There is a dilemma that all parents face when raising their children. Desiring to keep them as innocent as possible for as long as possible is what lurks behind this conundrum. And the decision made in each family is the right decision—even when the decisions differ from family to family and even from child to child.
The issue at hand?
Do we as parents talk about “bad things” in a way that allows us to introduce the “good things?” And if we do, how “bad” can “bad” be without being too “bad?” And, of course, every parent’s definition of “bad” is different.
How do we equip our children to live in the world—and be salt and light—without robbing them of their innocence?
Is this even possible? More importantly: Is it necessary?
Can you talk to your young daughter about chastity without telling her—in honest language—what she will encounter in the world of boys?
Can you speak to your young son about temptation and hormones—in a realistic way—without introducing characteristics that girls exhibit at some point in their development?
So what is a parent to do?
We may want to put our head in the sand—or choose to believe that the best form of protection of innocence is denial. Yet that just isn’t the case. Maybe we feel ill-equipped ourselves to speak on subjects such as chastity but the answer isn’t to ignore the topic and hope it will go away—or to hide our children in hopes that this will keep them from confronting such things.
What we need to do is find great resources. The hallmark of a great resource (typically a book) is that it provides a third-party place where we can meet our kids. We ought to read it and they ought to read it. We can read it together, over time. Or separately and “compare notes.”
Our kids need to see it (the book in this example) as honest and forthright. It doesn’t make them roll their eyes because it is unrealistic or ignores the truth of what they are experiencing—or will be experiencing. In the meantime, it upholds our morals and values. We don’t have to compromise but can approach our expectations in light of what our kids are experiencing.
A great resource may introduce something we previously thought of as “bad” but in light of seeing how it allows us to honestly talk to our kids about the “good,” we see the value. It is never so bad that it does damage; rather it is an honest roadmap for our kids to use in their own journey towards adulthood. In All Things Girl: Truth for Teens, for instance, we emphasize that dating is with an intention towards marriage while also frankly—yet appropriately—discussing traits of boys. In a story-like setting we introduce The Octopus, The Cheater and The Narcissist while exploring The Nice Guy, The Hard-worker and The Brainiac.
Great resources create a groundswell of opportunity for discussions with our children. They give food for thought and nourishment for the soul. Great resources can’t be underestimated. They are a critical roadmap—something that will guide our kids to become all that God intended them to be and will support us, as parents, to help them along the way.
(illustratoin: ID 41185650 Chayunt Varapok Dreamstime.com)