Once when Cole was about three, we had him in a church service with us. He had to go to the bathroom, so Daddy (Ken) took him out. From my seat near the front, I watched as they re-entered the sanctuary a few minutes later. Ken started walking down the side aisle, and you could just barely see Cole trailing behind–his little head bobbing above the row of seats.

By the time Ken reached the steps down to the lower part of the sanctuary (about 3 steps), Cole was three or four paces behind, and when he reached our row, Cole was a good eight paces behind. And we’re talking Ken-sized paces.

Ken never noticed. He was sliding into our row before he even realized the Cole wasn’t behind him. But not to fear. I had my neck craned and was watching ever step that little guy took. I was ready to scramble over every last person in my row at the first sign of a ‘you-left-me’ whimper.

I couldn’t help but contrast the way that situation would have played out if I were the one who had taken Cole out. I would have been holding his hand the whole time, helping him down each step. I would have led him to our row, and waited until he entered first. And if I had my way, he would still be under my watchful care at all times, even though he is now twelve years old.

I think Ken and I are probably typical of a lot of parents. The Mom is protective and watchful and diligently works to circumvent harmful possibilities and negative influences. While the Dad confidently walks ahead of his children, leading with confidence and without coddling or bubble wrap.

After fifteen years of parenting, here’s what I’ve learned: We’re both right.

Who knew? I always thought Ken was being terribly irresponsible. I was constantly trying to teach him to bubble wrap like I did. Thank goodness he didn’t listen. We’d have some pretty wimpy kids if he had. I’ve come to realize that our kids benefit from both approaches, and we compliment each other. (Let’s hope I can remember this when it’s time to talk about drivers licenses and dating!)

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