Protect or Prevent

After one of the previous storms (Callum or Betty or whoever…this naming thing seems all very surreal) I was walking around a local woodland and came across these young trees which were encased in protective cases, but the wind had bent them all over the place.


This got me thinking…what happens when the things we do to protect ourselves actually prevent us from developing healthily?

For protection we surround ourselves with people and environments that ensure we feel safe. That is no bad thing, except for when we get to the point when the circle of who we feel and where we feel safe is actually very small. When the surroundings are not only guiding us but forcing us in a certain direction. When suddenly choice and freedom seem too risky, too dangerous.

I am especially aware of this with my daughter. I want her to be this adventurous independent warrior (she seems to innately have a feisty attitude…who knows where she got that) but yet I don’t want her to cause pain to herself or others.

I sometimes expect her to work within boundaries she doesn’t understand (and truth be told are probably irrelevant) and get frustrated when she blatantly ignores instruction (this is a common occurrence! In fact when I was once discussing tone of voice in parenting-I realised my primary tone of voice was pleading/desperation…)

Maybe the things I get most frustrated about are the weaknesses I don’t like in myself. My ability to get easily distracted, my nosiness and clumsiness, my anxiety and fears. So I try and block them out for her and me…I try and focus our activities, I get overly obsessed about getting clean (especially ridiculous when we are at messy play) I vocalise my annoyance at clumsiness.

In trying to protect her from becoming the bits I don’t like about myself, maybe I am preventing her being ‘her’?

Obviously there is a line here, a line of balance in between trying to improve and scolding yourself, in between protection and prevention.

A line that is pretty exposed and vulnerable though.

Acknowledging the parts of ourselves we are trying to hide from.

And our weaknesses make us human, make us real and authentic and broken and alive.

Then I read this the other day;

‘We don’t know what to do with our own weakness but pretend it doesn’t exist…How can we welcome fully the weakness of another if we haven’t welcomed our own weakness?’ 

Jean Vanier in Lisa Gungor ‘The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen’ p215

I reckon in trying to protect Faith from the accidents, the nastiness, the down sides of life, I have also added in a few things I perceive as weaknesses in myself and others.

And here’s the the truth, the whole truth, the ugly truth about me;

  • I am clumsy, and larger than life and I can be embarrassingly uncool.
  • I am lazy and don’t always persevere with things because I can get distracted.
  • I am so nosy, loud and chatty.
  • I can be aggressive and stubborn.

But here is the other truth about it all

  • My clumsiness at times puts people at ease, and reminds me to hold things lightly.
  • I will always know whats good on TV/Netflix and also people will always be my top priority.
  • I want to welcome people and support them. I try and remember things of significance and be the first to speak up and reassure people they are not alone.
  • I am loyal and will defend others, and usually will get the job done!

It is not always pretty but it is a bigger, and I think better picture-when you include all of yourself. The pros and the cons, and in my case my shit fringe.


Because if we try and protect ourselves from our ugly parts, well we start being ashamed and that restricts us. It prevents our growth. And mostly I want Faith to know she is loved, not in spite of her rougher edges and not conditionally. I don’t want her to grow up with fear that others wouldn’t accept her if they knew the ‘real her’. Nobody wins in that scenario.

Back to the young tree issue, saplings if you will, I am no tree expert-although I am a fan-protection is fine until it becomes more harmful than the elements you are protecting them from.

I am no perfect mum…haha, as if anyone actually thought that! But I am her mum, and she has traits of me and her dad (yes, yes she has her dad’s big eyes…and grumpiness but no-one comments on that do they?!) She is learning from me in how to handle life scenarios…I want her to learn to deal with life, not hide from it.



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