find you but everyone keeps saying, "You have to read Jen H, she's just like you." Except that you're way, way, WAY cooler and you've been doing all this weird "give your life away" stuff for a lot longer. :) So there. I've made a fool of myself hoping to get in touch with you. I feel like the weirdo at the football stadium who paints his chest so the camera will catch him.
I'd love to talk to you! THANK YOU!
leigh gray - January 25th, 2013 at 12:21 PM
I love you girlie!!!
Amy - January 25th, 2013 at 7:22 PM
Jen, You are a mother after my own heart! I want my children to be brave and dangerous! Not ever safe and secure in a bubble wrapped world where they don't have to trust God for anything. This past year my 10 yo boy and 11 yo girl went on 5 week mission trips out of the country. It was a great experience for all of us. Most parents said "I could never let them go." I thought I don't want to be the one who stops them from serving God.
Adria - January 26th, 2013 at 9:02 AM
Jen,
I don't know where to ask this so I am hoping you will read this comment...first of all, thank you so much for being brave enough to obey His leading to be bold! I truly believe He is working in our generation through you for amazing change! Some "precious" friends and I are doing our own fasting "7" experiment in the deep South and we are just getting started on the food month. I have spent the last several weeks doing online research and trying to get in touch with several missionaries all to answer a few basic questions. I am ashamed that I live so much in a bubble as a young mom here in such a rich country and am doing absolutely nothing to reach out to those in need. We are praying about where He wants to lead us next. Your bible study questions in "7" are rocking our worlds....in a humbling and exciting way. We want to learn about and start sharing with our kids about poverty as a first baby step to changing the way we live. This is what I want to know and I am having trouble finding:
1. what do children in the poorest countries of the world (like Haiti) eat? i remember one of your council members serving their food to her children...we want to do this...please help us find resources...we plan to sponsor a child and donate financially and really to "go" one day but for now...baby step...food???
2. what do these children do for fun?
3. where do they sleep?
4. what do they wear?
any resources to help us would be soooo much appreciated! thanks for all the kingdom work you invest in! we are praying for you and your precious family!
Adria - January 26th, 2013 at 9:10 AM
I just reread my post and had to laugh at myself for calling your family "precious"...you know it was a high compliment from here:)....am having trouble even coming up with another word...HAH!
cassie - October 29th, 2013 at 8:50 AM
Hi Adria, I recently went to Haiti and can tell you a bit about the food, clothes, games and such.... it's VERY different than America. The eat beans and rice a lot, when they can afford it...but the beans a're made just a few beans to a whole pot of bean juices and then it's poured over the rice (mostly for flavor). For fun, they play outside. Games like soccer, hair braiding, throwing rocks (or balls if they have them). Most of them sleep on the ground in a tent style hut, made from a sheet or tarp (if it's available). They wear the same clothes you and I would wear, mostly shorts or jeans and t-shirts...sometimes you see shirts you recognize as American.
Juli vrotney - January 26th, 2013 at 5:55 PM
Thanks for being brave.
Rachael @ the HELD blog - January 26th, 2013 at 11:29 PM
Ah, I've read through most of the comments (took me a while!) and didn't see one like this, so wanted to ask it... {but I might forget to check for replies... will you email me? or visit my blog?}

How does a brave{ish} daughter honour not-so-brave-ish parents? My parents love Jesus and love me, but are not keen for me to... uh, jump into all the BIG dreams I have. I want to travel, and do Bible college overseas. I want to teach in other nations. I want to adopt. Life dreams for this 19 year old, but I'm just staying here, at home, studying because it's 'safe' and 'happy'. I don't want to hurt my family and I love them dearly, but how can I be brave without breaking them, or their hearts... or me?

Blessings,
Rachael
heldbyhishand@gmail.com
Michael Harkins - January 27th, 2013 at 3:50 PM
Rachael: Based on what you wrote, it sounds like you are honoring your parents wishes which is good. I recommend that you pray that God will give you and your parents revelation into what His plans are for your destiny. Be blessed, Michael Harkins
Dawn - January 27th, 2013 at 6:24 PM
Jen,
Can you explain your use of the word "precious"? Am I missing out on an inside joke that your regular readers are in on? I thought precious meant treasured, valued, important? It sounds like an insult from you way you and many commenters are using it! Just curious what I am missing here?! Throw me a clue!

Also, just wanted to point out that that bravery and courage can look very different on different people. I am a momma to biological and adopted kids, backgrounds and levels of experienced trauma vary greatly among my little ones. (I gather your story is similar as well)?

My thought is that my kids will be brave when they choose to love with the love of Christ, without regards for what it might cost them, or the pain that it might bring. This is the risk that I hope and pray I can convince them is worth taking. Whether they prefer to be outside all day in jimmy-rigged treehouse forts fighting off ninja's without an inch of skin poking through the dirt, or whether they prefer to be snuggled up close to home writing in their homemade storybook. They each have beautiful temperaments, hand-woven by their heavenly father.

Whether the parenting style you find yourself embodying the most is more on the protective side, or more on the laid-back side, I believe we are all ok, because we can all teach our children to love with great courage.
- January 28th, 2013 at 8:46 AM
Allison - January 28th, 2013 at 12:38 PM
THANK YOU!!!! Again, Jen you hit it right on the head!
I try to tell this to my friends all the time! I am not going to purposefully put my children in a situation that is going to harm them or allow them to be exposed to things that I myself would not expose myself to, but golly jeez I am not going to put them in a bubble where they see no bad or hear no bad...then how will they know what is bad? How will they know what is evil and be able to stand up to it if they don't know how to fight it? One time my friend said that she wouldn't allow her children see the first part of Finding Nemo where the fish died because she didn't want her kids to be exposed to death. Okay, well my mom passed away when my son was almost four. She is in our lives every day...I was forced to face death and so was my son. Now he knows that death is sad because we miss our loved ones, but happy because they are with Jesus.

Please parents, stop sheltering them from all that is bad in this world...you are not doing them any good!
Keli D - January 28th, 2013 at 2:46 PM
My tiny tidbit to add: I believe that the way our kids turn out also has to do with where they fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Part of this is genetic. Introverts naturally tend to take less risks than extroverts. I agree that kids should be allowed the option to take risks, of course. My daughter is the risk taker & my son is more bookish and sensitive, and I am okay with that. Have you ever seen Susan Cain's TED Talk? It does a great job at pointing out that sensitive introverts can yield just as much power as extroverts.

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=c0KYU2j0TM4&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dc0KYU2j0TM4

Erin - January 28th, 2013 at 8:01 PM
My son is 2 1/2 and his greatest joy is to show me how dangerous he can be. He can swiftly climb to the top of the 8ft high climbing wall at the playground and run down for another go. He is wired for adventure and I would do him a disservice to parent this out of him.

My parents encouraged my adventure from a young age and of course times were different then. I could ride my bike around town alone at 8 years old. Now that I'm a parent of 3, I went back and asked my mom how she let me do that?! She said she of course worried, but she also prayed a lot. I thank my parents who continued to pray and trust in God's plan for my life as I traveled to 20 countries in early adulthood and moved to one of the most densely populated cities in the US where I raise my family.

I will encourage my kids to be brave trusting that God's sovereignty is greater than all the danger and evil they will encounter.
Sharon Dixon - January 28th, 2013 at 10:32 PM
I have one boy , that had four guy friends, the drove golf balls through home windows, jumped on a couch sending through a large picture window, they paint balled my Caravan until it looked like a golf ball, and always gave me sweet hugs and tons of love. Yes boys are surprising, loving and fun.
Thanks for the post
Heather - January 29th, 2013 at 1:06 PM
Very well written! Thank you for the encouragement and reminder to be "a brave mom raising brave kids".

My parenting philosophy: From the day my babies are born into my hands, it is my job to learn how to let go of them more and more every day until I am no longer needed, just wanted.

It is a difficult task to say the least and often I find myself unaware of holding onto the reins to tightly. But it is the wisdom of my kids that push the boundaries of their independence and remind me that it is time to let out a little more life line.

Jeniece Harris - January 30th, 2013 at 4:21 PM
I relate completely. My little one is only 10 months, but I already am doing things "wrong" according to a lot of my friends, fam. There are too many dont's in my opinion. I love that you want your kids to be wild and free, to risk a little. It is SO healthy.

Thanks for being a mom I can relate to. I am reading your book, and I have finally felt a connection. Sounds ridiculous. But your thoughts/way of life/sass is very close to mine, and I have always felt like I am not pure, girly,precious, _____ enough...like other christian moms are (they probably aren't, but that's a whole nother comment) All that to say, thanks for inspiring and empowering me- to let my sassy self make moves for the kingdom, even if it looks way different.

XO
Andy K - January 30th, 2013 at 9:38 PM
Thank you! We need more brave mommies and daddies! This is a book that needs to be written. I think it would sell VERY VERY well. Keep it real and bring the heat.
alayna - January 31st, 2013 at 11:41 PM
I LOVE this! So glad I am not alone! Sometimes I think I'm crazy because my husband is more the practical, safety-minded one. The net on our trampoline got ripped from too many wrestling-type body slams into it. The neighbor child actually just went all the way through it one day - luckily he was ok and the child of a single dad, so I wasn't too concerned he'd flip out. So, I decided it was actually more dangerous with the net. And a few years later, I was the one saying, "Wouldn't it be fun to jump from the trampoline into the above ground pool?" And when we get a big cardboard box in the mail, I'm the one who first suggested they cut it up and slide down the stairs on it. And I'm the one who got a rope ladder so they could climb the huge tree in our front yard. I'm always asking, "what else could we do? How about if we try this?" My husband asked me if I'm just determined to injure or kill our kids. And I told him, "No. I just want them to enjoy being kids while they can." It's a beautiful thing! And I loved the part about praying to make them dangerous - my 3 boys aren't often scared at night, but my daughter sometimes is - I'll use that next time with her. Thanks for sharing!
Shelley - February 1st, 2013 at 5:04 PM
I love this post! So rare to find parents who don't have to have everything safe!! My son is 8 and slept outside in his friend's barn alone!! Won a bet from his friend's Dad that they would sleep outside on the porch without coming in. They were so proud of themselves. One day we won't be there to protect every little move so we have to start preparing them to be brave and take risks. After all I don't want him 20 and safely sitting in our house scared to get out there and take on the world! We just read Bear Gryllis book what a life of adventure and daring. Safe what a way to miss out!
Marcy - February 3rd, 2013 at 12:19 PM
An overprotective mom here who is ready to let my birdies fly. I'm going to step out onto "dangerous" ground to follow what God has planned for me, AND to be an example that our safety is really not the issue in this life. We go through struggles whether we are playing "safe" or not. I love your example of praying that God makes us dangerous enough to keep the devil away. Only, I think that being that dangerous makes the spiritual battle that much more intense because we are dangerous. thus, we need to be prepared and armed. Well written and speaks to my soul, Jen. Your book 7 has really changed my perspective on a lot of things. Going to write one myself. Yay!
Emily - February 3rd, 2013 at 9:41 PM
I'm coming to this game a little late but hope I can still get some comments:

I was all about boys being boys and wanting to encourage it, but my dear husband was not raised that way. He also has a little OCD going on so not only is he super safety-conscious, but also cleanliness-conscious. Add to that our sweet little guy is just that- an empathetic, sweet, little guy. He's not a risk taker and likes things in order. *sigh, so not like his mom!* I have literally gotten in the mud to encourage him to play and get messy but he doesn't like the mess! DH also doesn't like the baby pool (risk of drowning), him playing in the fenced backyard while I watch from inside in the kitchen (he could randomly run away), playing in the front yard (cars go too fast), etc, you see.

How do I encourage my son (nearly 4 years old) to to let go a little and how do I do it without blatantly doing something I know my husband doesn't like.

I feel so stressed about this becuase before I had kids I was sure I wasn't going to be a helicopter mom, but between his dad and I (I dont' parent perfectly either!), I feel like someone is always commenting, or guiding, or warning. Any advice for parent/parents who tend to hover and children who need to recover. ;) What's a practical way to wean from this tendency?
taylor - February 4th, 2013 at 4:25 AM
So good for me to hear as my little girl enters 1st grade and is already starting to feel "left out" because of cultural issues. And my little boy as he is in pre k and feeling sad missing me. And all in another culture, another language from their own. Everything in me wants to pull them home and homeschool. Not saying that's a bad thing, but if I do it out of fear, that is a bad thing.
Thank you for posting!
Kelli Cox - February 4th, 2013 at 12:15 PM
YES and AMEN!!!
Leslie @FarmFreshFun - February 4th, 2013 at 7:33 PM
This is my first visit here and I'm hooked. Great post. I've heard great things about your book and now I know I must find it fast!
Samantha Livingston - February 5th, 2013 at 8:56 AM
This echoes so much of the cries of my heart for my kids. Thank you thank you for preaching bravely! Reminded me of this book (not-Christian) but that deals with the topic of hyper-parenting in an informative, researched, and thought-provoking way.

http://www.amazon.com/Under-Pressure-Rescuing-Children-Hyper-Parenting/dp/0061128813/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2
Nicole L. - February 6th, 2013 at 8:58 AM
I was JUST telling my husband about all the scary movies my parents let me watch when I was little (Halloween when I was 4 years old...WHAT?!). We also used to play hide and seek in the dark, with the circuit breakers flipped so no one could cheat by turning lights on. That is one of my favorite memories from when I was little. I agree with you on the whole safety issue. It drives me crazy!
Peggy - February 7th, 2013 at 12:22 PM
I remember the day my 3rd son, twelve at the time, (one eventually of 8 sons) fell from the roof with a parachute on his "Big Action Garage". Only damage occured in both feet, amazing God we have! But I remember being scolded by the ER doc who chided me about having a ladder to the roof (we had been hanging Chriatmas lights).
I laughed to myself, do you think that is the only way to a roof if you're a boy? Our roof has an incredible gently slope, so much so, that I've been told by my sons you can ride a bike up there.
Boys have an uncanny way of thinking up things to do that you can never cover in your lists of "don't do". Case in point: I never imagined I'd have to say "no more riding your bikes up on the roof", but with 8 boys you have to.
What a fun ride they have been!!
ellen stevens - February 7th, 2013 at 1:51 PM
I love this! I've been a long-time foster parent for pre-teen boys, and long-ago buried my need for micro-mothering. We've since adopted three brothers who were beyond wild. I love the life they bring.

Reminds me of something I wrote: "Raising Gangster-Thug-Stick-Fighters" http://ellenstevens.com/2009/08/04/raising-gangster-thug-stick-fighters/
Tina - February 8th, 2013 at 1:47 PM
This is true - I can relate to this blog. Which is why about a year ago my husband and I decided to sell our home, our cars, fill a forty ft. container and move to Chile. We bought twenty-seven acres, are going to build a house, and threw our children in a totally different language for their schooling. When all the people kept telling us it would be hard, we agreed. And it's been the single hardest thing I've ever done in my life. And we're all still breathing. Why are we so afraid of hard and difficult? I think resilience is one of the characteristics most important in life. It's not just about letting our kids get dirty though. It's a lot deeper. It's trusting that God's got it covered and their lives are in his hands, not our own. It's about not being afraid of them finding their faith in God and having it look start raving different than our own and trusting God's big enough. So many of us live with deep deep fear beneath the surface - fears of the dark and yucky, fears that God won't come through so we better keep everyone inside the tent. Our micro-managing is the outward manifestation of that ...
EJ - February 10th, 2013 at 6:28 PM
HAHA We now have four kids and ya have to let go your eyeballs cannot go in all directions!! 3 boys and 1 girl and I think she maybe Braver than us all..... My kids could watch pirates of the carribean....but NOT veggie tales it scared the heck out of him, if I would say it is not real they would say yes it is based on the bible!! UGH so true ki so true so I did what any mama would do....Put Pirates of the Carribean and jumoped around like pirates for years with them!!
Meredith Cox - February 11th, 2013 at 1:09 AM
I'm late to the comment party on this one, but YAY for overcrowded trampolines, dirty, scratched-up, happy, and brave kids! Seriously. Love it.

But...

I, like a devastatingly high number of others, was a victim of childhood sexual abuse from the ages of 4-7 (my oldest is only a few precious months away from this birthday, so it's fresh on my mind). My struggle is with wanting to give my children the space I didn't feel growing up while still providing shelter. How do I use God's wisdom in parenting without trying to put myself in His place?

I know that God redeems all things and uses them for our good, but I sometimes can't bear the thought of the guilt I would feel if either of my precious daughters had to experience the same kind of redemption I have. I'm not a fan of media sensationalism and I don't think everyone is out to corrupt or hurt my children, but the fear and firsthand knowledge of sexual abuse is hard to shake.

Anyone lived through this one? Help a sista out.
Rose - February 11th, 2013 at 2:34 PM
My 10 year old son told me the other day that being a man was about lighting things on fire and blowing things up. To him, at 10, it may very well be. But what he doesn't know is, that I find it far more manly when he takes care of his responsibilities and cares enough to wipe his feet when he comes in from his adventures. Grandpa just taught him how to sharpen his own pocket knife and sharpened twigs litter my patio. That is manly to him now, but to me, it's more manly that his little sister feels safer when he's around because despite her "differences" he won't let anyone (besides him) pick on her. He knows all about gun safety and works on gunsmithing with my husband. I'm sure that feels manly to him now. But it's so much more manly when he is thoughtful and puts his own money in the collection at church.

The lessons learned with dirt and tools go far beyond the simple. And I am so proud of my brave little man.
sara vestal - February 11th, 2013 at 8:31 PM
I'm new to your blog. I have a two year old and an 8 month old. Both boys. I LOVE THIS. I felt like you were talking to me :) Thank you!
Sara S. - February 13th, 2013 at 4:54 PM
My oh my how I needed this one, I know I am a little late to the party but I am so glad I came! My number one biggest battle is FEAR...just name something and I have probably feared it. Which makes it a little radical that I am choosing to raise my kids in a highly dangerous third world country where often the headline of the local newspaper has something to do with some killing or kidnapping or rape, etc. I get my panties on a was on a number of occasions each week. But, I LOVE your line about how Brave Moms raise Brave kids. I want to show them a brave mama...well except maybe when I had to jump on a chair screaming last week because there was a rat in my kitchen. Nobody really expects me to be brave then right?!
Sara S. - February 13th, 2013 at 5:07 PM
My oh my how I needed this one, I know I am a little late to the party but I am so glad I came! My number one biggest battle is FEAR...just name something and I have probably feared it. Which makes it a little radical that I am choosing to raise my kids in a highly dangerous third world country where often the headline of the local newspaper has something to do with some killing or kidnapping or rape, etc. I get my panties on a was on a number of occasions each week. But, I LOVE your line about how Brave Moms raise Brave kids. I want to show them a brave mama...well except maybe when I had to jump on a chair screaming last week because there was a rat in my kitchen. Nobody really expects me to be brave then right?!
Linda - February 15th, 2013 at 10:51 AM
As a mother of boys, I'm with you! Although I come from a family of 3 girls and my husband from a family of 10 (7 girls vs 3 boys), I really wanted boys (and God heard and agreed). Might have been all the remarks I've heard over the years about girls being so much harder to raise. Don't know how true that is since I haven't raised any girls, but my boys have certainly provided a life of adventure!
P.S. How to I register to get your blog in my inbox? Or does this response accomplish that? Reading your book "7 . . . " and enjoying it tremendously. As I sip on my 2nd cup of coffee, I'm contemplating when to start/modify the challenge for myself.
Janine - February 16th, 2013 at 3:47 PM
When we were adopting a teen boy I was asked. 'Did you think of your daughter?' Yes the evil one reminded me often what could happen if I was obedient to God's call. God doesn't call us to safe quiet lives. He calls us to suffer with the orphan, defend the widow and fatherless, feed the hungry and cloth the naked. To do those things you have to suffer, get dirty and spend your wealth. How will my kids ever be ready for God's call to the hard stuff if the most difficult thing they have faced is not getting the movie of their choice on Friday night? When we take our kids to go feed the homeless so many of my friends queastion the saftey of my kids. I think they are in more danger not going. How will they have compassion if they never see pain? It has been a journey to get to brave mom status and there are still days I struggle but God is faithful not to leave me to died in comfort.
Felicity - February 16th, 2013 at 5:00 PM
Great stuff!

I live in Australia and we also have succumbed to the I-want-my-kids-to-be-safe-so-I-will-protect-them-from-life's-challenges mindset. Some of us challenge it and I know, as my kids have grown up, that other parents have thought my husband and I a bit neglectful for allowing our kids to do things other kids aren't allowed to do.

But here's the thing: taking risks not only makes us brave but also makes us feel like competent, capable human beings. This is, of course, where self-esteem comes from. I am currently studying psychology and the evidence is mounting that this kind of cotton-wool parenting breeds anxious kids because it breeds kids who fear everything and have no confidence in their ability to deal with challenges and difficulties. This is scary stuff.

Thanks for your post.
Erica - February 17th, 2013 at 10:28 PM
LOVE THIS!!! My 9 year old son has been the epitomy of dangerous since he came out of the womb. I have always had a sense of "this is ok" about the crazy things he gets into, but always felt a little shunned by relatives wanting his father and I to practice a little more smuther...I mean sheltering:) So last summer he tells me that he is going to the woods behind our house. My only instruction was that if he saw a snake to leave it alone and come and get me. Well about 10 minutes later, he comes up to the porch carring what looked like a 4-5 ft. dead snake. I said, "what happened!!!" And I will always love him for what he said next. He said, "MOM, I was scared to death, but I had to act on it!!!" And in that moment I knew he was being EXACTLY who God created him to be. The warrior inside of him was unleashed and launched an all out epic battle against that snake. And the snake lost and Mama was proud. Once all the pics were taken and the craziness settled I started thinking about those words he said. The words "I had to act on it" resignated with me for a while and I realized that yes, in fact he did HAVE to act on it b/c it was hard wired in him to be that hunter, that protector, that dangerous little boy who will by God's grace grow to be a Brave warrior for the Kingdom! So yes, I totally agree with brave parenting and dangerous kids! One day I'm pretty sure they will thank us for it!! :)
Christie - February 18th, 2013 at 12:00 PM
One thing I never imagined myself saying to one of my four boys:
"Don't put that turtle in your pants again."
Only boys!
Lori - February 19th, 2013 at 7:44 AM
I'm sorry, I'm not actually commenting on today's topic other than that I've literally almost watched my brave son die as he came down the side of an embankment. Father God, again literally, placed my husband in such a strategic position in which he was able to catch the large 7 year old in such a way that neither were even injured other than a scraped knee. I cried after it happened, then again at dinner (we were on vacation) as I realized the outcome should have been very different. I knew that day that our Abba had my boy and his fate in His loving hands and to not beat myself up for allowing him to climb and navigate those amazing tree roots. I would let him do it again, although taking more care as to how he should come down from said embankment! The two girls...simply walked around the large tree and came down the steps. Go figure!
Ok, so I did comment on today's topic. But I really came to Jen's blog to tell her that we bought the book 7 this weekend. I didn't mean to start reading it to my kids (girls 13 & 10, boy 9), it just happened. They won't let me stop reading to them. We finished the intro and chapter 1 on food. My family landed on the floor in our kitchen asking Father God how we are supposed to live, and all three of my children (2 youngest are adopted - full siblings) asked, if it is His will, that we can adopt one or more orphans. The boy really wants it to be His will that it's a boy, but he'll be ok if it's a girl. Youngest girl wants either, and oldest girls wants more than one. We have seen God move in mighty ways in our family, so we are familiar when the winds of the Holy One begin to blow and the rustling of huge things to come sound in our souls. Just wanted you to know, Jen, that your obedience to Him has influenced this family. And I am asking for your prayers if possible and for any who read these words. Many obstacles must be overcome if we are to adopt from anywhere, we've been there twice. And twice He has moved mountains. Thank you, dear Jen and your Council and your precious family. Thank you!

Danielle Hill - February 19th, 2013 at 1:01 PM
Well, I'm a little late to the convo, but just wanted to say... AMEN. I have been parenting my three boys these way for YEARS. Sometimes, I secretly wished that some of my friends would lighten up, chill out, calm down, take a chill pill, what have you. I have also secretly wondered if me and Jon were just plain crazy that these things don't get our knickers in a wad. I want all of my boys to be fighters, leaders, risk-takers, not to be afraid of the world they were created to live in and among, but to know who held their future, and be confident in their role on this journey. I'm not a huge blog reader, mainly because I disagree with half the advice that's given out there, but do keep up with you because I know how much Steph and Mark adore you. It's nice to have a kindred wild spirit of mothers out there. Oh, and Jon says hi. :)
Kerrin - February 21st, 2013 at 11:35 AM
I am giving you a one women standing ovation way up here in Canada! It is nice to know that common sense still exists in this crazy bubble wrapped world. Bravo!!
T.R. - February 22nd, 2013 at 6:33 PM
Where have you been all my child-rearing life? You are speaking what I think almost every day! The part about 70s era parenting is SO TRUE. I incorporate it into much of my parenting now and our five-year-old son is just fine, not in therapy yet. I cannot handle the precious blogs, they make my teeth itch. But it is very un-PC these day to admit you are not attached to your kids 24/7 so I keep these thoughts to myself. So glad I found your blog!
Janelle - February 24th, 2013 at 3:09 PM
oooh girl! ooooh yes yes yes. love love love! so dangerous demons flee when you enter the room. high five mom! great way to raise your boys. word up! :) my boys lay hands on the sick and pray for them to be healed. i love it!

Janelle
Jen - February 27th, 2013 at 1:33 PM
We've been encountering a lot of spiritua warfare with our current line of ministry. I feel that call-to be dangerous. I am starting to arrive at the place to teach my kids to be courageous and brave, too, instead of fearful. My mother raised me much like the 'mom' in Tangled. She said it herself, so it's not my preception. When I minister to women, i see so much fear in their eyes. If God called us to not fear (like Sarah & also like the proverbs 31 woman) then why so much of it?! I know why:) BTW-I echo the boy thing; I've got five of them & two little ladies to boot. LOVE it.
syd - February 28th, 2013 at 1:38 PM
I loved all of this post until Erwin's quote where he wanted to say demons aren't real. Yeah, they are real, BUT we don't need to be afraid of them. Throughout the Bible we are told to not be afraid. The Lord is our rock; Jesus is already victorious -- and we're on Jesus' team. No fear!

%u201CDo not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:31-33
d gable - March 5th, 2013 at 10:02 AM
Spoken like a true warrior princess!! Thank you!!
Jenn Williamson - March 8th, 2013 at 4:28 AM
I say, "Amen, Sister!" As I mom of two boys, I couldn't agree with you more. I posted similar thoughts in this post on my blog: http://fourforfrance.blogspot.fr/2012/06/what-i-dont-pray.html
Sara - March 8th, 2013 at 3:45 PM
Hi Jen. I am new to your blog and just a few posts in. This post was pretty hard for me to read in some ways.

I have one daughter. She is almost two. I let her take some risks, at least I think so, but I think you would probably consider me disgustingly precious. :( Maybe not. I think I feel judged, though.

Can I tell you why I am so earnest and precious? So careful, so scared? (I mean this sincerely and not mean.) Because I was not safe as a child. Not safe from sexual abuse, not safe from being locked in the basement all day by my babysitter, not safe from death, many father-figures, hurt, none of it. Not safe from movies I should not have seen, people I should not have been hanging out with, drugs I should not have been doing. I don't feel like a better, stronger person for it all. I feel like a really hurt, scared piece of shit a lot of the time. And even though I wish this weren't the case, that affects the way I parent my daughter. I don't want her to go through all that, and sometimes I am "overprotective." Well, sometimes I think I'm overprotective, and sometimes I think I'm just realistic about how terrible the world really is, and I think it's okay to protect her from some of that til she's older. I guess I just want to say that maybe some of us scared parents are hurt parents, so maybe be a little sensitive to that?

Also, I just want to suggest that the ability to be "brave" and "free range" has some correlation to being "privileged." For me and all the other parents living on the south side of Chicago, well, it's not as easy for us to be "free range" because the "free range" includes a lot of gang territory and dead kids and prostitution, not far away, not even like miles away, but like right here. I would let my daughter run around outside too if we had a big yard with a trampoline in a nice neighborhood. But we live in an apartment building and I hear gunshots occasionally at night, and so yeah, we're not very free range.

I mean it that I say this with love. And not meanness. I just have to admit that after reading what you wrote, I felt like, "That's great that you have the privilege of being brave." I'm not saying that nothing bad has ever happened to you. I'm just saying...try not to judge my preciousness. I only baby my baby because I remember what it was like to feel like no one gave a poo about me or my safety.

Kim - March 20th, 2013 at 11:24 AM
I'm so glad you posted this. I think too often we judge people for their parenting without knowing what has lead them to the choices they make. It's easy to come across as if one has this parenting thing figured out, and my way is the right way...on both sides of the debate. At the end of the day, we have to pray and do what we think is right. For some that is free-range, and for others preciousness...though that word seems judgmental to me. Stings a bit, to be honest.

Also, I think there are many roads to bravery. There is not one bravery formula out there. I hope my kids see me as brave as I get up each and every day, homeschool them, and also run two risky business ventures on the side. I've got a lot of grit, but it didn't come from some of the things mentioned in this post. It was from my own inner passions and drive. I was raised by a frightened, single mom. That didn't define me.

I think there is a middle ground in this debate for me. I want brave, risk taking kids, but I'm probably not going to send my kids to the woods for 5 hours. That's just me. I'm secure in my decisions. I have the choice to let this offend me, or to move forward knowing that God created a variety of parents. One isn't better than another. I'm what He created me to be. It would be nice if discussions like this didn't either validate us, or accuse us. But somehow we tend to need others to approve. I wish we could all just give each other grace for how we are wired without making the opposite of us feel like less.

BTW...not that it matters...I think you are brave for carrying on with the past you lived, and waking up determined to do better for your child. Carry on brave soldier!
Leah - December 31st, 2013 at 12:02 AM
It is so hard to convey tone on the internet, so I just wanted to leave a note and let you know that your message was spot on. It was clearly written from a position of kindness. I have the privilege of raising free-range kids and hadn't seen the argument for protectiveness stated like this before. Thank you for sharing.
Laura Cromer - March 18th, 2013 at 8:35 PM
Can I just take a minute to tell you, from a Mom of girls who have managed to live into their 20's, This type of parenting is good for girls too.
Mom, I want to climb the sycamore tree will you help me...No but I am sure you will figure it out. Next time I look the swing is slung up over the tree branch, she has on her bike helmet and knee pads but she is up in that tree. You go girl!

PS just read interrupted and 7. Loved them and I love what you are doing there in Austin.
Meredith - March 20th, 2013 at 10:52 AM
I want to echo Laura here--raise your girls to be brave, too! My oldest is physically disabled, yet has moved across the country and traveled internationally in pursuit of her dreams. This is a result of telling her to "go for it" when she was 3 and 11 and 18 years old, and boy, did I feel the disapproval. I still have people say, "Are you going to let her do that?" --as if I could ever stop her!
Rachel - March 19th, 2013 at 7:23 AM
I love this! I'm totally with you on the "gritty" parenting.
Kristin - March 19th, 2013 at 7:57 AM
Great Post! I find this type of parenting more common among moms of big families. Smaller families seem to have way more inclination to hover and worry. I think this is because need will always trump fear. I need my kids to drive. I need my kids to run in to the grocery without me while I sit in the car with one asleep. I need children who can entertain themselves outside without me so I can accomplish dinner or laundry. I need my kids to be bold and brave. I need them to be independent because there will always be another family member who needs me at that moment. I just can't have them all needy at the same time! Experience in life makes our kids bold and brave. Knowing they can do it on their own makes them successful.
Allison - March 19th, 2013 at 8:07 AM
Jen, echoing so many of the comments above, thank you for writing this. I grew up an only child, but lived next door to three boys. And I'm certainly glad for that, because now I have 3 boys of my own. Though they are still youngish (6,4, and 1) I'm learning to let them go. In fact, I often have to FORCE them to go outside for long periods of time, which breaks my heart to no end because when I was growing up I spent every single afternoon and every summer day outside, out of earshot and eyesight of my mom. And I was okay. And I know the world is a "big, bad" place but I also know that most of the "safety concerns" are overblown. I've found most of these ideas through a blog called "Free-Range Kids" from Lenore Skenazy, but have yet to see many of these ideas from Christians. I also struggle b/c as an insecure parent I feel like others MUST know better than me and usually fall into the "what are my neighbors/church friends letting their kids do?" trap. This post has given me great confidence to push them out of doors, to leave the older two alone outside, to be brave. I actually had a police officer tell my kids at a "Safety Town" seminar (the name should have kept me away, but no....I took them), to NOT PLAY ALONE OUTSIDE? What?! Why not? "Because a stranger might lure you into their car and you will NEVER SEE YOUR FAMILY AGAIN." Oh my goodness I am going to be correcting and reeducating my kids about this for months. I told them it's okay to talk to strangers, to wave to strangers, to play outside, just use common sense and don't get into a car or take something from someone you don't know. So, even in suburbia I will let my kids run loose. I'd love to live in the country, of course, away from cars and mostly away from nosy neighbors and prying eyes who will call Family Services on me, but I am where I am for now, and I will make the most of it. For now, it means taking long walks WITH my kids outside, but letting them freedom to explore with me nearby. When they are a little older, I freely plan to let them roam free.
Caila - March 19th, 2013 at 6:38 PM
THANK YOU!! I literally have tears running down my cheeks. I was raised to be brave and strong and I try to raise my own kids this way, but constantly feel guilt and pressure to be more controlling and "safe." You have given me so much hope, plus a feeling of freedom. Gosh, it's like a breath of fresh air. Thank you!
KaylinTheBrave - May 31st, 2013 at 6:43 AM
I don't have any kids, but i thank my parents for not babying me every day! Because of that, I am 18 years old, i live in my own house making my own money and building a life for myself. Because they let me have adventures and play the way a child is supposed to play; they taught me how to learn and be brave and independent.
They didn't hold my hand through everything but were there when i needed them. I'm proud of my parents for their wonderful job with my Navy sister and I.
And i've really noticed a maturity and courage difference between people who were raised like myself and they way you are raising your children and kids who never had to do anything or learn any lessons themselves.
Anonymous - May 31st, 2013 at 6:23 PM
I think of all the friends I have - and they are many -o were molested growing up and I think a little more parental attention would have gone a long way. There's a balance. Like my Dad used to say, "I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid." I see posts on Facebook along the lines of "We didn't have any of this silly safety stuff, and we're all okay!" Yeah, because all the ones who didn't make it aren't here to tell the tale.
afannarelli@gmail.com - July 1st, 2013 at 11:26 AM
Thank you for this! I am the very confused (and old) mom of a 3 year old boy. My son was born when I was 43 so I think I missed out on the evolving parenting styles and now I am at a loss. Here is one example: we were at a play date at the home of a family we know quite well. They asked me if I rather leave him there and come back to pick him up so I did. When I got back the mom and day looked at each other and said: " Where did Cicci learn to say 'dead?" me: "Dead? Not sure, probably day care, why?" them " We don't want V. to say that at our house" me "oh, sorry!". Later thinking it over I realized I wasn't t sure why I was sorry: what is wrong with saying "dead" ???? I am sure he has no idea what it means anyway and even if he did is just a part of life. Should we forbid him from saying "born" as it shoudl be just as terrible a word. This is just one example, then there is the no cookies, no ice cream, no water guns, sorry, "water shooters", no fighting (perfectly normal way to learn how to deal on your own), no horsing around... Can someone please explain this to me? Am I not politicly correct enough? I must be the worst mom EVER!!!!
Tammy - July 20th, 2013 at 8:35 AM
Thank you! I love this! I am officially a fan of your blog.

The irony of my life is that I raised my twin girls fearfully ("Be careful! Watch out! Don't take risks!") and between them they joined Fire & Rescue, ride horses, rock climb, whitewater raft, joined the Navy and fly helicopters. I raised my youngest daughter to be confident, try big things, face her fears, and she's the one who suffers from anxiety. Go figure. But this 18 year old is emotionally and socially brave where her sisters are less so; there are different kinds of bravery. I'm proud of her grit and integrity in relationships, no matter what it costs her.
Amanda - September 23rd, 2013 at 10:25 PM
Thank you Jen, for this post, and for using it in your message during the last session of dotMom this weekend. Thank you for challenging us moms to step out and be the disciples our kids need to see so that they can be the disciples they need to see. We needed to hear it, and though you didn't get a lot of cheers, I pray that lots of change in the way we parent comes out of the seeds you sowed Saturday afternoon. Generations will be better for it.
Christi Anna - October 1st, 2013 at 8:04 PM
Can't believe I'm just now reading this post! Cracking me up. I've been surrounded by boys my whole life. First with brothers, then the hubs, and now all sons. Completely out numbered. So here are my thoughts on raising boys in a 'girl power' world: http://coatsquotes.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/boys/
Marcia Hall - March 15th, 2014 at 7:33 PM
Do you have the time to read new posts? I do hope so! Jen, you have this voice and this platform, and you are hitting on a larger topic here that the Church needs. Please point me in the right direction so we don't have to re invent the wheel here, if resources exist for my rant. :-)

Yes, we need brave kids. But our youth groups, or their functional equivalents, are failing here. How do we structure youth ministry to be brave? Kids are going to take risks regardless of our efforts to bubble wrap everything. They seek danger like we adult women seek hot baths with wine :-) what I see is that the church is so busy saying 'no' and nannying that we fail to connect our kids with the biggest life risk of all: following Jesus to His logical conclusions. How do we beat the 'Jackass/Spring Break' mentality of the world, and engage our kids to risk it all for Jesus? I'm having trouble finding any resources for this, and I can't be the first one asking these questions.

We need to connect orphan ministry and disaster ministry with student ministry in a real way. Do I want my child getting malaria or disappearing in a conflicted country? No! But like Abraham and Isaac, I don't think my emotional misgivings are the driving force here. Are my kids disciples or consumers? What does that make me? How do we go from soapy trampolines in Texas to bulldozers in Gaza or tent cities in Haiti?
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