Are You Protecting or Preparing Your Kids?

What is the main objective in parenting? Is it to protect your kids from the evils of this world or is it to prepare them to live in it? I’ll admit I’m not the most qualified to answer this question because I’m young, newly married, and have no kids of my own, but I have learned a few things along the way that help me answer that question. The main objective is parenting is not protecting your kids. Before you stop reading this and claim “I don’t know what I’m talking about” let me explain.

Take a greenhouse for an example. This illustration comes from Mike Calhoun’s book The Greenhouse Project. In the book, he compares a greenhouse to how we do student ministry, but I want to compare it to parenting because it’s very similar. Mike says, “The basic purpose of a greenhouse is to prepare plants for life outside the greenhouse. Plants are given food, water, sunshine, and heat to grow enough so that they can survive and thrive outside of that environment…The greenhouse is not the end result. It is a place of growth and maturity. It is a place of safety and security. The ultimate objective of a greenhouse is for the plants to make it outside.”

Did you catch that? Plants are prepared in the greenhouse to make it outside and thrive. The whole point of the greenhouse is to prepare them to get out of the greenhouse.

I believe our parenting should be the same way. I’ll even go as far as to say that this model of parenting is Biblical. Your kids will be out of your care and protection one day. They will leave for college, get married, and have a family of their own. They will leave your “greenhouse” whether you like it or not. But here is the good news. You have the opportunity right now to prepare them for that transition out of your “greenhouse.” You have the opportunity to impart God’s Word and the Gospel to them so they are prepared to survive and thrive on their own. Stop just protecting your kids, this will not help them in the future! Do something that will help them, prepare them!

As parents, you are called to love and pursue God personally, then pass that on to your children (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). You are commanded by God to teach them God’s Word and help them follow Jesus. This isn’t simply protection because following Jesus isn’t always safe. When your child tells you God has called them to go into a foreign mission field to spread the Gospel, what will you say? A parent that sees their primary objective to be protection may try to talk them out of it or find a way to make it more “safe.” A parent that sees their primary objective as preparatory will embrace it and be thankful God has chosen their child for such a noble task. There are many examples I could use here, but this is one. Parents must prepare their children to live and function with an authentic faith. This will require you to lose some control as they learn to apply their walk with Jesus to every area of their life.

So what are you doing parents? Are you protecting your kids or preparing them for a live of following Jesus?

Published by Austin McCann

Austin is the student ministries director at Redemption Chapel in Stow, OH. He has a BA from Piedmont International University and a Master of Arts in Religion with a Christian leadership focus from Liberty University School of Divinity. Austin enjoys reading, writing, playing basketball and golf, and spending time with his family.

Join the Conversation


  1. I totally agree. And many parents have not yet thought of it that way. Richard Ross (of True Love Waits fame and teaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) says the same thing. He asked us at a conference one time, “Am I preparing my daughter to become a Christian missionary and possible martyr in an Arab country? Can I trust her with Christ enough to be proud of her when she goes away to serve Jesus, even if I might now see her again except in a coffin?” A chilling question.

    I believe, too, that while greenhouse parenting has always been appropriate parenting, it might be even more important than ever. Because the next American generation will need Christian skills that I have not yet needed. Our culture will get worse, not better. I want my students (and my own children) to be prepared. (See my blog at for more on that issue.)

    May the Lord bless you and keep you, brother! See you Facebook.

    1. Aaron,

      Thanks for leaving some awesome thoughts! I loved what you said about greenhouse parenting being even more important today because students need Christian skills in our culture that is getting worse and worse. Keep doing huge things for Jesus man!


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s