Bedtime seems to be a place of interesting conversations with my children. On one hand, I love that they enjoy talking with me, on the other hand, sometimes I just want to clock out for the day from being a parent (let’s be honest) so I am ready to tell the story, pray the prayer, and get out. There are times with my son, though, I stick around longer to field any questions he has stored up throughout the day. Often they are whimsical, and other times they are pretty deep. One day, he had questions that I couldn’t easily answer without introducing him to a world that didn’t exist for him as of yet.
This day was one that we had driven a lot around downtown Indianapolis. We had our fun, ate our meals, and came home to pour ourselves into bed. Children, as you know, don’t always feel that sleep is as urgent as we do. My son started the “question machine” and by the nature of the questions, I could tell that I was going to be there a while. The inquiries ranged from the intricacies of the Power Rangers storyline to ones deeper, and more theological in nature. The last question led to an explanation I wanted to avoid.
“Dad, today when we were out, why were people sleeping on the sidewalk”. I wasn’t really understanding what he meant until I thought about our day. He was speaking about the homeless people that we passed. I had the uncomfortable conversation about how there are some people who do not have homes, enough food, or even a family. For my son, this conversation ended in tears, and his heart visibly broke for these people. I felt convicted, because I had been so desensitized to the sight that I didn’t realize he noticed.
At first, I felt horrible that I had never exposed my children to this concept. Then, I realized what happened because I didn’t. My son, was so heartbroken by the sight that he wanted to do something about it. Granted, there could have been a better and more deliberate way I presented the concept to him before this, but the fact that he was sheltered from it caused him to see that there was something not right. I also realized we need to speak about this more in our home.
The same can be said about so many other areas of life. Cursing, sexuality, graphic violence, and addictions…the list could go on. I shelter my children from these things for 2 main reasons. First, because I want to guard their hearts from pollution, and secondly because I want them to enter a world in which they are so thrown off by sin and pain that they recognize that it is not normal or “okay”…thus desiring to make the world better. I want them to be emotionally shattered by injustice so that they develop a holy anger to make things right. Also, I want to be the one (along with my wife) that helps them navigate their feelings in a healthy way when they do encounter the unknown. That way, we can also shelter them from hating those who are different or looking down on those who they don’t understand.
Why have we decided, as a nation, that is is now okay to slowly poison our children’s souls so they are immune to the “real world” when they enter it? Why have we decided it is okay to steal our children’s innocence by forcing them into a life of pain from nearly day one?
Now, I want you to understand my heart. In no way am I judging the methods by which other parents raise their children, because judgement involves condemnation and sentencing. What I am saying is…I want people to know my strategy and passion, so that they can either embrace or disregard based on their own views.
So, my kids are the ones that have never said or heard course language, watched that one show, and who call adults Mr. and Mrs. I understand you are concerned that they may rebel due to strictness, but I will pray on how to handle that if it happens. I have a great support system with my church, family, and friends that will come in handy during this time. Plus, they have free will and their own individual life purposes, but I want to show them it is possible to be a Godly person in private and in public. Parenting is so much more than simply keeping our kids alive until they leave home. It is a process in which we pour ourselves into them and invest in the future of humanity.
That’s my take on it. Take it or leave it.
Love you all.