A friend with younger children asked me yesterday if there things that I didn’t want my children to learn. I thought this was an interesting question. I have to say I have been scratching around trying to think if there were things I didn’t want them to know about.
I guess when they were younger especially, I wanted to protect them from many of the negative things that go on in the world. One of the reasons we don’t have a TV (except for the Olympics at the the moment!) is that I don’t want them knowing about all the bad things happening, the things that we call The News. I do find this obsession with all things bad very hard. I know that what you focus on in life you get.
I also know there are millions of amazing and wonderful people doing positive and inspiring things all over the planet everyday, but unfortunately, good news doesn’t seem to make the grade as mainstream news does.
So I find the positive in books, music, nature, and by surrounding myself with positive people. Then I try to pass this on to my children.
But, if something comes up, something they have heard mentioned or seen on The News at someones house, then I will do my best to answer honestly, in a way that is appropriate to their age and maturity. How hard it is when your 5 year old asks you what rape is. When any young child asks why people lay land mines, massacre other people and ignore world hunger it really is impossible for me to answer as I myself do not know how we have come to be living in a world where these things happen.
I see a young child’s life as sacrosanct. I see my role as exposing them to everything I can, but filtered through my rose tinted glasses (I am a glass half full sort of person, a Pollyanna).
But also I have a sense that you can never un-hear things once heard!
My biggest fear has always been them being abducted, and whenever they have been out of my sight for even a few seconds I see newspaper headlines flashing before my eyes…. I have not wanted to pass on my fear to them, but have also wanted to show them how to be safe, who to talk to if you need help etc. I stay positive though and remind them that most people in the world are wonderful, helpful and just lovely. And they are. This is backed up through our experience of meeting new people when we are away, camping, traveling and make new friends out of strangers in a short time. I love that! Ollie is really good at this, he seems to collect younger children especially and has new friends wherever we go.
So I guess as they grow and the opportunities arise, the more unsavoury aspects of the human race become apparent to them. But hopefully this is coupled with a mostly positive experience in their own lives. My wish for them is to know that they can make a difference.
In terms of other topics, that can have negative spin offs, I try to be up front, honest and trust that if they are asking they really want to know. I heard some good advice once. If a child is asking about, say sex, and you doubt whether they are ready to hear about it just ask them if they really want to know.
I had vague, but grand plans about having a big talk to my kids when the time was right about them growing up as sexual beings. But as it happened it was just another question being asked by a curious child, while I was cooking dinner or saying goodnight.
This only served to remind me that kids are very in the moment, very interested in everything life has to offer and are susceptible to any ideas/feelings you have about a topic that they will pick up.
I am careful to own my own ideas and opinions and not push them on to the kids. Also to let them be themselves and accept their opinions as valid for them
I know for me it works best to be open and not withhold information. I am naturally very honest, so find this very easy. The kids are naturally very inquisitive so it is a winning formula really!
We have alot of open discussions. I can’t remember ever thinking – “I don’t want to tell you this.” I don’t think telling them about drug dealers will make them want to be one.
I am so grateful and so amazed by the kids curiosity. It seems to be a big part of the way they learn so I embrace it.