Thursday, April 30, 2015

Teach Your Children Well

Almost every parent I've ever met wants to teach their children well. They may have differing ideas of what to teach their children or of how to teach their children, but by-and-large, parents want the best for their children. (I am not addressing those extreme parents who do not have a desire to do the right thing by their children; that is a separate issue entirely.)
Created for a beautiful "rainbow" family, $60.00

I've written in the past how teaching my African-American (now adult) son involved teaching him things specific to being an African-American male. These things have come to mind this week, given the events in Baltimore. A friend and fellow blogger has spent some time teaching her young son well; she writes about that here.

But a couple of days ago, I had to teach my 8 year old daughter something I would rather have avoided. She is of mixed race, but her learning didn't have anything to do with race.

You see, we were attending a ministry retreat far away from home. It was at a gorgeous canyon camp  in Oklahoma, and there were only about 7 children and youth in attendance. While the parents studied and talked, the kids were allowed to play freely in this lovely place. They hiked, played basketball, climbed and jumped, golfed, and goofed around. It was an amazing experience in freedom for our wee one. She was allowed to go anywhere, as long as she stayed with the other girls (4 total, ranging from 5-13 years old). There were three boys, all significantly older, and one younger boy who stayed with his parents.

One afternoon, the 13-year-old girl came quietly into the conference room and whispered to me, "Your daughter wouldn't come back with us; she's playing down at the playground with the boys." I could tell by her tone that she understood the danger in this.

Not that these boys seemed dangerous or unruly! From what I saw, they were nice young men, but I didn't know them, and they ranged in age from 12ish-15ish...Anything from innocent curiosity to intentional cruelty could hurt my 8 year old. It was just a bad combination: little girl and adolescent boys.

But oh, my! My 8 year old didn't understand. She was distraught that she couldn't play with the boys... and I finally decided I had to tell her why. Even though I didn't want to ruin her innocence. Even though I didn't want her to learn to be afraid. She was just so sure she was right and that she should be allowed to hang out with the boys.

So we had our first girls/women-have-to-be-careful talk. I hated it as much as I hated having the hands-visible-no-sudden-motions talk I had with my son 13 or so years ago when he was learning to drive.

I think it went okay. She didn't seem afraid of the bigger boys, and she was willing to obey the directive to stay with the girls. But a piece of her childhood is over. And that makes me sad. To learn that someone might hurt you... that's a sad learning.

I will be glad when God's Kingdom comes to fruition and our children (and WE) can return to the innocence God intended for  us!

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