I’ve been a Mad Men enthusiast from the beginning and it’s one of my favorite shows on television.  Although the in-office scotch drinking and chain smoking provide an entertaining diversion, the real story of the show is the impact self-preservation and personal ambition have on families and relationships.  While it’s convenient to dismiss TV shows as compartmentalized ventures for the mind, there’s much to learn from Mad Men.

Notably absent in Mad Men, are selfless risks.  There is little modeling and listening and they only make appearances in the form of dictation in disciplinary situations.  Most of the thoughtful decisions are highly calculated to minimize risk.  While there is virtue exercising caution, it needs to be considered beyond selfish benefit.

Often times, parents feel like they need to protect their children at all costs, yet the elimination of risk can remit opportunities for children to develop persistent, problem solving skills, and personal responsibility.  Selfless risks are an essential proponent for child development.

For the recent Spring Retreat our high school ministry recently did, we took a number of selfless risks.  Most of our teaching, game leading, and community development initiatives were lead by students.  We prayed with them, for them, and encouraged them, but we knew if if we wanted the retreat to be great we had to be willing to let our students experience failure.  There were some learning moments where we wanted to save the day, but they persevered and finished.  However, there were many more moments of greatness that were impossible apart from selfless risks.

In our house, we have am almost 3 year-old.  I have to remind myself often to consider the potential development of the risks we allow her more than preservation of the living room carpet.

What selfless risks have you taken for your children at different ages?  How have they failed?  Learned?  Developed?