The measures we parents take to protect our kids can be humorous at times. We teach them to ride their bikes with helmets, knee and elbow pads, and thickly padded gloves – every safety accessory short of bubble wrap. We fill our electrical sockets with plastic covers, erect gates in front of our staircases, and childproof our kitchen cabinets. Some parents even install video monitors to watch over their child’s every move.
Somewhere along the way, legitimate safety concerns have morphed into complete inoculation against every bump and scraped knee. We often overprotect.
And yet, many parents aren’t as acutely aware of another area of our kids’ health and well-being, this one no less important than physical safety: emotional safety.
Children who feel emotionally safe feel heard and understood because their parents know how to keep the main thing the main thing. In other words, they parent with an end goal in mind. They stay focused on the values that matter most, and they raise their children with a healthy love for God and for others.
But that’s not always easy, is it?
Every parenting journey begins as a mystery. No matter how much you know going in, you never know as much as you need to … or as much as you thought you did when it all started. That’s why our parenting styles usually mimic whatever mom and dad used to do. At least, at first.
No matter who our parents were, that’s both good and bad news. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. That’s why it’s so easy to get off track with our kids. It’s why we lose control of situations to the point that we’re yelling at our children or devising unreasonable punishments that are ultimately useless.
Your household can improve if you’re willing to connect with your children in a way that gets beneath the surface to what your child is really feeling. What’s their underlying motivation? What’s their underlying emotion? You may be surprised by what’s really happening in the hearts and minds of your children.
Your kids need emotional safety from you every bit as much as they need your physical protection. Over the next couple of days, we’re airing a conversation with Dr. Joshua and Christi Straub we’ve titled, “Creating a Safe Family Where Your Children Can Thrive.” We’ll offer some great tips about how to parent with a few key end goals in mind. Tune in on your local radio station, online, or download our free phone app.
Josh is an author, speaker, family advocate, and professor of child psychology. Christi has a background in marriage and family counseling. Together, they’ve written a book titled, “Safe House: How Emotional Safety Is the Key to Raising Kids Who Live, Love, and Lead Well.”
You can also find other helpful resources in our online bookstore.