Outside These Walls

June 19th, 2011

A few days ago I was sitting at a friend’s house. She has a child. Not small, but not grown. I think he is seven or eight. My son mentioned something about a TV show, and judging by my five-year-old’s taste, it was probably Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Duck Tales, Fraggle Rock or Batman. I didn’t pay attention to what show it was, but my friend’s son had no idea what he was talking about. My friend looked at me like I had killed a kitten and said, “You let your child watch that?! It’s so violent!” Okay, so it wasn’t Duck Tales or Fraggle Rock. One of the others, probably.

I reacted to my friend in my own words, but I decided to write a bit more on it…

First: We grew up watching Wile E. Coyote try to blow up the Roadrunner. Does it being a cartoon make it less violent? I *still* love watching that, and I don’t think I turned out to be a very violent person…

Second: I do not let the television teach my child… on its own. I use the situations he sees on TV as teaching opportunities. I use what happens in front of his eyes to talk about what a character should have done in reaction to whatever happened. We talk about the words that should be said, what shouldn’t be said, when to stand up for himself, and when to walk away.

Third: You can’t hide the world from your kids forever. There are a lot of things in the world. A lot of bad things. As a parent, I understand the feeling of wanting to protect your child from the horrible things in this world. I really do. But, one day, your child is going to grow up and be on his or her own. This is something that you cannot stop, no matter how hard you try. And once your little birdie leaves your nest, they have to handle the evils of the world on their own.

Letting your child see the things in this world as they are growing up, gives you an opportunity to talk about and teach your kids how to handle all the things they will be faced with once you aren’t there to hold their hand. It really won’t be long before they will be standing out in the world, without any shelter at all. They need to be ready for it.

My story:

I was blessed with some pretty incredible parents. My parents weren’t perfect as teenagers and young adults… Those of you who know them, know that they were far from perfect. In fact, a lot of my dad’s high school classmates can’t believe he’s a pastor now. They weren’t perfect parents, but I am proud of the way they raised the five of us.

When I was a teenager, my parents never told me that I couldn’t drink. They never told me that I couldn’t smoke. They never said, “You can’t do drugs.” They didn’t encourage me to do these things, by any means. But they never said those words every teenager dreads, you can’t. Those two words are so powerful because they make a teenage brain think, wanna bet?!

I am not here to make any parents feel bad at all. But I believe that a big part of the reason for the teenage drinking, smoking and drugs, is how children are raised. Of course that isn’t the only factor, but I know the power of you can’t. That contribution is made for one of two reasons. Either the parents are too laid back and don’t do anything about it, even encourage it; or parents take the completely opposite direction and say it is forbidden. In that case, it’s 100% rebellion paired with curiosity.

I do believe that parents mean well when they say, “you can’t.” They don’t want anything bad to happen to their babies. What lacks is the reasoning. Most parents say, “don’t!,” but don’t follow with why it’s a bad idea. That’s the key to children understanding their parents intentions. Most teenagers think their parents are just trying to stop them from having fun. The reality, of course, is that they know what can happen when something goes drastically wrong during the ‘fun.’

My parents never hid their past from me. Individually or together. They’ve told me about things they’ve done, in complete detail. I remember my dad’s exact words, regarding all things to which parents simply say, “NO.” His words were, “I can tell you my experiences and hope you learn from my mistakes, or you can go out and make your own. Either way, if you really want to do something, you’re going to do it whether I say it’s okay or not.”

I am blessed because my parents realized, even when I was a teenager, that if a kid is determined to do something, they will find a way to do it. And honestly, I believe that was what kept me, and my siblings, from being seriously wild children. We weren’t sheltered. We knew what was out there in the world, and my parents took the time to teach us why things were bad, as well as the right from the wrong. We turned out okay, didn’t we? I am proud of that, and hope I can raise my son just as well.

And that, dear friend, is why I let my son watch the ‘violent’ TV shows I was raised watching. So I can prepare him to handle the world outside the walls of my home.

Thanks, Mom & Dad.

One Response to “Outside These Walls”

  1. dad on June 19, 2011 6:32 pm

    You’re welcome *Munkie*! We love you! Mom & Dad

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