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 | By Sheri Wohlfert

Over-protecting or just keeping kids safe?

Invite God into this important vocation

When our first child was born, I remember thanking God constantly for weeks. I marveled through sleepy eyes at the amazing little human plunked right into our lives by the Creator, and my heart nearly exploded at this completely personal and perfect gift. I remember receiving a baby card with the Scripture passage, “Train the child in the way they should go and even in old age they shall never swerve from it.” (Prv 22:6)

I rocked and nursed and prayed with that verse for weeks asking God to show me how to do that, and I felt peace knowing he would absolutely help me live out that verse … but then the world of “public opinion and advice” began to invade my little bubble. I sadly came to realize that the very personal and private gift of a child that God had given my husband and me was actually very public. Fast forward a few decades and factor in social media and other technology, and the work of “training the child” these days can seem to play out in a fishbowl.

Each time I would feel the weight of the world's parenting opinions on my heart, I would read that baby card again and remember two really important things. First, God created my babies and he loves them more than I could ever imagine loving them, and second, our job as parents is to keep our children holy, healthy and safe. Praying with these two important truths can create the perfect balance. Once you catch your breath and turn down the noise of public opinion, it becomes easier to make decisions that honor your mission to raise holy, healthy and safe kids. In this column and the next, we will look at some specific ways to do this without smothering our kids or being overinfluenced by the latest trends, opinions and norms that seem to wash over us at every turn.

A hard truth

Yes, we love our children and yes, they are a beautiful, challenging, tricky and amazing responsibility, but they are not the center of the universe. We were created for sainthood and our relationship with God has to take first place, and when it does, God’s grace flows through all we do, including parenting. The vocation of parenting is part of our work to grow in sainthood.

Anxiety vs. concern

They are two different things. When we parent from a place of anxiety and fear, we spend hours and emotional energy trying to conceive of every possible negative or dangerous situation. When we focus on concerns, we think in terms of problems and solutions, which can be a more proactive thing to do because it opens up every situation to the Lord’s loving hand. He has a plan for our children. Anxiety comes from feeling as though we can’t control the outcome, and concern reminds us that we aren’t supposed to … that’s the Father’s job. This shift comes through prayer, where we share all of our concerns and invite God to help us “train the child.”

Smothering vs. protecting

There is a reason we didn’t leave the hospital with a new baby and a lifetime supply of bubble wrap. A simple truth: There is danger, disappointment, sadness and difficulty in life, and smothering our children in an attempt to keep them from these undesirable things is both unrealistic and unhelpful in the work of raising great humans. Raising kids who are safe, independent and responsible decision-makers can all fit together. Join us next month as we take a deeper look at how to do this in today’s world. We will take a look at managing things such as technology, relationships and social interaction with confidence, holiness and peace.

Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic wife, mom, grandma, speaker and writer. Catch her blog at

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