As parents I believe it’s safe to say that worry and fear can be part of our everyday life if we let it. A parent asked me this a couple months ago and I thought I would elaborate on it in this weeks post and provide you with 3 ways to equip our children to remain safe when out of our bubble. I plan to elaborate more over the months to come but I just know we don’t have a ton of time to read so wanted to keep this to the point and provide an intro.
“I have a question for you, I’ve been dealing with a lot of thoughts lately of harm coming to my child. I don’t know if it’s worse because I’m pregnant but I just can’t stop thinking that something bad could happen to them and it takes over my mind. I think my past working in different fields where child abuse was present is not helping which is why I’m reaching out to you because you’re an expert in the field! Have you ever thought about things that you’ve heard from different cases and think of your own kids? Seems total irrational I just want to keep her in a bubble and never let her out of my sight.
I don’t know if you’ve ever gone through these feelings but do you have any advice? I feel like I’m going crazy.”
My response: So this happened to me when I was pregnant with the twins and even heightened when I was pregnant with Asher. I don’t know why but I think it was more so because I miscarried (twins) before him and the whole pregnancy I was on pins and needles. I worried about everything especially when they were not with me. I feel from working in the field you almost get some post traumatic stress and it can play out in our personal lives. The last two years before I quite I did sexual abuse cases. I found myself almost screening my kids every time they went somewhere and talking about body safety all the time. I felt almost like because I was a Child Protection Worker I would be a failure as a parent if anything happened to my kids. So those thoughts you have I believe are normal for all parents but maybe heightened for those of us who work in the field. What I personally think is not as normal if we react on those thoughts of fear. So your fears and worries are fair to have. We can put plans in place to make sure our children are well cared for when we are not present. Not that our extended family and friends aren’t going to take good care of them. We can also voice are thoughts to our family, friends and others left in charge of taking care of them. When my kids go to play dates and I dont really know the parents I ask tons of questions. In a nice way but I just want to know who is in the home where they will be going etc. They can think i’m crazy all they want but it’s my job to make sure my children are safe. I have seen it time and time again parents are just happy to get a break and will drop their child off only asking for the other parents cell number.
Also I believe we are not meant to live in fear. This is were my belief in God comes in. I have to talk myself out of fear all the time. As parents we should use wisdom with every decision we make and go with our gut instincts.
For example the first time Josiah asked to ride his bike to the convenient store. In my mind all the bad things come first. Then I had to tell myself the chances of this are slim and next to not happening. I provided him with everything he needed to remain safe and then I let him go with his friend. Of course the whole time I was nervous and praying until he got home but its part of parenting. We will always worry and I mean always! I think what helps me the most is just calming myself down and making decisions based on what is best for them and not out of fear.
Sometimes I wish I didn’t know so many negative things about what and who is out there.
I hope that helps.
I think its fair to say if we could we would all keep our children in bubble to ensure they remain safe and out of harms way. However then there is something to be said about experiencing life and we should want our children to live it to the fullest. I’m sorry to say but bad things are going to happen to our children over the years. My prayer is that it’s not as extreme as some of the situations and cases I had as a Child Protection Worker. This is life and we are here to provide our children with the tools to remain safe and an environment to remain è in.
3 ways to equip our children to remain safe when out of our bubble:
1. Let them know the real realities of life in an age appropriate manner.
Ex your child wants to go for a bike ride by themselves and upset you told them no. You may not agree with me but there is nothing wrong with letting your child know there are people in this world that if they see a child by themselves could try to take them away. This is not trying to scare them its teaching them the truth and teaches them to not be so naive. We tell our children why they must stay away from a hot stove. It’s the same concept we dont want to see them get hurt.
2. Teach your children about body safety at a young age:
We think we want our children to remain innocent. I get it believe me! So parents don’t teach them their proper body parts or what is allowed and what is not. The problem is sexual offenders look for children who dont know these basics. I saw this repeatedly when I would interview children who had disclosed sexual abuse or inappropriate touching by another child or older. I believe we must arm our children with this knowledge and it then becomes a good preventive measure. Statistics show us that sexual offenders are people the child knew.
3. Teach them to stand up for themselves on the playground:
Its going to happen eventually one of our greatest fears, our children will come home from daycare, pre school or school and tell us something that happened. I dont know about you but the crazy mama bear wants to come out and give who ever hurt my child a piece of my mind. Better yet how about we teach our children to stand up for themselves. I have talked about this before in my blog post “Lawnmower parent”. We have to teach our children to speak up for themselves. There is nothing wrong with our children telling their peer what they said or did was rude and hurt their feelings. They do not have to stick around to play with them at recess as they deserve to be treated better than that. I think its important we teach out children to stand up for themselves first, after they have done this they can tell their teacher or an adult they feel safe telling. We want them to get their worries, fears and frustrations out to avoid retaliating.
I believe we should encourage our children with wisdom instead of motivating them with fear. Our worry list is always going to be long. From fear of abduction, abuse, being bullied, their relationships, succeeding at school, what they eat and their overall health. We are parents we are made to worry lets just try to not pass these fears on to our children.