Monday, March 30, 2009

Helmets and Armor

When I was in college I heard someone make a comment about how helmets have to be the dumbest invention that humanity has ever created. Think about it. We are engaging in sports or activities that could cause us serious head trauma or brain damage. The danger is all too apparent. BUT, we don't want to abstain from those activities, so we created "protective gear" that will allow us to keep doing those dangerous things. Rather than realizing the inherent dangers and letting our injuries deter us, we press on!
So I heard a radio spot from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons the other day. And the basic ad was this. A mom is speaking to her son, apparently an extreme skateboarder who hasn't been wearing his "armor" (pads, etc.) when he's been doing his tricks. So she has a conversation with him and tells him that he better start wearing his padding or she's not going to let him keep skateboarding any longer. Then comes the bass voice-over saying something to the effect of, "We can't expect our kids to stop their extreme sports. But we can try to protect them from injuries when they do."

Hold on. Back the train up. This commercial has bugged me for a few weeks now. It basically seems like they are saying that children are just going to do what they want; and the best parents can do is try to protect them from too bad of injuries. Is that true? I think in many families it is, but let ours not be numbered among them. In many families, it is assumed that "kids will be kids" and that they are going to do some foolish things (hanging out with less than desirable friends, driving recklessly, doing drugs, getting too intimate with their girlfriend, drinking a little alcohol here or there). Some parents think their role is to just guard their child from making a "big" mistake and really getting hurt. With the metaphor of the commercial, we let them do extreme skateboarding, just as long as they wear their armor.

But as Christian parents, we should not be resigned to the idea that our "kids will be kids." We are to hold high expectations and set limits on what our children are allowed to do. We are their guardians and the ones who are to be pressing them toward Christ. Of course, we must allow them to have some freedoms, but we often let this go way too far in our culture because we want our children to like us and think that we're "cool."

Set clear boundaries. Keep high expectations. Press your children to honor Christ in their decision-making. Have conversations with them about why you don't allow them to engage in certain activities. Don't just throw them the "armor." Help them see why their "extreme skateboarding" is dangerous.

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