Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Feeling My Way

I've just finished reading Walking On Water. I really can't sum it all up neatly, it's one of those books you'll either hungrily devour or else you won't be able to get into it at all and it will sit on the shelf and collect dust. I think it was just the right time for me to read it. I found it to be very illuminating in many ways, and it made me think.

But today the only thing I am really thinking about is one of the things Mrs. L'Engle talks about in reference to children. She does not believe that we should shelter our children from all of the questionable content in books, literature, life... She claims children have built in filters and deletion modes. If they read something they are not ready to understand, they usually just pass over it. If they don't ask a bunch of questions, it's likely because they are not ready to explore that subject.

And if they do ask questions, you should really only answer the questions they ask, not answer all the ones you anticipate they will want to know the answers to.

While I can certainly see that there may be plenty of exceptions to this, and of course we should be careful what we expose our children to, I see merit in what she is saying.

Take the Bible, for example. The Bible contains stories that are full of violence, betrayal, rape, incest, homosexuality, and sex. So, should we try to edit all that out, make it clean and neat and acceptable for children? I don't think so.

Stick with me a second. We have had a habit of reading the Bible together, as a family. We tend to read straight through a book. We don't skip passages. And there have been stories like, say, Sodom and Gommorah, where Trever and I have read straight through, anticipating a slew of tough questions, only to find that nobody seemed all that interested in diving any deeper into the text. They probably didn't understand. And that was okay.

There have also been times where questions have been asked. We have tried to answer them as simply as possible, only going into detail when further, more specific questions are asked. We try to give them what they need, and that's all.

Sometimes this applies to life in general, and not necessarily to literature or movies. For instance, yesterday I was cooking supper, and Libby was helping me. She started talking about her baby sister, the one I am pregnant with. She was giving me all the credit for making the babies, and I tried to give her dad a little credit by explaining that he, too, helped to make the babies.

She laughed and told me that daddies don't get pregnant.

I replied by explaining that while daddies do not get pregnant, they help make the mommies pregnant.

She asked if this had something to do with kissing.

I smiled at her and told her that's usually how it starts.

{Keep in mind here, she is almost seven years old. She doesn't exactly require, or want, a sex education lesson at this point.}

She decided to ask one more question, just to settle all this in her mind. She said,

"So does that mean that all babies are made with love?"

I answered,

"No baby. But they all should be. And you, and all of your siblings, have been."

And she smiled and seemed perfectly satisfied. For now, anyway.

Being a parent is a hard job, and certainly we are all going to make some mistakes along the way. I am not touting any parenting philosophy, just feeling my way through. But I have found that some of the things Mrs. L'Engle speaks about have a kind of experiential wisdom.

And I think, sometimes, learning to listen to and know your children can go a long way toward knowing what they can and should be exposed to.

~amy danielle

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post, Amy. Such a sweet conversation between you and your girl...and you handled it beautifully.

    A couple of months ago, we were in the car with Nick and Kristin when Nick's 4yo asked, "How do people make people?" (Keep in mind that Nick and Kristin also have a 1yo and Kristin is also pregnant) I thought Nick's answer was perfect for a 4yo, "We don't. God does."

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