Every decision we make involves some sort of risk, whether the risk is missed opportunity or weighty consequences. I think an assumption people make, when they consider you an “over-protective” parent, is that your decisions are fear-based (and maybe that is the case with some who are called over-protective) when really, at least for us, they are based on weighing risk and consequences. Consequences, risk, not only for us as parents but, predominately, for our children.
To use a “light” example: we decided we aren’t going to celebrate Santa at Christmas. The risk in “santa” is distracting from Jesus—a high-cost risk—while the cost of Not celebrating santa is mainly people thinking we are weird / our children telling other kids that there is no santa much to their parents’ dismay / no kids-on-santa’s-lap pictures.
There’s also the future risk—that our children will one day tell us how they wish we had let us celebrate santa (we celebrate plenty else around Christmas, so we’re not overly worried about this one). And, on the other side, if we did “believe in santa”, the risk that our children would tell us that they wish we had Not confused them about an already socially-materialistic holiday.
Easy decision—we had a lot of fun this year without any red-suited tubby men next to the manger scenes.
Sometimes these things become hard when you have outside family, friends, strangers, weighing in on what risks they think you should take with your children. Maybe they think Santa is fine, and fun, and that it is ridiculous to keep Santa from your kids. Ok—then celebrate santa with your own family. Maybe it is best for your kids! But your kids are not my kids.
I think the key is to respect other parent’s decisions with their children, whether those decisions involve homeschool vs. public school, vaccinating or not vaccinating, breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding. If that family has prayerfully and thoughtfully considered the issue, then respect that they may have come to a different conclusion than you did—they aren’t parenting the same kids that you are parenting.
Thankfully, the Bible does not tell us how to parent in the same way that Dr. Sears or Spock or La Leche League or whoever else does. We’re given freedom with discernment—if, as parents, we’re studying God’s word, seeking godly counsel, and praying over an issue, God has entrusted us to make certain decisions as parents, no matter how popular (or Unpopular) those decisions might be.