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

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."


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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Rebecca Busby - January 17th, 2013 at 10:26 AM
Jen thank you so much for this! I've always believed this, but putting it into practice is hard for me! (I have a 7, 4 1/2, & 3). I want my boys and girl to be strong and brave and to learn to figure things out without turning immediately to me for the answers. I want to protect them but I want them to be unafraid to take risks and be independent as well. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
Kelly - January 17th, 2013 at 9:24 PM
This is hard for me since I tend to want to shield my boys from the hurt of this world. I need to remember to let them grow to be real men
Jeane - January 17th, 2013 at 10:27 AM is SO GOOD to breathe in the cool, crisp air of common sense! A refreshing departure from the tepid temperatures of all this "precious" air that fills the skies under which we live. THANK YOU, lady with a backbone, for writing a solid piece.
Amy - January 17th, 2013 at 10:33 AM
Just had a convo with my fifen year old man yesterday. They had a shelter in place drill at school. Sigh. I asked him if they discussed helping the disabled or injured. Nope. I told him I would want him to be safe, but even more, I want him to be a MAN, a godly one that helps those who can't help themselves. Brave.
Sandi - January 17th, 2013 at 4:06 PM
Great mom!!
Dayna - January 19th, 2013 at 10:50 PM
Love your response Amy!
Jen K - January 20th, 2013 at 1:26 PM
As a momma of a disabled child, thank you for teaching your child to be a man!!
Bethe - January 17th, 2013 at 10:33 AM
Woah. As a first-born, type A, safety-conscious worrier who is on the verge of having my very own child in just a few months (and married to an action-adventure rebel of a man), this was good for my soul to read. And slightly terrifying. But mostly good. I do want brave kids. And I'd like them to be all in one piece.
Rebecca Busby - January 17th, 2013 at 11:22 AM
I'm a first-born type A as well and with my first child I was way over protective. In spite of all the wise advice from seasoned moms I received. I learned the hard way to let go and let him just be a kids and to learn to do things for himself and to take risks. It wasn't until baby #2 came that I was able to let go some. By the time #3 came I was in survival mode-grocery stores, libraries, church,etc. To this day, my younger two adapt more quickly and recover quicker than my own first-born type A does. I blame myself! You will do fine and will be an amazing mother! :)
Mrs. Gore - January 17th, 2013 at 10:03 PM
Whoa! We have identical stories, except I'm not a first-born. My 3rd child has COMPLETELY rocked the boat...and I think the entire family has benefited!
Julia - January 17th, 2013 at 10:34 AM
Hey Jen, up here on Whidbey Island with your good bud Becky M. Loved reading this, hated reading this. Got a 17 yr old daughter heading to college in the fall...gahhhh. Freedom one second, freaking fear the next. Pray that I will be a dangerous Mama....xo
Jennifer Main - January 17th, 2013 at 10:35 AM
Oh Jen, this is good! I struggle with this- I will try so hard to be brave...for my kids' sake:) Thanks for bringing this to my attention!
annie - January 17th, 2013 at 10:35 AM
awesome post, jen. and what's with all the bike helmets and pads? kids are wrapped up like bubble wrap just to ride their bikes. too much prep = less fun.
Melissa - January 17th, 2013 at 10:35 AM
Just wait til they start having bottle rocket wars!!! Lol boys scare the crap out of me but I can remember my dad MAKING my mom let us do "dangerous" stuff and how grateful I was that he prevailed. So I squashed down my panic and then just prayed like crazy. They are all grown now, 10 fingers and 10 toes still intact ( although one was almost cut off with big brothers hunting knife....but that's another story) and I'm gathering courage to grandparent reckless boys AND girls. Can't wait.....
Ashley - January 17th, 2013 at 10:37 AM
AMEN! My husband and I are missionaries smack dab in the middle of the Amazon Jungle... I couldn't worry about playing it safe if I wanted to!

Love this post.
Darla - May 1st, 2013 at 8:16 AM
Love it!
Jennifer - January 17th, 2013 at 10:39 AM
This is so counter to the way I was raised but I feel the rightness of it to my core. I remember that my mom would make me hold her hand in stores and would literally say to me that if I let go a mean man would take me away and no one would know where I was and he would do bad things to me and I would never see her again. Yeah, talk about having to overcome fear issues! But, you know what? I have. Through realizing how powerful God's love is and that his "protection" has a different definition. My kids are going to get hurt. They will cry and bleed and someday they will die. God's protection just means that none of that will be the end of their story.
Thanks for this awesome reminder. Here's to brave parenting!

Rhonda Cahill - January 17th, 2013 at 10:40 AM
Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you for writing this! We like to tell our kids,'YOU happen to the world. The world does not happen to you!' offensive approach to taking life by the horns and not becoming a victim.
Christina - January 17th, 2013 at 10:40 AM
You are speaking some Holy Spirit TRUTH here: "I don%u2019t want my kids safe and comfortable. I want them BRAVE. I don%u2019t 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"
Ro elliott - January 17th, 2013 at 10:41 AM
I love this...when my boys were young and they wanted to to those "dumb"boys build a ramp to they could ride their bike over a cliff into the water...I learn to defer to my first I realized I would say no...and until I got use to boys strange idea of fun...I said ask dad. I even had fun watching them do something I would have naturally said no too. I have 2 guys in there late 20...and I can say I love the strong/gentle men they are. I have one 18 yr. old who is a freshman playing basketball....he is being challenged to the max...I keep telling are getting your man card punched...just keep getting it punched so you can be the man God wants you to be. Thanks...this needs to be heard by this younger generation....where fear is becoming the rule of the day...blessing to you and your testosterone driven household.
rene - January 17th, 2013 at 10:57 AM
Love this response!
Dea - February 5th, 2013 at 4:43 PM
Ro- gonna remember the man card quip for when my boy gets used up on the football field in the fall :)
Jenny - January 17th, 2013 at 10:42 AM
I'm with you. Mostly. Sort of.

Okay, not really.

I want to be with you on a lot of these points, but our baby #1 is currently incubating, and my hormones are battling between "I want to meet you SO BADLY" and "I'm NEVER letting you out of here because even though I'm uncomfortable, I know exactly where you are at all times and you're SAFE".

I have a while to work on getting to the "Brave Mom" stage, though, so I think it'll work out. =)
Jen - January 17th, 2013 at 10:43 AM
I was raised by a very brave, God-fearing mama! I told her once after college how much I appreciated how she didn't hover over me (especially once I was in college). Her response was that she did all the raising that she could in the 18 years she had me and if it hadn't taken in those 18 years - it sure wasn't going to take when I was in college. :) Please God allow me to be woman like her when I have babies! Thanks for this post Jen!
Amy Martin - January 17th, 2013 at 10:43 AM
Amen, sister! I am focused on raising a brave girl, and almost 18 months in she climbs and growls and is generally fearless and it makes me happier than all the bows and lace in the world :)
Kat Cannon - January 17th, 2013 at 10:44 AM nice to see this! We want our children to grow up to be men and women of character and bravery, but don't want them to go through the hard stuff or take the risks that developing those traits requires. (See Romans 5:2-5). Makes me think that we moms can be more than a little self-centered in our parenting. What hurts them hurts us and we don't want to be hurt even if a little pain is what is best for them. Thanks for putting this in words and out on the blogosphere....
Wendee - January 17th, 2013 at 10:44 AM
I don't have kids...wish I did, but don't :( But if I did have them, I wonder if I would behave as bravely as Jen.

I admit, even as a single, childless woman, I wonder about the wisdom of parents who let their kids walk to school by them self, in this day and age of pervs. When I drive through a school zone and see all the little ones with their Spiderman and Disney princess backpacks on...walking by them self! Yikes!!! And I think to myself: 'I didn't realize that parents ALLOWED their kids to do that anymore, even in 'good areas' ???!!!'. I think I'd be driving mine up to the door...I mean, UP TO THE DOOR...Not just in front of the building! lol

So, this will be an interesting blog to watch to see how those of you with the kiddos respond. *Maybe one day I'll adopt, and then have something to draw from...bless me with your wisdom parents!
Elizabeth - January 20th, 2013 at 11:57 PM
I bet every parent who sends their child off by themselves to school thinks about these things. I do. But I also make a conscious choice that I don't want to live in a world so governed by fear. We live in the safest time and place EVER in the history of humanity. But, we also have access to news about every. single. horrible thing that happens in the world. I think that has warped our perception of danger. I think it is important to let kids walk to school by themselves. It's important for the community to hear their silly conversations, watch out for them as they walk past their homes, laugh at/be annoyed by their noise and mess. I think it's important for our kids to feel competent and brave - when my 7 year old started walking home alone he was SO PROUD of himself. He loved it. The chances of him being hurt or abducted in the 2.5 blocks to our house are so incredibly small. Infinitesimal even. I won't let that infinitesimal possibility stop us from living a life worth living. I think it's important for parents to trust their children and trust the world around them enough to let their kids live in it. Really, it's not as scary as it sounds. It's rather empowering and so awe inspiring to watch them make a place for themselves, to see that they matter to people and places around them, and to claim them for their own.

Crystal - January 17th, 2013 at 10:46 AM
Oh I love it! I have girls and we are almost the same way. I love to let my kiddos be free and adventurous! Nothing like a little girl in a skirt building a fort out of scrap wood with her sister, covered in dirt and having a blast! I want my kids to look back on their childhood and want to do it again!
Lauren Alexander - January 17th, 2013 at 10:48 AM
I feel so much better right now. Preschool Moms be judgy, you know!
Heatha - January 17th, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Christy - January 17th, 2013 at 10:49 AM
I always love your posts & insight, Jen...but here's my struggle: how do you balance instilling safety in children who've lived/experienced trauma and who NEED safety, but who also need to learn how to spread their wings in courage? I struggle with this as both an adoptive mama of older children (7 & 5, home 1 year) and as a child who was granted all these 'freedoms' as a child and who was victimized by a neighborhood pedophile repeatedly. I don't want my children to live in fear, but my life experience tells me that I need to do a better job of protecting them than my parents did for me. Beyond prayer, how do you find balance?
Jen Hatmaker - January 17th, 2013 at 1:50 PM
I think there is a marked difference between raising kids in a courageous way and raising them foolishly. Recklessness and irresponsibility belong in a different category. ALL kids need correct boundaries, but within those, we can still choose to let the chips fall, let them pay for their mistakes, let them try something that's not guaranteed, let them flounder and struggle through something. And it's also how we talk to them: are we constantly making them fear the world? Fear people? Fear new situations? Fear failure? If our little snowflakes are afraid of their own shadow, we've instilled that. So we don't send them into predators' arms or walking on ten-story scaffolding...but we let them live and we cheer them on.
Hilde - January 18th, 2013 at 1:57 AM
Thank you for this response! Being an older mama, I was reading this blog as an extreme, and now understand you better. Whew! Wish you could include this as a "P.S." at the bottom? :)
lacey - January 19th, 2013 at 10:43 AM
I am glad you shared this additional comment as well, Jen. Having been not sheltered enough in my early years I went through many dangerous scenarios and, though I know God protected me, I felt like my mother was unbelievably naive, selfish and unloving for not preparing me better. A good balance is to not hide our children from life but to enable them. I have two kids of my own. Being a volunteer for inner-city ministry and also for a human-trafficking aid organization, and with my own experiences in mind, we cannot be blind to what surrounds us in our own backyards. We can't ignore our responsibility to protect our kids while preparing them for flight. Putting our children at extremely high risk and preparing our children for high risk are two different things. Their risk-taking needs to be done with our involvement until we are no longer responsible for them. Children in our neck of the woods are being raped, sold, given meth candy, abducted, abused by our neighbors, lured into gangs, on and on. And I did not say in our country, I said in our neck of the woods. As in, our neighborhood. On our block. In suburbia. So do I prepare my kids for what they will face? Absolutely. I would be a cruel animal not to. But do I send them out to play in the woods for hours alone? No freaking chance. I've found the remains of cult sacrifices and I know of the close-living perps and pimps. Would a mother of toddlers say that God will protect her kids if He wants to and let them play with a drawer of knives? I think not. So how could I tell myself that my kids need to learn bravery and that God will protect them and then send them out to be "dangerous" among real threats that they are not old enough to handle on their own? Wise does not equal naive. Thanks for your response above. I agree with Hilde, would be helpful to see it added on!
Pidgen - January 24th, 2013 at 1:07 PM
Jen, would you consider writing a post on how to set those safety boundaries. I grew up in a neighboorhood where the chances of getting raped or mugged were HIGH. I was very sheltered and was not allowed to play at the playground alone. Even in my very small town now, one parent let their daughter play at a playground only to find out that there was a perv there who was forcing his daughter to do things ... and then the parent got upset at "society". My mind was reeling, what was he doing letting his daughter play at a place where others were?! I'm assuming that you teach your children to respect their space and to keep their space safe - but you do it without instilling fear. I know it would be a great benefit to see some of these things written out. Especially for those of us who have a "knowledge" of what is out there but don't want to instill unhealthy fear. Thanks.
Rachel - January 31st, 2013 at 8:38 PM
I too, am always looking for 'balance' in my decisions - especially with parenting. I'm not an expert with my oldest being just 2 1/2 - BUT I do believe that we will always, constantly, gloriously be struggling for this elusive 'balance'. If we found it, we would not continue to always, constantly, gloriously seek and search after God's own heart. If we found the 'balance' we would be content, and under the illusion of control (which I am much of the time already!). Love the unrest in your hearts, sisters, it is what pulls us always, constantly, gloriously closer to Him!
April - January 17th, 2013 at 10:53 AM
Couldn't agree more! Just the other day my husband took our 15 year old son out to learn to drive a stick, at night, on the the streets of Port-au-Prince. I can't think of more dangerous place to learn how to drive. LOL.
Teresa - January 17th, 2013 at 10:59 AM
Loved this! Raised our kids this way. I think reading Wild at Heart by Eldredge when they were young really helped.
Nate S. - January 25th, 2013 at 10:04 AM
Yes! I second this! Eldredge's books Wild at Heart and The Way of the Wild Heart are fantastic help in understanding how to teach kids to be dangerous instead of teaching them our fears.
Claudette Wood - January 17th, 2013 at 11:02 AM
Oh, girl, I like you! Thanks for sharing this. Seriously, thank you.
Leslie - January 17th, 2013 at 11:02 AM
You spoke on this at the DotMom Conference back in September. It spoke to me then and does again now. Such truth, we have to be BRAVE to teach our kids to be BRAVE. Jesus is in control, come what may I want to be a fighter for him!
Stephanie C - January 17th, 2013 at 11:04 AM
Thank you for this! I am a huge believer that "failure" is an option. Our kids need to experience failure. Parents these days want everyone to receive a trophy, even the team that didn't win one single game. While that is all nice and good, when our children get out into this deep dark world and have to get a job and fend for themselves, they are going to wonder why they didn't receive a raise when they just barely performed at work. Experiencing failure now will teach them that they need to work hard for what they earn....they are not just entitled to it. So give the kids on the winning team the trophy and give the rest a nice pat on the back and tell them good try, but practice harder next season.

And another pet peeve - parents who do the work for the kids. Kids have a project to do and show up at school to see these projects perfectly displayed, obvious it was not done by a 2nd grader. Parents - let your kids earn their own grades. Yes, you can help them, provide guidance and supervise the use of power tools, but let them do it. Let the project have flaws, because when they receive the grade, they will know that they earned it. And what are you gonna do - go to college with them so you can do their research paper?

The last thing I want is for my kids to be helpless in life.....equip them now so you can rest easy later!
Sara - January 17th, 2013 at 11:05 AM
"Is he%u2014quite safe?"

"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver "Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

- CS Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Heather - January 17th, 2013 at 11:08 AM
Great post, nice reality check for some of us. I teeter on the fence with this...I want my kids to be brave and strong, but not mangled and broken from the very world I want them to explore and embrace. I am pretty overprotective, because of my own life experiences - and can see where this has caused my oldest to not be feerless, independent but not fearless! So torn after reading this. Such a thought provoking post, thanks!!
Jennifer - January 17th, 2013 at 11:14 AM
Love this post and I try to find balance between letting go and freaking out daily :) But to the post about helmets and an ER nurse, I can tell you those are a good idea. They were developed in hindsight...AFTER children suffered brain damage or death from just doing kid things like riding bikes. Just think, cars used to not have seatbelts and we used to put our infants in little buckets on the floorboard (per my mother). There's a difference between brave and reckless. I think you can teach your kids to be brave but also take precautions against preventable, unneccesary bodily harm :)
RuannM - January 17th, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Jennifer - exactly what I wanted to say, but don't need to because you said it perfectly:)Being irresponsible and lacking prevention is not the same as "letting go" and teaching bravery. That said, I think this post is fabulous and so thought-provoking. We need disciples who are "soldiers" for Christ in this culture!
Bianca - January 17th, 2013 at 11:14 AM
From one non-precious mom to another, I say AMEN!
Colleen - January 17th, 2013 at 11:14 AM
We were just talking to our daughter last week about her "safety prayers" that she likes to offer up. She's our first-born, and not-so-brave (as opposed to our wild fourth child, who just this instant walked in and told me he almost killed a squirrel with his nerf crossbow...he's 5). I wish I would have had a number so I could have told her that safety was #14 on the priority list. :) We then proceeded to tell all of our kids that safety isn't really taught as a kingdom priority. God may ask them (or us) to do some crazy-sounding, dangerous stuff for His name's sake. We haven't heard the "safety prayer" since, but I'm sure she still prays it silently in her bed at know...just in case.
I love this post...thanks for writing it.
Vickie - January 17th, 2013 at 11:15 AM
Shout it little sister! My oldest daughter would like her three littles to be wrapped in bubble wrap, inside a concrete bunker far away in a little house in the mountains. And that's about what she's got. And I have three grands who are so afraid of the big wide world that they can literally barely walk down the street holding my hand. Life is hard, scary, dangerous and, wait for it... WONDERFUL! Thanks for raging against the fear!
Jay W - January 17th, 2013 at 11:19 AM
As a Single mother of three boys, I like to think I give my boys a fair amount of freedom to experience life and all it has to offer, but after reading this I am convinced I hold on a tad too tight. This was inspiration at it's best, and I have a little work to do with letting go and letting them see hurt and obstacles and finding their own way around them. Thank you so much for this.
Kelly @ Love Well - January 17th, 2013 at 11:21 AM
I'm starting the slow clap here. Bravo!

Last week, I sent my two-year-old son to look for his nine-year-old brother. "Go find Connor," I said, which was a rough translation of "Please leave me alone for two seconds so I can finish cleaning up the kitchen without you unloading the dirty dishes for me." And he picked up his plastic ninja sword (Remy would love our house) and said, "GO FIGHT CONNOR!" And off he went, brandishing that sword for all he's worth.

That's what I want him to do. Take that enthusiasm and bravery to the world, boy. It needs you.

I have two girls too, and this is stuff they need as well. Bravery, not fear.
holly - January 17th, 2013 at 11:21 AM
We are doing this tough, unsafe parenting thing now with our 16 yr old. He loves, LOVES hardcore, scream as loud as you can and say it's a song music. Not my thing, and the scene in which it's played not mine either. I don't get it, but he does. And the truth is that a lot of what he is listening to is straight scripture (not that you can understand it). Anyway.. a lot of the kids who come to these concerts are ROUGH, not the typical baptist kids he usually associates with having a baptist pastor as a dad. But, he flourishes there. He loves to be rough, slam dance (whY??), and yell with those guys. And when I go (because I'm the only cool mom in this area apparently- or uncool depending on how you look at it), I get to see him being a real friend to those who are often outcast. But boy, I've had to put aside my fears. I know a lot of those kids drink, drug and all kinds of other things that scare me. I know it because my own son did those things too at one time. But because he's lived that, he has even more of an "in" with them, and i'm completely proud at how he accepts and loves them where they are. Pretty incredible lesson for this mom...
THanks for this post.
~Karrilee~ - January 17th, 2013 at 11:23 AM
Oh My Heart! I am in that season of letting go... my one and only - my precious girlie - is nearing graduation and will be moving out for college in just a few short months. I laughed out loud at the reference to parents of the 70's, and one of my favorite commercials, but I also teared up remembering that I wish I would have done some things differently! I purposed to raise a girl in faith, not in fear (as I was raised) - but I never once really WANTED her to be at risk - so rarely encouraged her to TAKE risks. I am reading a book that goes along with this post quite nicely in that both challenge me in a way that makes me know that not only do I want my daughter to be Brave... I need a little of that in my own life as well! Thank you for the reminder! (The book is titled "Kingdom Journeys" by Seth Barnes)
Sarah Bessey - January 17th, 2013 at 11:29 AM
Holy sweet 8lb 14oz baby Jesus, YES. Yes. Yes. So thankful for your voice in my life.
Elise - January 17th, 2013 at 11:29 AM
So, so good! My husband and I have two young boys, 4 & 2, and I'm already trying to prepare them (and prepare myself to let them) to be brave and bold and courageous boys. Loved reading this!
lindsey - January 17th, 2013 at 11:33 AM
I just love this so so much. We just found out that we're expecting our third boy. And it's more than likely our last child. People have looked at me funny because I have been totally OK with 3 Boys. But I love their adventure. Their rough and tumble. The way they laugh when they fart. I just love it. (Although I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that I do wish I could pad my walls... my sheet rock may not make it through 3 boys). We ate dinner with some friends who also have all boys the other night. And she said "I just hope that they never are involved in contact sports of any kind." I'm pretty sure crickets chirped with my blank stare expression. I wanted to say " I can't wait till they can, because at least then it will be appropriate for them to hit, throw and tackle things/people without getting warnings of how we have to respect property. Ha! Thank you for these truths. My prayer for my boys always has been and always will be that they will be brave warriors for Jesus. I pray that I can exhibit bravery for them well.
Kim - January 17th, 2013 at 11:35 AM
I am the troop leader, if you will, of my daughter's pony club (an international organization--think 4H but with only horses) and at a meeting of our parents last weekend found myself saying, "The really great thing about pony club is that it will let your child fail. If your child screws up, you can not bail her out. You're not going to be allowed anywhere near her in competitions. Whatever she does, she has to own."
Erin - January 17th, 2013 at 11:53 AM
This is just what I needed to read today. My beautiful first born just accepted a position to teach in Haiti. She is all of 18 years old and is crazy in love with Jesus. She will be getting on a plane in a few weeks, and I suppose I should be freaking out, but I'm not. God has clearly shown in several ways that this is where He wants her. And as much as I love her, I know He loves her more. I trust Him with her. Not surprisingly, there are some who are questioning our judgement as parents for not only allowing this path, but actually encouraging it. However, my ambition for my children is not that they live safe, comfortable lives. I want them to live like Jesus.
Cindy Battles - January 17th, 2013 at 11:59 AM
Ah yes! Once my cousin and I were reliving old childhood memories and his new wife exclaimed "WHERE WERE YOUR PARENTS?" (The answer, in the house) I owned a motorcycle, a pocket knife and a BB gun (yes, I'm a girl). One particular favorite story of my children is when my cousin and I, bored with our usual play, took the small fireworks and matches out into the woods with our Star Wars figurines. We only meant to create sound effects...but have you ever seen what a firecracker will do to Chewbacca?! Not to give anyone ideas or anything but it was AWESOME. The chores we had to do to repay our parents for the cost of the destruction wasn't as awesome but totally worth it! And the lesson, adventures are fun and can be take responsibility like a man (or a woman) and you make memories that last a life time.

I've parented my children the same way. My daughter is preparing to go on a year long mission trip before she goes to college. My son plans to be a fire fighter. So proud of them!
Kristin Kraabel - January 17th, 2013 at 12:02 PM
I so was sure I was going to have 5 boys. I love them too! I have two girls and although they want nothing to do with knives or forestry they are loving leaving to shoot guns and help me with the car. They always beg, Tell us the dangerous story. The one when Men chased you to try to hurt you and God gave you a way out. They don't want princess stories they want stories of danger, mystery and then bravery. They also are the only kids that go to the park alone in our neighborhood. Thank you for your post. Important to let kids be kids :)
Tsh Oxenreider - January 17th, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep. And every time I write about this, I get parents who point out all these statistics about how the world is a more dangerous place. The U.S. is the SAFEST it's ever been in 30 YEARS. It's because we're bombarded with all the information, all the time.

It REALLY is safe. At least, when it comes to abductors and stuff. Raising boys is dangerous as &$(@*, but I love mine something fierce, boyness and all.

Have you read Free-Range Kids? It's pretty much my manifesto. Here's the author's blog, if you haven't:

Hope you're doing well! Say hi to Austin and Magnolia for me.

Valerie - January 17th, 2013 at 12:08 PM
I love how if you read Jen's blog an hour after she posts it, you're like the 80th comment. :) My sister-in-law bought us a book for Christmas called 50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do. I was so happy to get it because I knew it was just the kind of thing I needed as a *precious* first-time mom with a *precious* two-year-old boy. Kind of like this blog was just what I needed, too. Helping my son inherit "brave" is something I really want and have purposed to do. Easier said than done for me. Taking Jen's impassioned, (hilarious), true points to heart is going to help me stay sensitive to God's leading in this area. (It's embarrassing to laugh and choke back tears simultaneously in the salon chair, but it was worth it to take the time to read this.)
Lundie - January 17th, 2013 at 12:12 PM
I was raised in that parallel/Christian (almost cult-like) world, and am pretty darned fearful. Thanks for the challenge to look for ways to be brave myself, as I know for a fact that that kind of bravery trickles down to the kids...
Jen - January 17th, 2013 at 12:14 PM
two days ago, our boys (9 year old twins) came back into the house after exploring our new neighborhood. "mom! we found an old house, that no one lives in. when we tried to go in the front door we saw lots of holes in the walls like some put treasure there. but it was dark, so we couldn't see in them."

my response, "boys, have you ever heard the word trespassing?"
my husband, "here, use this flaslight."

God, thank you for making our wiring so different and so complimentary. thank you for spirits that are adventurous and joyful. thank you for curiosity and wonder.

Elsa - January 17th, 2013 at 4:04 PM
Love that! My husband does the same thing and I do my best to trust his judgment :)
Mindy - January 17th, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Love it from a mama who just toted a baby on one hip through the woods to bring her 4 yr old and 7 year old machetes to build their forts! Don't panic they were dull!

I love the last quote - I want you to be so dangerous that demons flee! Amen!!!
Molly - January 17th, 2013 at 12:22 PM
My problem is that my parent's 70's style parenting, letting us run loose, left me unprotected from sexual abuse. One in four girls (at least... and I read that one in seven boys) fall prey to this. I vowed I would not let this happen on my watch. So, when I read things like this, it is the first thing I think of... I love how it sounds.... and yet, this is the "but" that I'm thinking in my head. I wish my parents had been a little more protective as my childhood "freedom" has caused painful and seemingly permanent damage... trying to make sense of how this all fits together.
Jen Hatmaker - January 17th, 2013 at 1:53 PM
I replied to a similar post up above. I think recklessness is a different thing. I (mostly) know where my kids are and have tabs on them. It's not total anarchy. But we let them LIVE and we don't talk like every person is a predator and every new circumstance is potentially life-ending. That's not how I want them to embrace this world. I need them to love this world like Jesus did so they can get out there and change it, and they'll never do that if I've convinced them that everyone is dangerous and life is terrifying. Keep them safe from harm as well as we can? Yes. Fill their heads with fear and terror? No.
J S - January 17th, 2013 at 12:24 PM
love this! thanks for the inspiration...

(i'm cool with knives and swords and guns, but just not too keen on that there machine gun picture...yes, it's a reality in today's world, but maybe i do have limits that still bother me even if i want to raise brave, unsheltered kids....)
Jen Hatmaker - January 17th, 2013 at 1:55 PM
It's not a machine gun!!! Omg. It's an airsoft gun and we have like 700 of them and approximately forty billion pellets in every nook and cranny of my house. This is one of those "boys being boys" thing that I made my peace with long ago. ;0)
Blaire - January 19th, 2013 at 2:10 PM
My house is also a victim of a 15 year old step-son, a husband with the mental maturity of a 15 year old, and 40 billion air-soft pellets. I keep waiting in anticipation for you post on how to remedy this. No remedy, you say? Giggle every time you find a rogue air-soft pellet in your underwear drawer, the toilet, or the oven, you say? Right on :)

Great post, as usual. Continue speaking truth and keep calling us out in the name of love and faith. God Bless girlfriend!
Jacoba - January 21st, 2013 at 11:48 PM
Although I love what you said here (as the mother of 4 boys), I don't love the 'omg' I see here.
nina - January 22nd, 2013 at 11:51 AM
OMG = oh my goodness.

Jen, I'm so glad you clarified that about the "machine gun" too. Too many people out there thinking that all big guns are machine guns. We live in a touchy world now days. It's actually refreshing to see a Christian that is ok with toy guns and rough boys. :) Makes my heart a little lighter today reading your post.
Amy Tilson - January 17th, 2013 at 12:24 PM
I love my scars from being brave as a kid (and adult). They are my life markers. I'm okay with getting a few mama scars, too. Without these and the experiences we have no growth, no reference, no stories! I want the same for my little guy. You inspired me to write about just that today. Thanks.
Mrs. Gore - January 17th, 2013 at 12:25 PM
I'm pretty sure I (and my blog) fit into the "precious" category...but then again, my OLDEST is in Kindergarten. :)
And I appreciate your wisdom so much.
I can be a bit of a scaredy-cat paranoid hermit, but these are things I have been waking up to in the past year - I can feel the Spirit wooing me at times to allow my 5-year old son to do things that I am slightly uncomfortable with and to refrain from saying "be careful!" (for instance:
but it is so worth it. When we go on walks through the countryside now, I let him make his own path through the woods next to us - I can see him, and I can see how small the wooded area actually is, but he thinks it is HUGE and always emerges looking older, stronger, wiser, is one of my favorite expressions to see on his face.
I am learning that the way I live is a true reflection of what I really believe - and sometimes, the way I parent makes it glaringly obvious that I don't trust God to keep us safe and to have a plan for our life. If my kids don't see my faith as genuine and my trust in God as all-consuming, then no matter how safe they are, I have failed. Definitely something to work on...
Maybe I'll be a little wild today and turn the security alarm off and raise the blinds? I don't know, though...sounds risky.
Jen Hatmaker - January 17th, 2013 at 1:55 PM
You are allowed to be Dripping Precious! Maybe no knee pads on the edge!
Vicki - January 17th, 2013 at 12:30 PM
I LOVE this and I definitely need to hear it. I'm a single mom of a 9 year old daredevil. There is a part of me that is terrified at the things he does and there is a part of me that is overjoyed with all of the wonder about him. I am naturally a worrier so it is hard for me to be "brave", but God is changing that in me and I think one of the main reasons for this heart change is for my son. Thank you for this encouragement to be brave and to let him be a boy!
Linds - January 17th, 2013 at 12:34 PM
I am a Mum with children your age, and Yes, OH, SWEET MERCY, THE VOICE OF COMMON SENSE AT LAST! I raised my kids to be daring too. My husband was off at sea for 9 months of the year, and with 2 sons and a daughter, I needed to be sanctioning the kind of life he thought they would thrive in, and oh, my word, did they ever. They have all been exploring the world in their time, and my daughter is even more brave than her brothers, and that is saying something.

I cannot abide the over-nannying ideas. or the 10 million Health and Safety laws. Do you know that here, they cut down trees in case children climbed them and fell?? WHAT?? Let them dare. Let them play out their imagination. Let them leap and bound, and build and explore, and for heaven's sake, let them lose and learn that they perhaps were just not good enough on the day. Get over it. Life is tough, and we need tough, resilient young people who know how to think out of the box and come up with wonderful new ideas to stun us all.

Bravo, my dear.

And I will guarantee that there are many many 50ish Mums out there smiling and high five-ing each other after readign this. There is hope!!!
Jen Hatmaker - January 17th, 2013 at 1:57 PM
I love this reply so much. Thank you. I LOVE hearing from moms ahead of us that, yes, little lovey moms in my little generation, it's going to be okay. We need to hear this. And this sentence is the bomb: "Life is tough, and we need tough, resilient young people who know how to think out of the box and come up with wonderful new ideas to stun us all."
Kristin F. - January 17th, 2013 at 12:34 PM
WORD. Can we be friends? I want to be anything but precious!
Kelly - January 17th, 2013 at 12:47 PM
For those asking about how to protect people from abuse of any kind....

Well, the truth is you can't. You can bubble wrap your kids, hold their hands whenever you are with them, and hover like the best helicopter...but you can't always protect them.

You can teach and love and guide and watch. You can arm them with the tools to protect themselves as much as possible. But you can't make them safe always.

It's your job to be watching, asking questions, offering insights, and encouraging them to think. And hopefully if someone tries something it can be stopped or your child will let know early on. But even the most well intentioned parents can't guarantee their children will be safe.

All you can do is do your best. And know God is there.
Karen - January 17th, 2013 at 12:53 PM
Our family "motto" has been "You have many choices!" It has served our boys (now 24,22 and 17) well....even when lighting tennis balls on fire and playing catch! :-) Sometimes it was just best to look away!
Whitney - January 17th, 2013 at 12:54 PM
A-mazing! I just wrote something insignificantly similar to this the other day. "To fear or Not To Fear". Sometimes we actually come from 'Precious Ones' but face things of such magnitude that Precious instantly disintegrates. I gave birth to my daughter almost 3 years ago and her life was significantly altered after being attacked in utero by a virus that I caught, for the very first time in my life, while I was pregnant with her. The result? Severe brain damage. Profound Hearing Loss. Severe quadriplegia cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and cortical visual impairment. In order to raise a Brave little girl who has the cards stacked against her...I choose to be her Brave mommy. Society says that for 27 years I should have lived in fear of this virus, especially in my years of pregnancy...and I might have, but by God's grace...I'd never heard of the virus, let alone the devastating effects it could have on my unborn baby. This virus and its impact does not define me, and it most definitely does not define my little girl!! Fear does not lend itself to trusting our Lord in this broken world%u2026so we choose Bravery! And you have so eloquently expressed my heart! Different scenarios, but a strikingly similar approach! Thank you :)

Karen - January 17th, 2013 at 12:55 PM
My oldest son is 14 so we are learning the tightrope walk of risk/safety. As foster parents, we couldn't always shield our kids from the messiness and heartache of life. One of our favorite sayings around here has become, "Just because somhing is hard, it doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. It just means that it's hard.". Here's hoping they learn to take the risk and do the hard thing when He asks them.
OdysseyMamaC - January 17th, 2013 at 1:08 PM
I first heard your ideas on this at the dotMom Conference, and I wanted to stand up and shout "YES!" SO happy to have your words in writing so I can share with my friends and say, "See! Told you that you should have gone with me! Amazing-ness!" Thanks for having the courage to raise brave kids and encouraging me to do the same. I want to keep my baby girl safe, but not at the expense of keeping her from being fearless in her pursuit of God's will for her life. I still view her as "precious" in so many ways, but no worries. I'm pretty sure potty-training is going to completely rid me of those lingering feelings. There is just nothing precious about painting a kitchen floor with poop. Theoretically, of course.
Cari Watts-Savage - January 17th, 2013 at 1:13 PM
I love this SO much! You expressed exactly how I feel as a teacher and future mom. Precious is not in my plan!
Stevey - January 17th, 2013 at 1:28 PM
Eshet chayil! I love this.
Tara B. - January 17th, 2013 at 1:30 PM
We spent 13 years with two boys until we brought our additional children home from Ethiopia. I was so excited to have some more estrogen in the house with the addition of 2 girls and a boy between them. I've quickly learned I will take "Evil Knievel" over "Princess Diaries" any day. 9 year old girl drama is worse than fingernails scraping down the chalkboard.

After having 1 son an "accomplice" to his friends stealing street signs and getting caught after removing one from the police station(I know don't judge, I already did that for you!) and another son currently on his I lost count cause there have been so many detentions at school... LIVING UNDER MY ROOF IS WHEN I WANT THEM TO MESS UP! We don't fix their problems, we let them endure the natural consequences when they make a poor choice. Whether that's building an unsafe ramp and they have to put more brain power to figuring out how to make it safe, or whether that's a run in with the law, I want them to know they can come to their parents and we will put a band aid on their cuts and scrapes, or yes, we will drive in the middle of the night to retrieve them from the police station, but after all is said and done, they will know we still love them.

The earlier said son is now, 4 years older and in his first year at college 2 states away and he is self sufficient, independent, and can figure himself out of a jam. The later son came from a life where he was taken care of himself for 4 years of his early life and he could survive in anything life throws at him. Very different backgrounds growing up, but wired much the same, adventuresome, daring, challenging boundaries, brave, warrior like, and deep down just want to be loved for who they are.

It's taken me a long time of MY own mistakes as a mom to realize I have no control over the physical outcome of their life and I have even less control over the spiritual outcome of their life. I can only provide the best I can in both areas trusting that God has a plan bigger than mine and my job is to trust him more than I trust myself, and if they grow to love God and love others because of how I've loved them, then I've done my part.

Thanks Jen for being a "warrior" mom! Grateful for that!
Sarah Silvester - January 17th, 2013 at 1:31 PM
I hear what you're saying with wanting our kids to grow up brave, to know how to handle risk and make decisions for themselves. I wholeheartedly agree. But I struggle with just letting kids loose for hours at a time because as a child I was targetted and was in dangerous situations just walking home alone from school, or a friends house. It's extremely hard to put some of these 'Just let them go!" things into place when you yourself have actually experienced the nightmares you dread.
So I hope to strike a balance with my 3 kids. Providing plenty of opportunity to explore and do mad stuff. But at this stage I think I will always need to know where they're doing it. That's just me.
I love love LOVE your writing and the insight into your life.
Jen Hatmaker - January 17th, 2013 at 1:58 PM
Totally understand that, Sarah. Pop up a couple of posts...I answered some similar comments. ;0)
brooke - January 17th, 2013 at 1:34 PM
why did this make me cry? I love it. Geez. I have two boys. One little ethiopian sweetheart and one biological. They are buddies. Sometimes I feel like I should protect...keep safe...I grew up an only child girl....never spanked. My, oh my, how life has changed. Mud? Bring it on. Guns...umm, yes. We just came out of the Ranger batallion in the Army...turned into ministry dorks. :) God, Jesus....they were men. They were dangerous. I'm reading seven now. I feel like we're friends. forgive me for thinking i'm a part of your council. because in my is happening.
Leah - January 17th, 2013 at 1:35 PM
AMEN. Yes, yes, yes and THANK YOU! I have two girls (3&5), who sometimes seem to think they are boys :-). They are still bold and fearless at this young age and I hope and pray they stay that way. We live in San Francisco so it's not quite the amazon - but it is a spiritual jungle of sorts. They will live in an entirely different world than we have ever known. It's our greatest hope to raise strong disciples who will stand firm in their beliefs - no matter the cost. We try to teach by example in loving and serving others, especially the lost, broken hearted, widows and orphans. We need to be brave and consider what the purpose is for our families, wherever God has placed us. Allowing them to take appropriat risks now will build warriors for Christ later,
Laura N. - January 17th, 2013 at 1:36 PM
I have been so convicted of this lately. It is tough for me because we are a precious people. I am actually precious with precious sauce, but how am I going to send my kids out to make a difference in the world if they're all sheltered, coddled, and shocked by what's going on?

One thought that helps me is from a friend who was praying/freaking out as her daughter wanted to go on a mission to another country. She says God basically pointed out to her that He doesn't have grandchildren. They're His, and He loves them more than we are even capable of.

Thanks for the call to arms! I may begin by letting them sled without helmets. (That was totally an ironic statement because who would do that, right? heh heh; Lord, help us.)
Jen Hatmaker - January 17th, 2013 at 1:59 PM
"I am actually precious with precious sauce..." I just died. Thank goodness someone is. Can you imagine if all women were like me? It would be like a planet of men.
Kristi - January 17th, 2013 at 1:41 PM
At age 10 my sweet daughter sliced her knee to the bone on a mission trip in rural Mexico. A crazy long drive to Balboa Park Naval Medical Center and fifteen stitches later, she spent the rest of the week hobbling around the work site on a makeshift crutch and telling new Mexican friends, "Quince puntos en mi rodillo." Friends asked why we returned to the mission trip, why we didn't just spend the rest of the week recovering in a hotel in San Diego. (Honestly, probably because I didn't realize that was an option or I might have jumped on it!) Now at 14 she has a big scar and an amazing story and the belief that she can do most anything and go most anywhere because when God is with her, she is POWERFUL. She's heading to Nicaragua in a few months without me. Go Girl!
Callie - January 17th, 2013 at 1:56 PM
Amen! I have tinies (3&1), both boys. They are dangerous already and I absolutely adore that about having boys. I feel like I was meant to be a boy mom too!
Besides the dangerous stuff, I notice other moms doing things for my kids that they can do themselves. If it takes them too long to figure out how to get something on or off or figure out a toy, they jump to do it for them. I want to say "I see him taking his time with that but he will get it if you stop solving all of his problems for him."
Praying that my boys are dangerous, brave, problem solvers for His kingdom!
Colleen - January 17th, 2013 at 2:07 PM
This is so, so true- you need to read free range parenting. But. But. After working with teens for over a decade I've come to realize that there is one area where parents do really need to be over protective/over involved/dare-I-say-helicopter parents, and that is the space of technology, Internet, cell phones. And unfortunately it's one of the only areas where a lot of parents are completely hands off. The World Wide Web is a dangerous place (especially for high risk/low indescretion teens) and there are now a myriad of social networks for them to get into trouble with. I keep praying Tina fey's prayer for God to break the Internet forever before her daughter gets older :)

But I completely agree that kids should be kids and run around building forts and using jigsaws unsupervised :)
Jen Hatmaker - January 17th, 2013 at 2:17 PM
TOTALLY agree. Fully. Hopefully they will be so busy building bike ramps and setting up airsoft wars that they won't have much time for that craziness. That is some seriously dangerous territory...
Concerned parent - January 17th, 2013 at 2:22 PM
This is poppycock. I'm sorry. I agree that some of our generation leans towards overprotecting to a fault- carrying vats of hand sanitizer and handfuls of outlet covers to every hotel room. However- there are also those parents who think "PG-13" Harry Potter movies are totes appropriate for five year olds. I have made plenty loud and bold comments to parents schlepping their eight year old into movies like The Dark Knight just because a super hero is in it. Where is the middle ground? I tell you where it's not- telling a kid you won't pray to keep them safe in their hour of need- in a vain attempt at sounding too "cool" for that safety crap, you sound like a misguided idiot. The world of the 70's and 80's is long gone. We are not in an environment where kids roam the streets until dark using the own discretion on how far they roam. The world has gotten pretty shitty. The world's moral compass is as far askew as your take on parenting. I have two boys and a girl. Do I treat them differently based on gender- of course. It is built into our nature to let boys "be boys" and protect girls from- well....boys. To raise a boy who is afraid of his own shadow is extreme I agree, however, being proud if raising hellion "brave" boys who pile dangerously on top of each other on a netless trampoline is a poor parental decision- not an act of bravery? What is this? Roman times? May the best and bravest win? This is the real world sister- and although I applaud your brassy let them eat cake ideology, it will backfire on you eventually in a way you canny fathom. If you aren't on a first name basis with the ER- you will be. And if you won't pray for your kids' safety, I will.
Jen Hatmaker - January 17th, 2013 at 3:20 PM
Aside from your tone and name-calling (you realize I am a real person, right? Do you talk to people like this in real life?), we are going to disagree on one thing for certain: I disagree that the world is just a shitty place. I think it's a beautiful place with amazing people and so much to see and do and experience and FALL IN LOVE WITH. That is how I want my kids to think about the world. There is far more beauty than danger, and while I'm not sending them off to ride their bikes down the highway, nor am I going to fill their heads with fear. This has nothing to do with being too cool. Nonsense. I am hoping to raise world-changers, so the bubble wrap has to come off at some point. My high school has a much longer leash than my first-grader. He leaves me in three and half years, and let me tell you something: he'll be ready.
Joni - January 17th, 2013 at 4:46 PM
And may the best and bravest win. Have you read Revelations?
Carrie - January 17th, 2013 at 2:27 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you. As a parent of three and a teacher, this is so very refreshing. Here's to raising Dangerous kids.
Alanna - January 17th, 2013 at 2:44 PM
Oh my word. All I can say is THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS POST. I say the exact same things to people all the time about raising my boys and they look at me like I have lost my ever-lovin' mind. This is SO life affirming - for us as parents and our children. They absolutely NEED these experiences, and I am so grateful for your words. Also, I have no net on my trampoline and we've definitely had lots of kids on them - oh yeah, playing sports. And they know how to use things like knives, guns, hammers, nails, duct tape, etc. Amazingly, it's made them wiser, stronger, and more careful and brave at once. I have no time to stress over this. I would rather spend my time praying for them to be brave enough to venture out into wherever God needs them and know they are equipped, or at least experienced enough to know, that He and they together have the ability to climb and move mountains. They won't faint at the struggle. I pray I won't faint in training them and myself and praying and growing us all up in these abundant life challenges God has prepared for us to join Him in. Faith, sister. Great words. I love the ingenuity and adventurous spirit of boys. It says "God" to me in ways I'm so glad to hear you appreciate too.
Katie May - January 17th, 2013 at 2:56 PM
Love this! I've got two boys and am still in the toddler stage, so the "dangerou-ness" is still slow in developing as I am still watching out for white vans with tinted windows ;) However, I totally agree with your message and am working on growing in bravery myself. My husband and I are making choices now in our own life to live bravely under a Kingdom mindset.

Oh, and I definitely don't want to raise my boys to be "nice guys"...kind men, definitely, but not "nice guys."
Lindsey - January 17th, 2013 at 2:58 PM
Sooooo sick of namby-pamby parenting and young men who are total wusses these days because they were babied. I was raised roaming and exploring our pasture, playing Naya Nuki ( a popular book when I was young), riding horses, and building forts and building boats to float on our creek. I used to walk 8 blocks to school in 1st grade. Nowadays, most parents won't let their older kids walk 2 blocks. I let my 6 and 8 year old kids ride their bikes to their Grandma's (4 blocks away) to play on the log piles in her pasture. It's a busy street but they have done it many, many times with mom and they are old enough to do it by themselves. They play for hours on the log piles (Daddy works nearby in case of accident/injury). Kids won't learn how to be responsible if you don't give them opportunities to practice. I think here in WY, with most kids growing up with horse/gun know-how, it's a little less of a problem than in big cities or urban areas. But, I still see helicopter parents who absolutely refuse to see their kid deprived of anything.
Lori H - January 17th, 2013 at 3:02 PM
Reminds me of the Dangerous Book for Boys... a fun read. I am afraid that I have coddled my son a little too much, but am making strides in that department as he prepares to go to college in the fall. He is in Tai Kwon Do and they teach toughness and integrity which together is a super combo. Great post. P.S. I am almost finished with "7". Wow.
Krista Box - January 17th, 2013 at 3:05 PM
So so good Jen! Perfect timing for me as well. Jake and I just moved into Central Austin to plant a church and for the first time I find myself struggling with wanting to keep my kids safe. For the first time, all of the things I said I believed (wanting my kids to grow up where sin is visible so they can truly see how broken this world is and how great our rescuer is) are being challenged. Thank you for writing this today!
Charlie - January 17th, 2013 at 3:06 PM
Needed to hear thus... Raised 6 girls this way!!! But I have found that with the eleven grands I have become over cautious!!!! Thank you for reminding me about being true to our spirit will have to remember the feeling of the freedom my girls had. Way different with these kids now adays.... But being brave , real .... Dangerous is the way to go.... Life will not hand them great things.... Through good prayer and empathy for others and a strong spirit they will weather what life had to throw at them!! Again thank you from a "brave grandma"...... Good job!!!
April - January 17th, 2013 at 3:10 PM
I just found your blog and I am soooo excited! I have been searching for a REAL Christian woman's blog. I've tried to read others but that precious thing? Gets me every time. I always come away from Precious Blogs feeling *less than* in some way. And as a mother of three boys...two whom are teens...I say BRAVO to this post!
Lindsey - January 17th, 2013 at 3:10 PM
One more comment:

I once had a helicopter parent tell me, "We're getting rid of our 3 year old's bed BEFORE his new baby brother comes so he won't get the idea that baby brother is taking it away from him. We wouldn't want him to think that he will be deprived of anything by his new brother because they he won't like him."

Are you serious???? I wanted to shout, "He WILL be deprived of a lot more than a crib! He will actually have to learn to share and not be the center of attention all of the time! And whether or not brother took his crib, he will fight continually with his brother; that's how it is with more than one kid!"

Instead, I politely said, "Well, why don't you make it a fun thing for him to be a "big boy" and SHARE his crib with his new baby brother, then he won't be as resentful."
Carol Vinson - January 17th, 2013 at 3:11 PM
This is so refreshing!! I am 50 and have two grown sons, 25 & 28; two middle sons, 15 & 16; and an 8 year old daughter. I have seen parenting become so stifling that I feel like a freak in front of my daughter's friends' parents especially.

But I don't care because she is growing up to be fearless and independent!! My prayer for her is that she will continue to flourish and be wildly His!
Marla Taviano - January 17th, 2013 at 3:17 PM
My three girls and I have a bone to pick with you. WE WILL NOT LET BOYS HAVE ALL THE FUN!!!

People ask me all the time (ALL THE TIME), how could you take your children to Cambodia around dumps and disease and child predators?? And now, how could you take your children to homeless camps and bad, bad parts of town?? BECAUSE. Those are the places Jesus wants them to go. And they are not afraid, because their parents aren't afraid (or aren't letting their fear show). We want them to know that following Jesus and loving people are worth getting hurt for. These adventures have ruined them for normal life.

And on a less high-and-mighty-spiritual note, we also like adventures in the woods, chasing deer. Through brambles and thorns, up and down ravines, across half-frozen rivers, through two feet of snow. We come home with missing gloves, rips in our pants, and windburnt faces. And mostly still loving each other.

On a more vulnerable note, a wave of fear will hit me every once in awhile--"Am I crazy?? What if something really awful happens to one of my kiddos while we're out on our adventures (the ones in bad neighborhoods, not the deer ones)?" Recite this over and over--perfect loves casts out fear. Perfect love casts out fear.

That's all.

Four Tomboys in Ohio
Jen Hatmaker - January 17th, 2013 at 3:24 PM
Love it! Love the Tavianos! I grew up in a house of tomboys too, so preach that business, girl.
Becca - January 18th, 2013 at 3:36 PM
Love you Marla! :-) Also, I feel the same way about raising my babies in the "ghetto" . . . Everyone basically just thinks we are crazy but I'm way more afraid of my children being influenced into "falling for" the American Dream than I am afraid of something bad happening to them because of where we live. I'm trusting Jesus not to abandon us where He led us . . . but also recognize that trusting Jesus doesnt mean bad things will never happen. ANYWAYS, all that to say that I love you :-) and your girls are surely awesome as a result of all your bravery :-)
KR - January 19th, 2013 at 12:10 PM
Amen from North Philly.
noelle - January 17th, 2013 at 3:23 PM
love this! there's just something about boys. my son is about to turn 13 and has had (6) different sets of stitches, 5 of which were all somewhere on his face. never a dull moment!

i think this applies to us adults as well - we also need to live dangerously - or at least out of our comfort zone. we need to continue to take risks and not be afraid to try something just because we think that we may fail. sometimes through our failures we learn the most valuable lessons :)

thanks for this good reminder :)
Brittany - January 17th, 2013 at 3:45 PM
I'm a worrier, typically. As I've been praying for children of my own, it's something I've been thinking about a lot. I don't want to scare my kids into being scared. I want to protect them, but not in a way that stunts them or shelters them. I want my kids to be brave and vibrant and to stand up for what's true and right. I want to put them on a plan with me to serve in Ethiopia and not be afraid of all the silly things people tell me to be afraid of. I want them to LIVE and taste and see that the Lord is good. And really, I think that begins with me. So now I'm going to pray that I would follow Jesus into the hard, messy and sometimes scary places of life so that my future children see me enter in instead of running away. And I pray that as they see me follow Jesus, they'll go and do likewise.

Thanks for this post, Jen. It's given me something fresh and new to pray for my future babies. And for myself!
Brittany - January 17th, 2013 at 3:50 PM
And by plan, I meant plane. I guess plans can be good, too... sometimes. :)
Kelly - January 17th, 2013 at 3:47 PM
For various reasons in my family and work life, I've been swaying and singing "Let It Be" to myself for a few days. This post, this mindset... a cherry on top. Too much time wasted on making my fellow church friends, my family, and myself comfortable or acceptable. I'm reading to embrace our hippie-ninja weirdness and do whatever craziness God asks us to do!
Kristi Ahrens - January 17th, 2013 at 3:49 PM
I always feel like such a weirdo. I have two boys (2 & 4) and sometimes I feel like the un-Mother of the year because I let them walk around with dirt on their faces, uncombed hair, sweats and cowboy boots, and of course the non-stop running dialogue about poop that has currently overtaken my 4 year old.

We live in an orchard on the brink of the woods, and we have bears, cougars, and a major rattlesnake problem in the summer. I'm not saying I send my boys out to be a hot meal for the wild animals, but I can't keep them on lockdown either. I just want them to be real.

And honestly? The sanitized, super safe, no TV or your 2 year old will have a tiny brain-life, will be the death of me. I can't handle the pressure. Since I've started to understand that nothing will thwart the plan of God for my children's lives, it's taken off a TREMENDOUS amount of pressure.

It brings me great joy that our 4 year old is bent on going to Haiti to help build a house for his little friend Michael (kid we sponsor), and I can't wait to get him on an airplane one of these days and take him somewhere that 2 years ago, I never would have dreamed of taking my kids.

God's grace. That's all that I've got for a parenting plan these days. Because Lord knows I screw it up every day.

And just for fun, here's a picture of my 4 year old with a dead rattlesnake:)
Tara - January 17th, 2013 at 3:50 PM
Amen! Lord, help me to be brave!
glynis - January 17th, 2013 at 3:51 PM
I'm on the other side of parenting and I love that one of the first things my girls would say - yes, girls (2 of them) - is "I can't wait to tell mom!" I didn't raise girly girls, I raised future women. I wanted them to be survivors and critical thinkers and they are, maybe in spite of me but hopefully a little, because of me.

We didn't hide them in bubbles, make all the booboos go away, or worry about them being embarrassed if they deserved to be. Barbies and bb guns were in the arsenal and they climbed trees while wearing dresses.

When my kids were babies I was faced with the very real understanding that I could not protect them all the time. But God is always with them. We kept pointing them to Him and eventually, they figured it out. He is now their strength, their safe harbor and I couldn't be more proud of the two women who are now not only my daughters but my friends.

Your approach is refreshing and I hope you see the benefit of raising pioneers and inventors and geologists and researchers and maybe world changers.... who knows?

Alanna - January 17th, 2013 at 4:10 PM
"I didn't raise girly girls, I raised future women. I wanted them to be survivors and critical thinkers..." - Excellent words (and actions). Exactly what the world needs.

Cynthia - January 17th, 2013 at 3:52 PM
Awww. I want some boys! We have a house full of girls who shriek over eensy spiders. Some boys would help them get over that in a New York minute. I blogged about the "what ifs" while back (it involves a plastic horse and some choking). We can't dwell on the what ifs and live at the same time. Love your heart, Jen!!
Beth - January 17th, 2013 at 3:53 PM
For the record, white vans with tented windows are WAY scarier than sending a 4 and 6 year old into the woods with only sticks and the mutt (who I am convinced was a chicken in his previous life). I often find myself yelling out the door, "Goodnight boys....would you please stay in the woods and out of the culdesac!?" Funny, the neighbors usually roll their eyes at the "crazy mom" who sends her boys into the woods and lets them burn stuff in the fire pit.
t.mccarthy - January 17th, 2013 at 3:57 PM
I have been reading about Adoniram Judson, a young man of 24 who served in the early 19th Century. This is his letter of request for his future wife's hand in marriage to the man he hoped would be his future father-in-law but had not yet met. I think it really underlines what you are encouraging us to do... to raise radical, adventurous lovers of God who are "all-in".

"I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure, and her subjection to
the hardships and sufferings of missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean, to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want
and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the
sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with the crown of righteousness, brightened with the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Savior from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?"

Blessings on your family. love, t

Holly - January 17th, 2013 at 4:03 PM
Wreckless for Christ- that has come across my lips several times- but it is so hard to live it out in our comfortable US of A! I once told a very close friend (secretly of course) that we were trying to raise our kids to be martyers for the Kingdom if need be. And yes, I did get the crazy look from her at first, but I knew she would be ok because she already knew I was crazy! It has taken me a long time to come to the point in my life where crazy is now normal and our 'hairbrained' ideas are now just sighs and rolled eyes from our family. Black sheep? Yes please, if that is what we have to be- for we cannot have one foot on the battlefield with God and the other getting a pedicure.
Amy E - January 17th, 2013 at 4:04 PM
I am a Mom of 4 (3 girls under the age of 12 and one boy age 8) and we are wild! I do get nervous in big cities- we live in the country! Actually our kids are growing up on a big ranch in East Texas. I can look out the window and my sweet baby (5yr) is climbing the high fence chasing after the older siblings who are quickly disappearing into the woods going to "the buddy fort", fighting off imaginary evils, hunting "wabbits", making spears out of small pine saplings or eating wild berries in the spring! Love it, yes? Am I glad they are brave enough to explore and imagine, you bet. Am I terrified they will get hurt, stabbed or bitten by a snake? ABSOLUTELY, but I have to remember that God is in control and not me. I have to remind myself that much of that adventure comes with responsibility! If my children honor me to be home before dark, to go in pairs (not alone) or to take a hand radio, but knowing I expect them to get dirty and do wild things but be responsible! If the boys haul off in the woods with BBguns and I hear that someone did not point in a safe direction, guess what- they loose the guns for awhile! Growing up my Mom was SO controling that when I was able to have a friend drive and get me out of the house I exploded!! I want my children growing up with the freedoms of adventure but also with responsibility so that hopefully they won't be "children gone wild"!
We also run a summer camp for teenage boys where they get to hunt and fish- that can be wild, dangerous and the most fun ever! We encourage them to be creative- no cell phones here! We have to remind them that hunting is NOT a video game. You can't just push the right button and out pops the animal that you happen to shoot perfect! This is not a perfect world with one person in control or the controller. It takes determination, patience and also risk- but life is risky. Why would I want everything in my kids lives to be perfect? Just this morning we packed and handed out boxes at the food pantry. There were my kids, not afraid to interact or travel the parking lots to strange vehicles to help pack strange people's food, and I loved it! They went in pairs, were brave, interacted with strangers of all races and most down on their luck, but so happy to have a little one willing to acknowledge their presence all because they weren't afraid and neither was I! God keeps a watch over my little sparrows better than I do, even in all my fussing.
Abbey Smith - January 17th, 2013 at 4:10 PM
The pendulum swings both ways though. As a youngster I would babysit for all my parents friends, on a first time with one particular family I listened to the The Mom talk about dinner and phone numbers and time frames while her 4 year old ran head first around the room at top speed. First he banged into the banister and I waited for her to say something to him, instead he got up, ran around some more and banged into her (extremely trendy) shipping crate coffee table, he came up with a cut on his nose and a whimper. Again I waited for her to say something. Instead she kept talking and her son got up and ran as fast as he could, face first, toward the refrigerator. I scooped him up, turned him around and set him loose in the opposite direction and called after him "Be careful there buddy!" The Mom stopped her litany and looked at me like I'd just spanked her kid in front of her. "Oh," she said, "no, we don't say that in this house. We try never to tell our kids to be careful or cautious. I don't want it to create inhibitions later in their lives."


Assuming that young man made it to later in his life (as the evening wore on he garnered six bruises and three scrapes - all on the face), where is his line in risk taking now? Because while over sheltering is dangerous, so is under sheltering. If my kid (for whatever reason) doesn't get that fire is hot within the first two times of touching the stove I am going to sit him down and talk about fire safety and caution, and common sense. Because isn't that my job as a parent? Let him take a risk and then if it blows up his face (or he slams his face into it) help him learn the lesson there?

I'm like you Jen, I want my boy to be a BOY. I too am a well qualified BOY parent, but there's a line on this side of the pendulum too, a line that when crossed creates not brave or free adults, but irresponsible ones.

Which I know you know. I just wanted to add my say.
Amy - January 17th, 2013 at 4:19 PM
Hey, here's a funny story. Our Restore Group just decided on a whim to read Max Lucado's 'Fearless.' Some of us (clearly) lean a bit towards preciousness. YOUR PARENTS ARE IN OUR GROUP. I should develop some sort of scale to rate how horrifying their anecdotal contributions are going to be. And how often I'll need to grab a paper sack to hyperventilate into. They are the best people I know.
wendy - January 17th, 2013 at 4:34 PM
I was ment to mother boys also...I don't carry germ x and I throw away participation trophies. I do however have an ridiculous fear of fire and my boys love to torture me to a point with it. My youngest loves to play army or as he puts it "people hunt" I chose to think I am raising the next Jack Bauer.

Michelle - January 17th, 2013 at 4:45 PM
I grew up in the 70's and 80's, my hubby grew up in the 60's and 70's. You know, the time where we didn't wear helmets and rode our bikes until the streetlights popped on. My husband raced homemade skateboards down "Murder Hill" with his 3 brothers and I jumped off a precariously placed picnic table in the neighbor's pool for years. These are the things that made kids feel alive and it is SO nice to hear of someone who feels the same way we do.

In God's wonderful sense of humor he gave me 1 son and 5 daughters. Despite my efforts to make my son 'safe' throughout his childhood, his innate nature thought otherwise and he had an amazing, adventurous childhood full of stitches and bruises that made the doctors cringe.

Thankfully, something clicked inside me and sought to raise adventurous daughters. We let them climb trees, bounce on our trampoline with herds of other children (although brownie points for us because we have a safety net), and make/invent/build and experiment to their hearts content. They got duct tape and rope in their stockings for Christmas. Because like you said, we want them to be brave. We want them to take chances. We want them to see life as a God-given adventure. :) My 19 year old daughter leaves on her first trip to Africa to help in an orphanage in less than 40 days. Her first adventure as an adult, on her own. I couldn't be more proud for her.

And some day...we hope they all marry brave men who's momma's let them experience life and not be afraid of it.
Amy E - January 17th, 2013 at 5:28 PM
I'm so there with you!!!! If God's kingdom was safe why would Jesus tell us to be as shrewed as serpents and as coy as dove? Jesus faced demonic people freeing them in their darkness, He lead Peter to walk on water (who thinks of that stuff- oh boys do!) :0)
So, if I can't raise my children to be confident, brave and responsible for those crazy ideas, and sometimes reckless, then how would I ever prepare them to enter into The Kingdom? The kingdom calls out for men and women who are willing to go to countries like Africa because our adventures Father leads us there. Because it is, should be, daring to follow Jesus and walk it out! Life is risky, loving people is risky, following Jesus is risky: it might cost me everything!
DanielleD - January 17th, 2013 at 4:46 PM
AMEN. My favorite blog post ever!!! I am raising two boys and I like to think of myself as a 70's mom for this helicopter generation. I was super overprotective when they were babies (my husband still gripes about the organic mattress...) but now i'm just too tired to care. Could they break their arm? Yes? Okay, that's fine. But no death and destruction today (they are, after all, only 5 & 4). Really, I love this. I live in Wheaton IL, which is kinda like living in one great big church and i'm surrounded by people who insist on homeschooling and helicoptering and I just think, "what exactly are you going to do when they march off to college? when they meet others who don't believe the same thing? when they have to work things out without you mediating everything? It makes me crazy. Let's raise boys who grow into MEN! Real men.
Sue - January 17th, 2013 at 5:37 PM
I'll be the first to say it: homeschooling does not equal helicoptering. It actually lets our kids break out of the preprogrammed, hyper-regulated public school bubble that stifles the bravery of plenty o' folk (not sayin' everyone, just plenty). When they march off to college or the mission field or step into the arena of motherhood/ fatherhood, they will have learned to think critically, follow their passions, build forts, and look someone in the eye while speaking to him or her. They will have "lived" the truth of being not quite like everyone else, and, Lord willing, have learned to be ok with it. We don't homeschool because we are scared of the world; we do it because we know we need the good Lord to conquer it for His kingdom, and we believe that les kiddos (at least ours) will get the best of that from We, The Parents. Many of the homeschool families we know parent on the edge, embracing bravery. Manhood is held at a premium. But, then maybe that's just us crazy West Coast folks.

PS - I'm totally ok with private, public, whatever-schooling for those who are discipling their children, so don't destroy me. Just wanted to address the question at hand about homeschooling and dispell the notion that it always has to do with being overprotective.
Mandy - January 17th, 2013 at 7:44 PM
Absolutely agree! Aside from purely educational reasons, raising children not to be fearful and to love as Jesus loves means that we must train our kids for battle. Anytime we step out and love others as Christ does, we meet heavy artillery from Satan. I want to train my kids what they need to know in order that they can step on the battlefield fully rely on the power of Christ. That's why I homeschool. And as a side effect, it teaches my kids that it's OK to be different and outside the norm.

And I'm taking a HUGE leap of faith myself this summer as my 15 year old daughter will be going across the globe to Slovakia this summer (parent-free, although not adult-free) on her first overseas mission trip. I think God's growing me as much as her through this trip :)
DanielleD - January 18th, 2013 at 12:42 PM
I'm interested--what do you mean when you say "preprogrammed"? And by hyper-regulated are you referring to schedules, certain topics for certain grades, etc... Do your kids socialize with only other homeschoolers? I don't totally equate homeschooling with helicoptering.
Sue - January 18th, 2013 at 3:00 PM
I apologize if I misread your comment. It seemed at if you were speaking of the two as one in the same.

By preprogrammed I mean that it is decided and planned far ahead of time what your child will learn and how he or she will learn it. State standards and common core standards determine curriculum subject matter, difficulty, and complexity. It is decided ahead of time what your child will read and what he or she should learn from it. I was a public school teacher for four years, so I am speaking from a place of experience. This is very helpful for goal setting and evaluation. They are doing it right. It's the only way it CAN be done on that scale.

I pre-plan. I set goals and aspire to starndards. I just don't do it for a group of 30, 500, 1,000 or hundreds of thousands in one fell swoop. Also, if something is not jiving, I have the freedom to change it. Not necessarily so, for your local PS teacher. Students AND teachers in public school are expected to fit the mold. By hyper-regulated, I mean that the US education code is hundreds of pages long. Then you have your state ed. code. Then you have your local school board's rules. Then the school has rules. Then the classroom rules. There are a lot of people making decisions for those kids and mediating their lives when there is conflict. That's what I mean by that. Rules are great. They need to be there for safety and order. I am just drawing the distinction between independence and absence from parents.

My kids (and most of the kids I know) socialize with other homeschoolers, kids at church, kids in the neighborhood, adults they meet during errands and outings, kids from soccer and baseball, parents from the park, people they meet doing various service projects, etc., etc. My kids recently met and spoke with hundreds of inner city residents as they served them during the holidays.

Again, I know a lot of great kids from public schools. Heck, I know a lot of great kids who aren't Christians. Our family chooses to homeschool for all of the reasons I listed above and more. I think it's important not to get lulled into a false sense of security, no matter how you choose to educate your children. My children won't be exceptional just because we homeschool anymore than sending them to public school makes them independent, free-thinkers.
Lindsey Crawford - January 17th, 2013 at 4:49 PM
One of my first memories as a child is of my parents taking me to see my first-ever movie in a theater. What did they take me to see? Poltergeist. I am your people.
Shannon - January 17th, 2013 at 4:51 PM
You hit the mark! (And jumping on a trampoline without a net is not reckless parenting...can't believe someone said that!) It took us a while to get out of the protective bubble wrap. We wanted to protect and hover over our kiddos. Especially our son Ty. He has health issues and challenges that would make a brave adult crumble, but his illness forced all of us and him to rely solely on God. It forced us to let go of the false sense of control and stop beating ourselves up for everything we did or didn't do exactly right. You know the song, "Live Like You Were Dying". To think in such a way really does change your heart and your prospective on life.

So, our 10-year old son, who has tubes and ports all through his body and requires dozens of doctors, taking a BUNCH of medication and gets monthly blood products for a NON-EXISTENT immune system, asked for Christmas for a Passport to travel on mission to Peruvian Amazon. Are we scared? Heck yes. Do we dare tell him no? NEVER. He knows the risks. He knows the potential cost. He is wise beyond his years. He is planning it out in his mind and writing it down. Food. Water. Meds. Are we crazy? YEP (and we get told that pretty regular). Reckless Parenting? NO, we are witnessing our son being brave enough to maneuver the risk and seeing his heart yearning to go on mission is exactly where God wants him (and us too)!

P.S. I have to say that I am SO glad to know that I was NOT the only child watching scary movies and then being plotted against by a parent. (I can't believe YOUR parents did that!) Nightmare on Elm Street? Yep, my Mom would trick us into stepping outside at dark. Swiftly shut and lock the door behind us, turn out the porch light, as we beat on the door screaming, she sang loudly, "1,2, Freddies coming for you...3, better lock your doors 5, 6 grab your crucifix...."
Abbie - January 17th, 2013 at 4:52 PM
Coming from a household dominated by girls, I started to read this post and thought "oh how this is NOT how my childhood was" I know how to throw tea parties, not set up for possible alien or ninja invasions. But then I thought about it- and even with only girls in the house, I still think we ended up with a good dash of danger in our blood. Every summer we went to my grandparent's farm and my grandmother's idea of keeping up with the kids was to lock us outdoors starting at 8am and she wouldn't let us back into the house until sundown unless (and I quote) "you're missing more than two fingers or dead". The hose was there for drinking (have you ever had Florida well water? It is NASTY) And the orange orchard was our outhouse. We didn't have wars, fight with knives or kill aliens, but we did have a lot of princess adventures, scouring the land for hidden treasure and the like :) I totally agree that there comes a point where parents are too protective and I'm so grateful for parents and grandparents who "turned us loose" outside in order to have fun. It just so happens our idea of a full good time was creating chalk masterpieces and playing Barbie .... I'm totally with your friends on this one. I don't plan on being an over protective parent, but a household full of boys with no one to play dress up or have a "spa" nail painting party every now and then terrifies me too!
mary demuth - January 17th, 2013 at 5:13 PM
Love love love love this my dear Jen. Sounds like a tidbit from my authentic parenting in a postmodern culture book. Let's raise these dangerous kids!
Alyssa - January 17th, 2013 at 5:17 PM
I'm going to need to re-read this when I actually have kids one day. I'm a type-A control-freak super worrier. This whole post terrifies me, which makes me think I was supposed to read it.
Dalaina - January 17th, 2013 at 5:27 PM
Finally someone speaking the same language as me! (Mom of 4 boys.) Sometimes I wonder if I just don't have enough nurture in me since I too crack up when I catch my 4 year old twins sword fighting with steak knives (Yes. I took them away, but I had to laugh too.) I've been threatening to write a book called something to the effect of "Stop Raising Whimps!" This post is hysterical, but thought provoking as well. Good luck on your parenting journey! You might enjoy this post too:
Beth - January 17th, 2013 at 5:29 PM
Reading through some of the comments above, I gotta say, If I ever decied to call you an "idiot", (which probably won't happen since I'm pretty sure we were separated at birth) I will promise to tell you my name first. Brave parents raise brave kids.
gina - January 17th, 2013 at 5:39 PM
I LOVE this! I have 2 boys and I thought I was go with the flow and care free.... that is until I had these two crazies! I may make self read this everyday for a month till its burned in my brain. Lighten up and have fun!
Beth - January 17th, 2013 at 5:51 PM
I have 3 boys, and I totally get you, Jen. I could have written this myself. I wish the world had more brave parents, because our kids are going have to be VERY brave at the rate our society is declining. What's helpful in my house is that my husband is just as big a kid as they are--sometimes HE instigates the hijinks that make me run to the other room! Creativity and energy I can handle. Body-slamming each other until someone has the breath knocked out of them is too much for me to watch. I let it happen, just not in my presence :-)
Dana - January 17th, 2013 at 5:55 PM
As a mom of 4, three being boys I feel ya. We have a saying "what happens at the deer lease stays at the deer lease". They've been dragged behind trucks, killed deers, shot hogs and had a lot of fun. They have studied overseas, lived in sketchy neighborhoods, fed the homeless and hung out with thugs. I'm sometimes worried about their safety but I think the most dangerous way to live is being too "safe". Amen my sistah. You are my people.
Nicole Quiring - January 17th, 2013 at 5:56 PM
Your post totally reminded me of Mark Batterson's book "Wild Goose Chase". If you haven't read it I know you'd love it!!!
akh - January 17th, 2013 at 6:00 PM
I just don't know what I'd do if I caught my kids playing "concentration camp" with belt beatings and gas chambers like these one siblings that I know of from back in the day. Their names might rhyme with feather and pondrea.
Julie - January 17th, 2013 at 6:52 PM
May my daughter be the wife of a son like yours...and my son be his best friend! :)
Janna - January 17th, 2013 at 6:53 PM
YES! As a mother of two boys, ages 16 and 10, I love you! They have always been too fidgety in school (Sunday school too), and playing Avengers at recess earned my youngest a trip to the principal's office. Poison ivy can be fixed with a little calamine. Nothing can replace the fun they have had exploring our woods and enjoying God's creation. Those pictures are awesome.
Christie - January 17th, 2013 at 7:08 PM
I can not tell you how many "snakes" have been lost in my house. "Mom, we were just sitting here watch Arthur and the snake just got out of the box all by itself." True story. I decided after my middle son dove into the toliet while playing Inspector Gadget and having to get 18 stitches that I was going to pray a general prayer of safety over my 3 boys that would cover their lives with protection and let God worry about keeping them alive. Otherwise I was going to lose my mind. I love boys being boys. To me that means that they are going to grow up to become men being men. I have a daughter too, who is the oldest. She has lived through grasshoppers being put in her bed (that were not found until days later...eewww), toads in the shower, to snakes wrapped around a candle she went to light. (laughing...that was a good one). But now that she is older and has two sons of her own cherishes her brothers love of life being shared with her own boys. My oldest son (now 16) told me the other day as we were talking about his future, "No matter what I choose to do, I want my life to matter. I want to make a difference." I believe by allowing then to be all that God would have them to be, they have become young men of confidence. His life verse is Proverbs 5:1-2, " My son, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to hear my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips my preserve knowledge." Yes, yes and amen. Go my boys and be mighty men of God.
Tammy Lawwell - January 17th, 2013 at 7:31 PM
I am looking to purchase the DVD kit of the Interrupted study. My local Lifeway store told me it was discontinued although they can order the workbooks for me. Please advise as I am the church staff leader over our Ladies' Bible studies and one of our leaders wants to facilitate that class in the Spring. Thanks!
Flower Patch Farmgirl - January 17th, 2013 at 7:37 PM
HAL-le-lu-jah! HAL-le-lu-jah! HalleLUjah! HalleLUjah! Hal-LE-E-lu-JAH!

My goal even when my kids were babies was for them to be independent, though I learned quickly that it put me square in the "bad mommy" category if I said it out loud.

I want my kids to be movers and shakers and BRAVE BRAVE BRAVE! Squirrely and wild and dirty and adventure-seeking. I cried on the inside when they all came home with free bike helmets from a weird city safety group.

I know it won't end well when they make a "slide" out of a long carpet remnant, positioning it so it dead-ends into a cinderblock wall, but I can't bring myself to say no.

I get it.
Kelly - January 17th, 2013 at 7:47 PM
Love the post! Would really love if you would follow up with a post about how-in-the-world you manage to deal with five children and the non-stop problems/dangers with the internet, pornography, social media, etc. I think these things are more dangerous than a perv in a white van or a flesh wound. I have two girls, ages 7 and 9, and have no clue how to help them negotiate this online world they are about to be thrust into (even if we monitor them at our house, I'm shocked about how many kids have computers in their rooms and phones with Internet access...)
Wendy - January 17th, 2013 at 7:59 PM
It is so hard to leave behind our fears when we step into parenting. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, my most suffocating fear is that my children will be abused also. And yet, a central part of my testimony of Christ redeeming my life is how I can SEE and KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that God took my abuse experience and used it to bring other hurting women to Himself. And I distinctly recall some close family friends, with a young daughter that I used to babysit, asking my mom "What did you do to have Wendy turn out like she did? Because we want our daughter to grow up to be just like her." With tears in her eyes, my mom replied "You wouldn't want to put your daughter through what Wendy has gone through."

That being said, in moments of Jesus-with-me clarity, I realize how foolish I am to fear that my children will be abused. Unless God has a plan to make it good for them, to make it glorify Himself in their lives, it won't happen. And if that is His plan, as gut-wrenchingly hard as it would be, then why do I fear it? I still absolutely teach my kids how to keep themselves safe, how to ask for help, how to have healthy boundaries around their own bodies-but I pray I'm doing it in a way that doesn't breed fear in their hearts, but instead breeds a healthy trust that God is with them and He that is in them is greater than he who is in the world!

And we're down with the forts and the knives and the wrestling and the like...but mommas and daddies, keep your boys safe from the influence of pornography!!! It won't harm the body but it sure will damage the soul.
Latina - January 17th, 2013 at 8:19 PM
My husband and I share your parenting philosophy. We have three boys. Our oldest son died at the age of 19 and I am so glad he knew the freedom of being in the woods alone, or sitting outside with a piece of wood and a pocket knife. He lived a large life in those 19 years. But his major accomplishment was that he had a relationship with Jesus that he shared with everyone he encountered. Who can fear death if you have that??
Jami - January 17th, 2013 at 8:23 PM
When we were pregnant with our first, my husband would get so mad at me because I would watch these documentaries about children with disabilities (my favorite was The Girl Without a Face, followed closely by The Boy Without Skin). He thought I was scaring myself to death. However, I did not feel fear from watching the documentaries. I felt comfort. Nothing is guaranteed in this life. Our children are not really our children--they are God's. I was watching those documentaries to affirm that to myself--that no matter what might occur in my pregnancy or no matter what struggles my child might have--he/she was God's, and that is the important thing. Not intelligence, not safety, not beauty, not worldly success--parenting is all about raising God's children. So when my daughter comes home crying because she is mocked on the playground, I try to remember that her purpose in life is not to be popular. Her purpose is to be God's. In the same way, I am not raising my children to be secure. I am raising my children to be God's, no matter what that might mean.
Rachel - January 17th, 2013 at 8:26 PM
I have myself one girl-child, but she's got more guts, energy, and stamina than most boys I know. I have to admit, she triggers my anxiety, but I kind of love it. It cracks me up when other parents comment about my mud-covered child or look at pictures of her covered (and I mean covered) in paint, because honestly, I don't care if she looks a hot mess. Frankly, even odds are that I've been jumping in mud puddles with her. Heaven help me if I ever end up with a girly-girl. What will I do?
susan heyn - January 17th, 2013 at 8:40 PM
Thanks for this Jen...i very much needed this message. I am a widowed mama. At first I felt I had to protect our son and daughter from everything. Then I realized, I'm their mother, not God. My job is to raise them right, His job is to ptotect them. I call them future leaders cuz they take charge. I want them to be brave as well. You see, brave was their Daddy's part, but bit by bit I'm giving their leashes some slack. Thanks for the real world reason!!!
Alexandra Kuykendall - January 17th, 2013 at 9:38 PM
Jen, I have to disagree with you on one point. You and your brood are beyond precious.
Evie - January 17th, 2013 at 9:39 PM
.My babies are all in their twenties and I couldn't agree more with this post. But fair warning....if this is how you raise them one morning you will wake up in your home in Southern California and realize you have a daughter teaching middle school in inner city Philadelphia, a daughter living in northern Haiti doing long term (meaning until God calls her elsewhere) mission work as an RN at an infant care center and a son living and working In South Carolina! And I wouldn't change anything. Brave little ones grow up to do mighty things in God's kingdom!
Shelby - January 17th, 2013 at 9:41 PM
Amen! In our home schooling circle of friends there is never any doubt that our boys (and girls) will get hurt, learn to improvise, and learn to be brave! I LOVE parenting boys as well - three of my five are boys and they are WILD and DANGEROUS and SO much fun - especially when they are with their friends!! It makes me a bit sad that we now live in a large city and I can't let my kids just go out for hours at a time like I used to as a child. I love it when we visit my parents and they run in the woods, shoot targets, build forts, and just play, play, play!!
K - January 17th, 2013 at 9:52 PM
I admire your attitude and I'm sure you are raising great kids, I just wanted to share my specific reaction to toy guns because I felt I had to say it.
I have a hard time seeing toy guns. Not a fan of toy swords either.
I know this is a very specific comment and not the point of your post at all. I hesitate to post it because I don't want to get jumped on for making this comment but especially after what happened at Sandy Hook, I think everyone needs to take a look at how much guns invade our culture and if they really belong in play. I know toy soldiers have been around forever, etc.
I just don't like it. It's a gut feel thing for me. I'm not buying toy guns for my sons. And I'm not letting them play video games with guns when they get older either. (I'm not saying you do re: video games - in fact I'm pretty sure you don't). Again, sorry to drop by with this kind of comment but I'm being "brave" and not holding it in.
Amanda - January 17th, 2013 at 10:02 PM
I posted just minutes after you with similar thoughts. I was so surprised that no one had commented on this yet!
Lori F. - January 18th, 2013 at 6:24 PM
I feel the same way! I have thought long and hard about this over the last few weeks. Guns are now considered "toys" with the popularity of the airsoft craze. I have two sons (12 & 9) and the eldest has several friends into airsoft. After thinking about the sanity of giving kids "assault rifle" look alikes, I have said "enough is enough"! Would the kids want these guns if they didn't look so realistic? I grew up with my dad's guns, hunting guns, and my mom had a dead-aim as well. However, I was also taught that guns kill, they are not toys, they are not fun. I'm not going to stray into gun control territory here, don't want to GO THERE. I just question the sanity of giving boys "toy guns" that shoot pellets and look like real guns but not expecting them to want the real thing later. Not trying to bash, just trying to respectfully offer a differing opinion. Can't boys be boys without airsoft guns that look like the real thing?
Amanda - January 17th, 2013 at 9:58 PM
Just a thought about many of the comments: Many comments seem to equate non helicopter parenting with a boys will be boys type of parenting style. Included in that seems to be an acceptance of violent play, with toy guns, etc. I get the purpose of not helicoptering our children is to make them into disciples and brave followers of Christ, but I find it interesting that no one has commented on the irony of trying to make children into effective fearless disciples by allowing children to play with toy guns or engage in other simulated violent play. Jesus taught his disciples to turn the other cheek and to live a life free of violence. Can't we instill bravery and self reliance in our children, but also discourage violent play?
Jenee' - January 17th, 2013 at 9:58 PM
Have you been to the Free Range Parenting website?
Rich - January 17th, 2013 at 10:12 PM
And if I hear one more person wish me a "safe weekend" if gonna chew my arm off!

Barb - January 17th, 2013 at 10:58 PM
Oh this is sooooo true. Two comments: 1) when we were moving, from one civilized city to another, people acted like this was the very worst form of child abuse. One lovely teacher said "It's good for kids to have to adjust to new things. It makes them strong. You have a close, supportive family, they'll be fine." Thank you Ms Okura - I love you.
2) During one summer week my son and a friend, taped their mouths shut with duct tape and went swimming, wore lifejackets on their bums like diapers and tried (unsuccessfully) to dive, Lit a tennis ball on fire with gas from the lawn mower and played road hockey with it, attempted (unsuccessfully) to light a skateboard on fire, played baseball with 2 litre pop bottles until they exploded, put the busted bottles on their feet and 'skated' around the street, attached a sprinkler with hose to a football helmet to make a water hat, made a 'car' which was pretty good except for the no steering thing, which resulted in a busted car and a lot of scrapes and bruises. One of those boys is married and the other is finishing college. Yeah, they'll live!
Joy - January 17th, 2013 at 10:59 PM
So, are you saying it is possible I'm not the only person who spends time thinking about "what to do in the event of a submerged vehicle situation", and rehearsing which step of the escape process comes first (which is opening power windows before the electricity goes out), and who is upset that no one popped a seatbelt cutter/windshield breaker multi-tool into her stocking at Christmas? Phew. Maybe I'm more normal than I thought.

(Still digesting the rest of your post, as a non-risk-taking person who really respects kids who are safety-consious but is raising boys who not only take certain risks, but who also may have pre- and post-natal traumas of various kinds that make them more likely to take ridiculously dangerous risks without any awareness of consequences. Better go take my "Natural Calm" magnesium drink now and take a deep breath).
Lori - January 17th, 2013 at 11:00 PM
This post couldn't have come more timely for me. I need to chew on this for awhile and see where it lands. I agree so much with this post and until a week ago I would have been scream "Amen! We need more parents like this now days!" I've already raised 5 children in this manner and now they are adults and they turned out to be amazing brave adventurous men and women. Now I am doing this mommy gig again as we raise my step daughters children(had them since they were babies) whom are 6 and 7. They've already been through their own hell and our early years with them were spent undoing and reteaching and just loving them big and getting them to a place of blossoming into themselves. The 7 year old boy is an amazing little boy that has bigger faith than most people I know. I believe in free range parenting as that is how I raised my first set of children. I still do but now I'm not so sure. You see, evil visited us over the holidays in the form of an uncle whom we loved and trusted fully and claimed to be a fellow believer. One week ago we found out he has been molesting our 7 year old. In just a short period of time our free loving, adventurous, hard working,friendly, full of faith and love for Jesus, happy little boy has become one that is full of fear and scared to leave my side. Understandable.

The thing is I want to keep him by my side and not let him be that boy that I let go of. I'm scared shitless. I'm struggling with not knowing this was going on. I'm struggling with wanting to put him in a bubble and keep him there. And yet I know that would not be good for him either. I failed to protect him. I've taught them about strangers and predators but I failed to teach them that the predator could be someone that they loved or loved them. I've been crying out to God about all of this and then tonight I read this. Somehow once he has healed I need to encourage him back to being who he is and somehow God has to help me let go. Thank you for your words. They are a Godsend to me this night.
Jen Hatmaker - January 24th, 2013 at 11:10 AM
I'm so sorry, Lori. Sometimes despite our very best efforts, danger will find our children. You can count on me to pray for you and for your son as you rebuild, heal, and move forward. I really will.
Kerry - February 8th, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Almost in tears reading this. God bless you and your sweet boy. I'm so very sorry this happened. I don't have experience in this area but I think counseling for your son by someone who specializes in this would be very helpful. Kids can heal - they need to keep hearing that they did nothing wrong. You didn't know. Now you do and you can help him heal from this. Praying for you both too.
Claire - January 17th, 2013 at 11:49 PM
I'm not a fearful person, and I wasn't raised to think fearfully. I have one child now-- a daughter who is soon to turn two. After she was born, I got comments on my "relaxed" parenting style like: "Are you sure this is your first child? You don't act like a first time parent." My husband and I even had someone sit us down and tell us they thought we weren't being gentle enough with our infant daughter. (Which, of course, was ridiculous.) In my teens and 20s I skydived, did my share of intense downhill skiing, traveled around Europe by myself, and loved anything that went FAST! I nearly lost my life after a serious skiing accident, but after recovering, I got back on those skis and made sure I overcame any lingering fear.

I want to raise my daughter and any future children to be people of courage, bravery, conviction, grace, kindness, and gentleness. I want to be part of a legacy of standing in the gap for the least of the least. Like Gary Haugen of IJM says: "When our grandchildren ask us where we were when the voiceless and the vulnerable of our era needed leaders of compassion and purpose, I hope we can say that we showed up, and that we showed up on time."

All that being said-- I felt a little unsettled by the tone of "bravado" coming out of some of the comments and even your post Jen. It feels a little like: if you're not cool with letting your kids play with knives/saws, play the most intense combat sports ever, have a house overrun with imitation guns, have kids who love to hunt, and boys who are the manliest of men, etc., then you're not raising brave kids.

A brave kid is the one who tells a bully to stop, whether he uses his fists or not. Maybe he doesn't even take on the bully, but gets a nearby teacher's attention. That's still brave. And it might have been a wiser choice than physically escalating something.

Brave can be intellectual. Brave can be artistic. Brave can be patient. Brave can be speaking up or brave can be staying silent. Brave can be: "I'm sorry" or "I'm wrong." Brave can be: "Hey you-- come join us!" Brave can be: "I'd better not. I think I'll head home." Brave can be putting on a dress and doing your hair, even when you don't feel like it. Brave can be crying in front of others. Brave can be, in response to a teacher mocking faith: "Mr. Teacher, can I say something?" Brave can be fierce and emphatic or brave can be vulnerable and raw.

I hope my children want to go on a missions trip some day. Without me. In a far away land. I hope they feel comfortable going away to college. I hope they love to travel. I hope they skydive or do something that makes their skin tingle with excitement and a little fear.

But I also hope they THINK before they act (at least most of the time). I hope they show integrity in their actions. I hope they are brave enough to be weak and vulnerable. I hope they understand that when we are weak, HE is strong.

I hope they speak up when others are too afraid to do so. I hope they befriend the unpopular. I hope they know how to say I'm sorry and I was wrong. I hope they aren't afraid to take unpopular positions in the name of following Christ.

I guess this was just a loooong way of saying that I don't quite agree that "brave" has to mean "wild child who loves to get dirty, play with knives, play contact sports, etc." Which I know is not exactly what you were saying. I just started to feel that way after reading through the comments, etc. I know that you were speaking out against a style of fearful parenting that probably caused you to come across as strongly as you did. And man to I agree with you on that! Fear is just a foothold for the Deceiver. I guess I just felt that it added a little to the overall conversation to throw some of these thoughts out there.

One final thought: I acknowledge regularly that but for the grace of God, my child would not be alive today. Nor any of the rest of us for that matter! When you stop and think about it, any freak incident could take their lives-- A window cord when your back is turned. Falling out of a tree and hitting in *just* the wrong way. The practically gone mud puddle in the back yard. The list is endless. Our children our good gifts on loan to us from God for a short time. But they are always His. And they will always go back to him. I try to be grateful for each day I have with those I love and not let Satan have a foothold with fear and worry.

Thanks for sharing this post. As a whole, I really appreciated reading it and being encouraged to live boldly and entrust our kiddos to God.
Amanda - January 18th, 2013 at 3:15 AM
Amy - January 18th, 2013 at 8:09 AM
Amen! I love the thoughts behind the post, but the comments have turned to "Let's make fun of other parenting styles" and "Only people like us raise brave kids" and "let me brag about how dangerous my kids are". This is one of those situations where we should be careful. We should watch our attitudes and hearts and mouths. I know kids from many "camps" of parenting who came out just fine. I know kids who came out of those same "camps" who did not turn out okay. Stop judging your neighbor, please. Just love 'em.

Claire - January 18th, 2013 at 11:00 AM
As I lay in bed thinking about this more last night, I guess what really struck me was the trend to equate the raising of brave children with "wild, rough-and-tumble, go-for-broke kids," a stereotype most commonly associated with boys. I am especially troubled by the idea that our boys (and girls!) must be dirt-loving, bone-breaking crazy little men and women for them to be considered brave and courageous.

Like Amy above me said, there was a shift away from thinking critically about *fearful parenting* and towards: lemme tell you how rough-and-tumble my crazy boys who are truly going to grow up to be MEN are!

Quiet, introverted, book-work, sensitive kids can be raised to be brave too. And quiet, introverted, sensitive, book-loving parents are not necessarily fearful parents.

(All this coming from an extreme extrovert who is neither quite nor introverted, but I do love my books! I just want to be sensitive to parents who are raising gentle, meek, sensitive BRAVE boys too.)
Wendy - January 18th, 2013 at 2:18 PM
Yes. This. I think it does add a LOT to the overall conversation.
Janelle - January 18th, 2013 at 12:06 AM
This is a little random....but it reminds me of a study I just heard where they believe playgrounds are now being made "too safe" for kids. So kids don't learn how to take a risk and don't learn how to stop when something might be too hard for them. Instead everything is "just right" and everyone is successful. It reminds me a little of what this is about. If we are always in a "safe bubble" how will we learn, grow and lean on God. There is my two cents for the evening.
Christine Pinsonc - January 18th, 2013 at 12:41 AM
LOVE THIS...thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU! We have always had the words of 2 Timothy 1:7 framed and posted right inside our door, so that we will have to look at it as we go out into the world...lovig without fear and teaching my children to live in that boldness of spirit is one of my greatest goals as a parent...don't know that I do a great job, but it is always in my mind...I wrote many of my thoughts and hopes out on my blog nearly 7 years ago and I still continue to come back to these words on many occasions...they are still the cry of my heart for my children...
I love your heart and this resonated with me so deeply, as much of your writing does
Christine - January 18th, 2013 at 12:48 AM
thank you for this...we have always had the words of 2 Timothy 1:7 framed and posted right inside our door, so that we will have to look at it as we go out into the without fear and teaching my children to live in that boldness of spirit is one of my greatest goals as a parent...don't know that I do a great job, but it is always in my mind...I wrote many of these thoughts and hopes out on my blog nearly 7 years ago and I still continue to come back to these words on many occasions...they are still the cry of my heart for my children...
I love your heart and this resonated with me so deeply, as much of your writing does
Kelly - January 18th, 2013 at 5:15 AM
I have 3 boys.......oh the stories I could tell!!! ((((sigh)))) I LOVE the messiness, the insanity, the forts, the jumping off the top off the shed onto the trampoline....the one WITHOUT THE NET, I love the story of where they ALMOST burned the garage down, I love how they come home from a friends house with knifes, bear traps and all sorts of dangerous stuff, I love how they hunt and fish and spend their time camping making spears to spear fish and frogs. I don't miss the bows and ribbons, and anything pink. I don't get that, never did and God knew just exactly what he was doing when he gave me all boys!! I am raising men....who I hope will one day be mighty warriors for Christ, just like their Daddy.
Rachel Rivers - January 18th, 2013 at 6:25 AM
I love this! As a mom of 2 boys and a dangerous girl- I hope as adults they choose the brave call of discipleship that is uncertain, commands courage, and is above all, the greatest blessing and key to abundant life! Thank you for writing this!
Crissy - January 18th, 2013 at 7:25 AM
Finally someone said it..... I think it but then wonder, "am I too stuck in the good ol days when I grew up?" The thought of a "walkpool" to a school that can be seen down the street from the front door makes my head spin. I want my kids to grow up, feel freedom!

PS I was exhausted yesterday afternoon from a sick 6 mo old and a whiney 2 yr old, so I had my sights set on a nap. Wen the littles were finally asleep, my 5 yr old was out in the back yard putting the "sneak on" some deer on the other side of the fence. My 1st fear reaction was "come inside where I can lock you in safety and have you stare at the tv some more". Then a sense of peace came over me and I called out to him "moms going to lay down for a bit, stay in the backyard."

It. Was. So. Freeing!!!!! Do you know that boy came back inside with dirt all over his face and a huge smile? Reporting to me "I rubbed some dirt on my face so they couldn't see me hiding in the grass".

Love me some boys!

Pppssss.... I wish you had time to mentor me, ever since I moved here you have been such an encouragement to me through your books and tweets. Idolize you, only in a Internet stalker way ;-)
I live out in Drippin ..... That's draw enough for you right?
stevie - January 18th, 2013 at 8:01 AM
thank you, thank you thank you for writing this. words i needed to read this morning!
Stacy G - January 18th, 2013 at 8:36 AM
Jen - LOVE THIS! Great wisdom for this Mama of young kiddos. For me, the hurdle I thought I would never be able to overcome without full-scale hyperventilation was the transition from Christian to public school. And, you know what? I have LOVED every second of it. We have wasted so much time believe Satan's lives that merely keeping our kids "safe" (as if we actually are capable) is good parenting. I have been AMAZED to watch the Holy Spirit actually guide my 7 year old to make good choices. I'm convinced that teaching them to have relationship with God, hear His voice, and obey is the best start we could ever give them. Love watching Him work in their lives. And, for the record, I think you are your very own brand of precious. ;)
Abby Norman - January 18th, 2013 at 9:45 AM
Dear Jen Hatmaker,

Let's be best friends. I currently have two toddler girls and if I ever wrote a mommy memoir I am sure it's title would be "Oh, It will probably be fine." (So they eat the dog food, so what! I checked the ingredients and it has less chemicals than the Kraft mac and cheese I fed them for lunch.)

Meanwhile, I am currently a High School teacher with a first period of 28 freshmen boys and one very soft spoken and out numbered girl. Aside from the freshmen funk (Boys are stinkier. It is a fact.) this is secretly my favorite class. You never know quite what is going to happen but it will be exciting and likely hilarious (I place a high value on hilarity.)

Even at one and two (the ages of my kids) God keeps asking me, Do you trust me to use them? Do you trust me to love them better than you? Do you trust that I have a perfect plan for them? Do you trust that I know best? I am not a brave mom by nature. I am selfish with my kids and scared of them being hurt in any way. But I trust my God, even with my kids. And I know from my own childhood that far more damaging than sitting next to a drug addict homeless man at dinner (my dad had a street ministry, my mom thought it was awesome and thus dinner guests) is telling your kids that God gives you a pass on loving broken people because you might get uncomfortable because then they will miss out.
Karen - January 18th, 2013 at 11:26 AM
Love your comments, Abby.
Lindsey - January 18th, 2013 at 11:06 AM
Thank you so much for this post, it is exactly what I needed to hear! I have a 4.5 year old son and an almost 2 year old daughter. My husband and I are both first-born, cautious-type people and it's rubbed off on our son big time. He's always been an anxious and scared little boy. Right now he is terrified to be in a room alone for any length of time by himself (even in our home in the middle of the day.) I'm sure some of it is just who he is but I question how much we have contributed. Our daughter, on the other hand is a crazy girl, always pushing the boundary. Anyway, starting today I'm going to be more intentional about telling my son to be "dangerous" and not necessarily "safe.
Brian Jacobson - January 18th, 2013 at 11:32 AM
TED Talk inviting us to think about how exposing kids to danger makes them safer. Speaker says we should let our kids do these 5 things:

1. Play with fire
2. Own a pocket knife
3. Throw a spear
4. Break down/take apart appliances
5. Drive a car

Good fit to what you've articulated.
Kari L - January 18th, 2013 at 11:33 AM
I'm a mom of three girls. And we have a fully stocked arsenal of nerf guns, plastic swords, wooden swords and laser tag guns. But what we STRIVE to have are girls that are BRAVE. So thanks for your encouragement! -- A mom who sometimes forget Who is really in control of our lives!
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 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! 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 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.
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! :)
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.


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":

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.
Andrea - April 27th, 2014 at 9:02 AM
I have 4 boys. It wouldn't matter if I gave them toy guns or not, they pick up any random stick and it turns into a gun. Not all boys like guns, but for those who do, it is not unhealthy to allow them to pretend fight. In fact, the opposite can be detrimental. My kids have a bob gun they can se freely, whenever they want. They understand setting up a range, shooting with something behind their target so the bbs do not hit something that is not intended to be hit. My husband takes them shooting and teaches them gun safety, to a point that we trust them completely.
Christ is not only a loving God, but is a God that will come as a 2 edged sword. He cannot look to sin with the least degree of allowance. We need to be careful that we do not create God in man's image as a God who is so merciful that he never rocks he boat or isn't even rowing it.
The point of her post is that those of us who allow our boys to be rough and crazy are not the popular ones in society, a society that only looks at your kind of parenting as the only way or the "right" way.
Those of us who like our boys dirty and maybe a little bruised from climbing trees or jumping off stuff, need a little recognition that we are doing the right thing too.
The chicks have to come to Christ, if they don't they will be burned in the last day. That is the reality.
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 [email protected]).

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, 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
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 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
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" know it was a high compliment from here:) 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?

[email protected]
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
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 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.

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, _____ 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.

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!
brenda - February 11th, 2015 at 11:26 AM
I am so grateful for your sharing this! how i wish i could have had this camaraderie 25 years ago as i was beginning my own journey with my children. I am so glad my children are fighters for truth and light. it has not been an easy task to let them learn in painful times but they are stronger for it. I still fight the protective instinct to coddle or shield them but i remind myself how much Jesus wants them to be warriors against the dark and i hand them back to him.
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