Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Innocence


 

Lately I have been thinking a lot about preserving the innocence of my children. Eric and I consider it to be one of our most important duties as parents-- to let our children grow up as children, not too fast. This manifests itself in many ways and it feels like we are always trying to protect them from ink in the water, it just seems impossible to do, but we must try. Naturally we protect them from inappropriate media and try to shelter them from it in daily life. Often this means that we cannot watch the news with children around. I learned this the hard way when Cordelia happened to pass by the TV, when I was watching the morning weather forecast, and she saw that there had been a tornado in another state. That evening the high winds terrified her as she thought a tornado was bearing down on our home. I can't imagine what would've happened if she'd passed by a news story about a violent crime!

The protection doesn't stop there, I've also had to ask people to please watch their mouths around little ones ( Yes, I know it is an individual's right, I ask as a personal courtesy). Many people shrug and accept my request, but I get the sense that they're thinking, "Your kid is gonna here these words." They are right, of course, but I don't want that for them now. I want to keep them in a bubble of safety, an illusion for sure, until they are bigger and more able to navigate this beautiful and terrible world in which we live. While Eric and I are ever vigilant it is not just directed at violence, obscenity, etc., it's also from little things.

For instance, yesterday we were at the mall and Cordelia asked me to define the word fat, no idea where she heard the word. I realized that she didn't know what fat was. I was happy that for at least four years this little girl has been completely oblivious. She has no body issues and she has no issues with any body. If only that could last!

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We were at the store recently and the girls were interacting with a child of a different race. I wondered for a moment if there would be any questions about skin color. I must make note here that we unfortunately live in a community with almost zero diversity (unless you consider different types of European ancestry diverse). While we expose them to different races in other ways (dolls, media) you just never know. Anyway, none of the children seemed to register that they were of a different race.

We also worry about these girls maturing too quickly. Obviously we have all seen the news stories about this subject, but it is easy to see the big picture and miss the small ways that it infiltrates our lives. For instance, I was looking for a swimsuit  for one of the girls last year and I had the hardest time finding something that wasn't a two piece. I am not offering a judgment about the way you dress your kid, but for Eric and I, we have decided to promote modesty for as long as possible. I am also limiting the toys, dolls, videos, etc. that don't align themselves with our beliefs. You know, with all of the spare time we have...

Finally, I don't want the girls to worry too much. We shield them from any discussion that might give them undue worry. I don't want Cordelia to overhear a discussion about our student loans and translate that into something that makes her feel insecure about her home and life. So Eric and I try to limit discussions that could potentially be taken in by little ears and translated into something frightening. We keep any adult discussions for adult ears only.

Additionally, we try to limit their understanding of certain things that they might hear or see in daily life. We discuss things like homelessness, world hunger, etc., but we try to keep it to a degree that doesn't leave them feeling helpless or unable to impact change. We recently packed boxes for children in need and we discussed, in vague terms, that there are people less fortunate than us. I didn't go into details that would leave them feeling hopeless. I want them to feel empowered. I do want the girls to be empathetic toward others, but I certainly limit the amount of information that they receive. Obviously the vegan issue is a great way to highlight this point; we do tell her the basic facts about our vegan beliefs, but we don't discuss the horrors of the slaughterhouse or anything .

So, basically this was just a rambling post, but I would love to hear how you have worked to protect your children's innocence.

3 comments:

affectioknit said...

I definitely know what you mean...when Scout was little he went to a Catholic School for Kindergarten and 1st grade...and one day he came home and said that someone had been sent to the office for saying the 'S' word...shocked...I asked what that was and he whispered..you know mama 's-t-u-p-i-d' spelled out because he couldn't bring himself to say it...a while later the same exact thing happened with the 'F' word...know what it was...'f-a-t'...so he learned those ugly words then...and I'm sure he knows the real S and F words now...but he chooses not to use any of them...hopefully that will last as well...peer pressure can be mighty...

~Stay safe and have a lovely day!

Marie Roxanne said...

I hear you about the races thing. I was a little girl of 3 years old and never saw anyone of "color" yet, and a black man came into the elevator with my mom and me, I looked at him up and down and said to the man - "you have dirty hands" The man smiled and my mom almost died of embarrassment. (I have no idea why I only focused on the hands? LOL)
I taught my child that skin color is not important and helping the poor (by giving them a meal instead of money on a street corner) is good education and he learned well from my example.

Mom said...

Do you remember when you were 4 and we banned you from the news after you 1) asked for a body guard and
2) kept running in from play to check the tv to see if Mt. Ranier (volcano) had blown its top. After turning off the 6pm new awhile I realized that I, too, felt better. I know I need to be aware of the world's events but I have to limit my own exposure.

As for the modesty issue, since you didn't even want your collar bone to show, that was not an issue at our house!

You guys are wonderful parents. I wish every child had such thoughtful attention from his/her parents.

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