I am all for protecting the hearts and minds of kids from bad junk that ain't good for them. The main focus of my protection is definitely geared toward my own children. I live with them and am faced with the consequences of letting them do things that would be detrimental to their thinking, character or overall health. So, yeah, their protection is something I have to consider relentlessly. I would say I am their number one protector as a parent, well, God's looking out for them, too, I believe and that puts my mind at ease quite a bit.
I think when little kids watch movies that are too scary for them that it's no good. I don't believe they'll die, but I don't think it's good. Kids are required to do a myriad of things each day and need to get to bed by a certain time, but even then no one is going to be scarred for life if they don't get to bed on time each night. It may make life rough for mom if there is not a schedule, but things can be adjusted as life comes and it'll be fine in the end.
Boundaries are the stuff that keeps things running smoothly with kids and it's a good thing, but some of us parents can be way overprotective and to the point of insanity. I know because I was one of those parents. I was definitely following the example of my predecessors and thinking I was doing something good by building the walls high and strong around my little children and to the point of exhaustion. I don't intend to stop protecting my kids but only to examine this pattern of paranoia that has been created in my kids as the result of yours truly.
When your kid is in the bath tub with his bathing suit on because he thinks it is a sin to be naked in front of God, then you know you have got a problem. And granted, this particular kid is extreme about everything, so that could be part of the problem, but, too, I could definitely see how he could misunderstand what me and my husband were teaching him and how we hyper-focused on this idea of "never being naked in front of anyone other than your spouse" way too much. Now, we still don't advocate or allow our kids running through the house wild and naked(well, unless they are 2 and under, well, 3 and under) and especially since they are getting older, but we are much more lax about that and everything else in our effort to re-examine our over protection.
It took weeks of my reasoning with my son to get him to understand that he was absolutely not sinning against God if he took a bath naked. He was so wrought over possibly offending God that he even cried about the idea of taking a bath like normal people do. Total paranoia. Eventually he did get over it after much encouragement from me on the subject. He didn't always think that way, but somewhere, somehow he began to adopt this kind of thinking. I can only think it was us, the parents, causing him to be this paranoid and possibly people from the Christian circles we used to be in. So, wow, that hit me like a ton of bricks. Am I creating paranoid kids as I flesh out my walk with Christ on this earth?
That is a question that takes some serious thought and consideration and right now it is an on going question for me in this journey as a parent and as a Christian. I wish I could go back and have a re-do, but I can't. I can only acknowledge now that I do not want to have kids that are in a panic over offending God, me or anyone else. A healthy concern for what others may think only comes from a healthy relationship with those people first, doesn't it? And even then, that concern comes from a heart that is willing and wanting to have such concern and that kind is truly genuine. The concern shouldn't come from paranoia or panic or worry or fear or anxiety. What kind of life would that be or more importantly, what kind of relationship would that be?
We recently went to church for Easter. I figure, it's Easter, we should be in church on Easter, right? So, I gave in and went, a little reluctantly, but we went. The kids went to the Sunday school they had. And just for the record, my kids tell me everything. One thing my boys were telling me after it was all over was that the guy in charge of teaching them that day had told them if they didn't close their eyes during prayer that they would disrespect the fellow believers in the room and disrespect God and that if they were caught with their eyes open that they would be sent to the auditorium with their parents. And to that I say, huh?
More paranoia. I can understand the need for the teacher to keep the peace in class by telling them not to goof off in class or during prayer, but telling them this kind of stuff? Is it really necessary and does God really see things this way, too, when it comes to prayer? Do we have to close our eyes when we pray? Where is that in the bible? Do we need to use guilt or fear to get kids to understand something or see something? Does God discount the hundreds of prayers that I have prayed over the years with my eyes open? Does a child take this so literally that he will never pray with his eyes open ever again because he literally believes that God will literally be ready to punish him for keeping his eyes open during his prayers? Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it, but really, kids take things literally and we need to be careful how we flesh out this Christian life in front of them and what we say and how we represent God and the bible matters big time. We all need to be careful.
I need to be careful. I am with my kids the most and this point really hits home hard. And with eyes wide open sitting here at my computer typing away I pray in my mind, God, help me to be careful with who you are, what you are, what your word really says and what it really does not say. Help me to make it clear what is truly clear and only discuss the unclear in the light of what it really is, just unclear or imprecise. May I not draw up absolutes where there are none. And most importantly, in my goal of undoing paranoia in my kids is to build up, not high, over protective walls, but a healthy view of God, His love, and His real word and His ways so that one day my kids would be drawn into His forgiveness and into a reality of who He truly is. His yoke is easy and His burden is light and His love constrains us, not paranoia.