Why The Best Way to Protect Our Children is to Prepare Them
By Amanda Grossman-Scott
I watch as my daughter makes an angel in the snow. Her eyes gaze up at the sky. She is full of concentration and pure bliss. She calls to me to show me the ‘best angel she’s ever made!’
“It looks like there was an angel sleeping in our backyard last night!” She says.
I wonder at her innocence. I’m in awe of her pure joy. I want nothing more than to protect her and her siblings. My instinct is to keep them all folded in the warmth and safety of my arms; to never let them go. I want them to never see the sad and terrifying things in the world. I want to protect them with all that I am. But I can’t.
At least, not in the way I’d prefer. My wish for my children is that they never have to know about monsters, both literal and figurative. I’d rather not have to warn them be wary of people and situations.
But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t prepare them. So I protect them by preparing them. By teaching them about the wonder and beauty of their bodies and minds. By warning them that there are those who would corrupt and hurt them if they got the chance. I wish I didn’t have to, but I teach them that not all people are good.
Of course, they find this out on their own soon enough. Hurt feelings and bruised egos at school. I explain that some children are unhappy, that some parents fail to make them feel safe and secure. That some parents allow them to be exposed to things young eyes shouldn’t see or hear. That some children and people are hurting inside and this is why they hurt others.
I protect them by teaching them to be kind to everyone, but aware that they must protect themselves and listen to their instincts first. I help them to understand to watch for the warning signs.
I want to keep them within arm’s reach; but each day I see them taking another step away toward independence. And I see that I must continue to protect them, but the older they get, the more I understand that this protection is all about preparation. That we need to discuss specific scenarios. That we can practice saying “No” when something doesn’t feel right. There are hundreds of conversations I need to have with them; that every parent needs to have with their child. I’m glad we started talking at a young age, but I know these talks must continue and with even more frequency if I am to do my job as a parent properly. If I am to protect my children by preparing them.
With all the many talks we’ve had: strangers, pedophiles, predators -all of it- my children aren’t afraid to go out into the world. In fact, I think they feel empowered. They know what’s out there and we’ve talked about how to handle bad or scary situations. Surprisingly, they don’t seem to have lost their innocence. On the contrary, they wonder at all the good things in the world that can still exist with all the bad. My kids are ready because I’m protecting them by preparing them.
See our book 30 Days of Sex Talks for ages 3-7, 8-11 and 12+ to find ways to start conversations about topics like this; including lessons and activities to empower your child with knowledge of sexual intimacy!