Parenting Philosophy, Part I: To Shelter or Not to Shelter

I was perusing KSL today (Cole has turned me into a bit of a news junkie) and I ran across an interesting article:

Reading this article (and a few others in a series called Motherhood Matters) opened up my blogging possibilities and gave me the idea for a new series of posts about my parenting philosophies. Here is the first.

As my kids are growing and beginning to understand more of the world around them, I've thought a lot about how closely Cole and I should monitor the things that they watch and read and hear and play with. So far, the only thing that I've come up with is that I need more time to decide. 

Don't get me wrong--it's very important to me that my children are protected from the poisonous things with which we are surrounded these days. But, at the same time, I can't protect them forever, and what happens when that day comes? How will they handle the onslaught of worldly influences that will surely come when they venture out on their own? Isn't it smarter for me to teach them how to handle the unsavory things of this world rather than try to shut them out completely?

From my experience, banning anything (be it toys, or movies, books, or TV shows) makes it that much more alluring to children--so much so that they may seek it out without your knowledge. If my children are going to absorb information, I'd rather be there to answer their questions and address their concerns rather than let them try to do it by themselves. 

Now for the confessions...

Kyle watches Power Rangers. One of his favorite movies is The Sandlot (those kids have POTTY mouths!). I admit that we are not particularly vigilant about what he watches, i.e. there is nothing that he is expressly prohibited from watching. He is not particularly violent, he doesn't use bad language, and he is a generally mild-mannered child. I fully believe it is because we have been able to teach him what is right and what is wrong based on what he has seen. If we heard him repeating an off-color phrase from a movie, we explain to him that it's something we don't say in our house. We explained to him that Power Rangers don't use their karate moves to hit their brothers--only bad guys (I guess we'll handle what constitutes a 'bad guy' later). The concepts of 'right' and 'wrong' are still so abstract to a child Kyle's age, and we've used the things he's seen in movies and on TV to help us make those concepts more concrete.

Do I feel like a bad mom? No, I don't. I look at it like a general waging a war against evil. A general doesn't fight a war only by fortifying and defending his troops. He sends spies to observe the enemy's tactics so he knows the enemy's plan of attack and can better plan his defense. I'm doing the same thing: if I know how Satan is planning to attack my family, I can better plan a defense and teach my children how to defend themselves against his advances. 

I don't always know what I'm doing as a parent and I can't say that I have a definitive plan when it comes to being a parent. However, the one thing I want more than anything is to be able to have open lines of communication with my children as they grow. I want them to be able to come to me with ANY of their concerns with the knowledge that they will never be criticized, belittled, or judged. I feel like the best way to develop this relationship is to start by being as open and honest as I can with them, no matter the question or issue. 

Check back later for a post about discussing the birds and the bees with your kids.

1 comment:

that's what she said...

I have a friend that does homeschool for her kids. It's not an odd situation-they do it with several other families as like a co-op thing. When I was asking her why she chose to do it her response was..."I don't want to shelter my kids from the world completely. I want them to experience it and understand how to make choices between right and wrong. I just don't want them to spend 8 hours a day in the world from the time that they're barely 5 years old." I thought that was interesting. Doesn't mean I necessarily want to homeschool my kids, but it does help influence how I shelter them or not.

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