There are 2 kinds of danger when it comes to being a dad. There is the danger that fills our world and we must make provision to protect our children. We protect and provide for our kids by plugging up electrical sockets with those clear plastic things and placing cleaning chemicals beyond reach. We train our children to hold our hand, to be suspicious of strangers and to stay away from stray neighborhood pets that “might” secretly hate children. We scare away the nightmares and wipe away the tears. We teach our kids to wash their hands. We tell them if they are lost to find a police officer or a woman (women are slightly less likely to be child predators than men… I know its profiling and I really don’t care when it comes to the safety of my child). We teach them to be safe.
Then there is the other kind of danger. Its the danger of being too safe. Its the danger of teaching our kids to stay close to home and not take risk. There will be times when my children will need to take risks. I’m failing as a dad if I do not push my kids out of the nest at some point and say, “You have to ride the bike with out the training wheels.” Other wise I end up with a 30 year-old kid stuck living at my house who cries at the injustice of running out of cheerios for breakfast.
The reality is that most things worth doing in life involve taking calculated risk and being dangerous. To ask my wife out on our first date I had to risk rejection. To keep a few people with me safe from harm I had to risk my life or bodily injury (thankfully I won the gamble on that one). To share the gospel with people in one of our inner cities I had to risk exposure to an area with a high crime rate (I grew up in rural America). To follow God’s call on my life I had to risk selling our house in a down market and move an hour away to another city.
Sometimes risk is good. Sometimes we fall on our faces even after taking well thought through and calculated risk. I guess the line between risk and safety comes when “right” or “reward” enters the equasion. I asked my wife out because of the possible reward of finding a wonderful marriage partner (by the way I am glad I did). I stood between a man recently released from jail and two young ladies he was threatening because it was the right thing to do. I would rather my kids do the right thing than the safe thing, I would rather them risk in pursuit of worthy goals than never have them attempt anything worthwhile.
Perhaps the hardest part of parenthood is giving our kids the right to fail and the freedom to take risk.
How do you teach your kids to interact with a dangerous world?