As I explained in both No More Christian Nice Guy and Married . . . But Not Engaged, what many of us consider to be manners or decorum, or pleasantness and consideration, are actually fear and passivity. This is vice disguised as virtue, and until we call it what it is and begin changing our belief and practice, we will carry this deception into our parenting, just as we carry it everywhere else.

I’m glad to say that a growing number of Christian parents are bucking the overprotection trend, though they will appear a little odd. They are entering the fray, picking up their swords and raising their voices against the tides of both culture and church that weaken rather than empower. George Barna, in his provocative work Revolution, calls such people ‘‘revolutionaries.’’ A revolutionary might ‘‘feel like the odd person out’’ and be ‘‘embarrassed by language that promises Christian love and holiness but turns out to be all sizzle and no substance.’’

I think Barna’s right. Too many Christian kids have grown up believing that being nice and pleasant is synonymous with being good and righteous. They suffer from this shell game. For many, this indoctrination begins in Sunday School where they learn that “Jesus is your Savior. Now let’s make a rainbow.” It sounds odd to think that they should be making shields and swords instead, but this is the direction the Bible gives us, if only we can surmount our beloved infatuation with well-meaning overprotection.


Paul Coughlin is the author of numerous books, including No More Christian Nice Guy and No More Jellyfish, Chickens or Wimps. He also co-authored a book with his wife, Sandy, for married couples titled Married But Not Engaged. His articles appear in Focus on the Family magazine, and he as been interviewed by Dr. James Dobson, FamilyLife Radio, HomeWord, Newsweek, C-SPAN, The New York Times, and the 700 Club among others. Paul is founder of The Protectors, the faith-based answer to adolescent bullying, which provides curriculum for Sunday Schools, private schools, retreats and individuals that trains people of faith to be sources of light in the theater of bullying. 

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Visit Sandy's website for reluctant entertainers at: