“Papa, do you think Christianity will be outlawed in our country?”
Our grandson looked at Stan, waiting for an answer. His question took our breath away. If we think children are just “being kids” and not feeling the stress of growing up in the twenty-first century, we are missing golden opportunities to encourage them. The stresses adults are feeling today are being passed down to the children.
We all agree physical safety is a critical part of parenting. But, emotional safety is more elusive and no product on a shelf can produce it. This only requires one thing—parents and grandparents. Nothing can create a sense of emotional safety for our children like we can. What if our homes were the safest places in the world? Everyone would want to move in.
One of our favorite authors is Dr. Joshua Straub. Here are some words from his book, Safe House: How Emotional Safety is the Key to Raising Kids Who Live, Love, and Lead Well
“There are threats in our homes that didn’t exist a generation ago. We’re navigating a whole new world of raising children in the twenty-first century. New cultural norms, devices, social media, and an overabundance of information and conflicting messages have created a confusing and convoluted world for our kids and us. And the speed with which the culture is changing can make our heads spin.
That’s why building a safe house has never been more critical for a generation of parents and the kids we love and raise … Emotional safety is the key to raising kids who thrive in all areas of life.”
With our immediate goal of physical safety, the goal of raising emotionally mature kids has to remain forefront in our minds. We must create a safe place where our children can begin to understand their identity, who they were created to be, and how they are to live according to that identity.
The charge from Scripture is for parents to create a safe place, filled with safe people, where safe words are spoken.
“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”
— Proverbs 3:21-24 (ESV)
By safe place, I mean a place where our children can do all those things that children like to do. They are able do them without fear and without pressure. Without worries and hurries, they can be creative, imaginative, and free to explore. Their play does not always need the involvement of parents—just encouraged and protected by parents.
A safe home is a place of “mind rest.” We actively protect our children from “too much” and encourage them to rest both in body and relationship. They are allowed time for un-stressful, creative activities.
No matter what we face as a family or individually, our home will be a place of rest and peace, protected by love.
The quality of our presence with them in our home will one day determine the quality of our kids’ presence in theirs. —Joshua Straub
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20 (ESV)
What ultimately makes a safe place “safe”? The people. The child is safely allowed to feel. Children need adults who will listen to their questions, concerns, and, yes, negative emotions, without condemnation or judgment.
“Is this good?” “Is this bad?” “Should I be feeling or thinking that?”
Psychologist John Gottman explains, “My child isn’t giving me a hard time. My child is having a hard time.” Understanding the difference matters. Our children need adults in their lives who will love them purposely, help them calm down, and not enter into their negative emotions or anger.
Safe words (wisdom)
“The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence. The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom and humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 3:21-24 (ESV)
Safe words are words filled with wisdom. The constant theme of Proverbs is that wisdom is a protection guarding us from the snares of foolishness.
Most of our parenting is with words. With our words, we exhort, validate, correct, encourage, and direct. Understanding and grace must come before problem-solving and discipline. If not, truth will be perceived as criticism and condemnation.
No matter the age of your children, there is no better time to evaluate your interactions with them and your home environment. Does your home feel relaxed, peaceful, and “safe?” Do you talk to your kids with grace and understanding? Are “safe words” being spoken daily, words based on biblical thinking?
Here is more wisdom from Dr. Joshua Straub.
“[Parents are] passionate about the emotional and relational dangers coming against our children. Being aware now of these dangers makes it possible to be proactive about building a Safe House so that years later we’re not fighting against a tide of rebellion, distance, and irreversibly poor choices. This doesn’t mean they won’t rebel or make mistakes, but it does mean we’re setting ourselves –biblically and scientifically—for a better chance of raising them to live, love, and lead well.”
For more about creating a culture of faith, security, and love in your home, consider our book, Raising Kids for Tomorrow’s World: 12 Keys to Preserving the Faith.