Measured-Risk Parenting

Brad M. Griffin | Nov 23, 2009

Are we worrying about the wrong things?

Are we too overprotective, or too irresponsible?

How do we measure risk?

These are questions that haunt parents, especially when something goes wrong with one of their kids. Case in point: last week, trying not to be overprotective, I let my toddler climb on a kitchen stool (nurturing his newfound love of adventurous climbing). We ended up in urgent care. We have gates on our stairs to keep that same toddler from crashing down them, but our family lives and plays in an urban neighborhood with a moderate level of crime. Its all measured risk. But the measuring can be flat-out unnerving.

Last Friday Time ran a feature called The Growing Backlash Against Over-Parenting, pitting helicopter or stealth bomber parents against the emerging consortium of slow-parenting gurus. As Free-Range Kids mom Lenore Skenazy argues, Were infantilizing our kids into incompetence.

The article is definitely slanted in critique of the hovering phenomenon that has led parenting trends of the past decade or more. Wherever you stand on that, whats certainly worth evaluating is how much our parenting is driven by fear. At one point author Nancy Gibbs notes, Fear is a kind of parenting fungus: invisible, insidious, perfectly designed to decompose your peace of mind.

All parenting requires measured risk. But I sure dont want to be eaten alive by fear about my kids while Im measuring. How do you see parents of kids in your ministry working through these dynamics, and how much does fear drive the process? What have you learned from parents who operate out of a different mindset?

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, blogger, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and the series Can I Ask That?: 8 Hard Questions about God and Faith. Brad and his family live in Southern California.


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