by Noel Bouché
When I was young, I couldn’t wait to play tackle football, and when I was finally old enough for the youth league, I could hardly contain myself. At last, I could play the game I loved, I could be like my heroes on TV, I could experience the thrill of playing in front of cheering fans. I was so excited when the first day of practice came that it felt like Super Bowl Sunday—all I wanted to do was go run, throw, catch!
But all that had to wait, because the first thing the coaches told us to do was line up in the equipment room to get fitted for pads. And there was an unstated reality being communicated as they got us outfitted with the right sized gear: we were going to get hit, and sometimes hit hard. That reality made us appreciate the equipment!
That’s the difference between equipping and simply protecting. When someone’s equipped, they know why they’re being protected—and what they’re being protected from.
But too many parents are stopping at protecting. And that’s not enough.
Like a young player placed in a helmet and shoulder pads and thrown into the game with no coaching or training (and hence no technique or awareness), far too many young boys and girls are being released into a digital, sexualized world with no understanding of the scenarios they’ll face and the purpose of the protection we’re trying to provide them. What images might they be shown where? Which cultural messages are deceptions why? Who might try to manipulate or use them how? And what purpose do these parental controls and screen time limits serve?
We only value protection when we understand what it protects us from, and we only understand when we’re taught by someone who has seen the threats before, who has walked the road already, who is actively pursuing a goal with an eye toward the future. In sports, that’s a coach. In life, it’s first and foremost a parent.
And parents, you have what it takes to equip your kids! They want to talk to you, to open up to you, to hear from you—even if they groan, roll their eyes, or seem to tune you out. They’re listening, and learning. They’re being trained up to think and act (Proverbs 22:6), and that training happens through the ongoing dialogue and modeling that we do every day.
In a subsequent post I’ll dig into scriptural strategies and tried-and-true tactics we can employ to equip our kids. But today let’s embrace this principle: when our children are protected and prepared, they’re equipped. When they’re protected but unprepared, they’re sheltered—and, ironically, more exposed.
Check out our free guide to Age-Appropriate Equipping.
Start your journey through Quest: Parenting in a Sexualized Culture.