Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Balancing Ignorance with Intelligence as a Parent

To hear my elementary aged children talk about it, the public school they go to is a mix of Lord of the Flies and Fight Club. They come home with wild tales of recess times gone very, very bad. There are stories of children who have been there so long they have to shave after lunch to keep from scaring the kindergartners. There are even legends of ghost children who died on the playground years ago and now only come out on the anniversary of their death, in an attempt to cross over...the monkey bars.

Okay, maybe all of these stories don't exist, but I have had my daughter, on more than one occasion, tell me that if I had any idea what goes on at school during the day...and then she trails off. So I ask her what would happen if I knew. She tells me I would opt to home school them or send them to a private school.

I scoff. Then I ask for an example.

The latest story is about a friend who uses bad language. Since my wife and I have raised the bar on what is acceptable language in our home, I wonder if the words in question are actually bad words, or if they are put-downs that we have outlawed. It's not that I'd be okay with the latter, but it might save some drama.

I'm told the word in question is another word for 'poopy'. My son, who must think I not only work at a church, but was born there and raised there by priests and nuns, proceeds to whisper the actual word to me. I tell him that I am well aware of the bad word in question.

But this tells me a few things about parenting.
Project Parent 365 - Day 1: The Hands

First, it tells me that perhaps our children are feeling the struggle between two worlds. There is the world they have at home, where we have family devotions and discuss love and attend church events. Then there is the world they experience at public school, where not every child comes from a loving home. It's a reality that every Christian lives in. We're citizens of another world, yet we live in this one.

As parents we have to teach our children how to be good examples and stand strong in the face of such pressures.

Secondly, I believe, as parents, we have to take time to ask the follow up questions. Gone are the preschool days when we can tell our children to simply play nice. We have to be aware of what they are dealing with and give them tools to better deal with the realities of life.

Lastly (for today), I know we have to be open and honest with what our children are dealing with. If we close our eyes and stick our heads in the sand, we'll have our children teaching us about the world, instead of the other way around. There is an age appropriateness to this last one, but it involves taking the time to ask the follow up questions and have thorough conversations.

Sometimes we will deal with 'poopy' situations, but parents have been dealing with stuff like that since they day they brought their little bundle of joy home.

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