My youngest daughter was about three when she rode her first flying fox on a playground.
A flying fox is similar to a miniature zip line. It’s built on metal piping like monkey bars. Because it’s only five feet off the ground, rather than a harness, you just hang onto the handles and dangle as it glides you 20 feet from one end to the other.
I lifted Anicah up so she could grab the handles, then gave her a little push. She giggled as her body soared through the air.
My plan was to race past her and be at the other end when she arrived. But I failed to determine how fast she’d be flying on those well-greased rollers.
Before I could catch up to her, she reached the end of the line. When she hit and the handle bar stopped, the sheer speed of her forward momentum caused her body to continue.
The handles were ripped from her tiny grip and she went flying, landing hard on her back on the ground below.
I cradled Anicah, but the impact knocked the breath out of her. All she could do was gasp for air. It seemed like an eternity, but when she finally could take a breath, she bellowed out a cry of panic, pain, and betrayal.
I stayed on the ground with her for 20 minutes, whispering how sorry I was and how I’d never let anything like that happen again.
Ten years later, she continues to suffer from back pain and visits a chiropractor regularly. That incident was one of many making it hard for me NOT to hover.
I’d be a hot mess if I knew how often and how close I’ve come to losing my babies. I can try to keep them safe, but it’s impossible for me to be everywhere.
God is, and He does a much better job.
The essence of Psalm 91:11 is God directs angels to watch over and protect us. If I could remember that, I’d rest a lot easier.
God is present and his sovereignty has prepared me perfectly for my role as Dad. Eons ahead of time, God looked down through history and planned that I would be matched with all four of my children. So when I’m overwhelmed, or mess up, this gives me hope.
Still, I tend to fall back into feeling like I’m in this alone and parenting is all up to me and my wife. So I become hyper-protective and controlling.
It’s normal and instinctive to protect our child. Whatever protectiveness we might lack, we usually research or ask others about so we can do the job. Keeping our kids safe is for most people, a biological norm.
Sometimes a past trauma from our own childhood or even the evening news, causes us to over-protect. And for some of us, it’s hard to know where the line is between providing safety (noble) and removing inconvenience or disappointment from our child’s life (dumb).
Where is the balance? Are we setting up our emerging adults for success or failure? Share your thoughts in the comments.