It wasn’t very long ago, that every night before the 10:00 news, a service announcement would come on with an ominous voice saying “It’s 10:00. Do you know where your children are?” This was back in the day, before social media was even around. Back when your kids being home meant they were safe from harm or trouble. These days, our kids could be in the same house, or even the same room, yet we have no idea where they are when it comes to the internet.
My oldest daughter came home earlier this week and briefly mentioned something that the kids at school are talking about. Long story short, it was something related to a movie character and a new “movement” that can ultimately be described as disturbing. Very explicit descriptions of things that you could probably guess the topic. Only it involves a cartoon character. And again, it’s really disturbing. And it can be found easily, and quickly on the internet.
Two things I am already grateful for:
1: Her friends refused to tell her what it was when she innocently inquired what they were discussing. They actually made a point to tell her that “she” wouldn’t want to know. I had this thought already, but others reminded me as well that it signified a distinction between her and some of her classmates. Not in an elitist, or “better than” mentality, but a distinction of innocence nonetheless. I am extremely grateful for this!
2: She feels she can come to me with these things, even the things that don’t seem like a huge deal at first (because she doesn’t know any better) but also about the big stuff. That is huge. It’s one of my main desires with my girls to create that environment where they can come talk to me. I have learned over the years about not freaking out over stuff, especially the small stuff in order to build that trust. If she is going to learn things, especially about sensitive topics, I want to be in that conversation, and FIRST if at all possible. I wish I could say I nail it 100%, but I don’t. It’s a process.
One more thing: I am grateful my hubby and I got to the info first so we can appropriately handle it where she and my other two are concerned.
The more I talked with my daughter about it, I learned that she had overheard these discussions all while in the classroom. The teacher, totally unaware that the “code” these kids were using to discuss it meant anything bad at all. That night as my husband and I researched it, I felt sick to my stomach. It was yet another huge wake up call to where our world is at. It feels so different than when I was growing up.
I used to say I grew up in a very “sheltered” home, but I would rather describe it as “protected.” I don’t see that as a negative. I remember with appreciation that my parents were careful in how they introduced certain topics, especially ones in movies. They always had conversations to highlight the differences in what we saw. They would preview movies and then have us come in and we would watch it together. I remember this specifically about the movie “Schindlers List” because of some of the themes in it. They wanted us to have the appropriate amount of knowledge without all the “other stuff”. They didn’t want to completely shut us off from civilization, but to protect us from what kids our age shouldn’t have to deal with. They wanted us to be able to distinguish between the examples of God’s design, and what the world offered. Whatever your approach to parenting was through your upbringing, or now as a parent yourself, I stand by what my parents taught us. I know that in some things, they would say they would do things differently. I’m already saying that now about myself now. My point is, they tried their best to create a balanced approach to our life outside the home while teaching values and principles inside the home. I give them honor for this and am trying to pay it forward for my own kids.
I used this example because over the years I heard the terms “sheltered” and “over protective” when it comes to raising kids. And it’s usually described in a negative light. Why is that? Why do we look at “lack of knowledge” or “experience” when it comes to things of the world as a bad thing?
That night as my husband and I discussed this, he brought up the story of Adam and Eve in the garden. I thought it was a brilliant example of what we see here and now. They had beauty all around them. It truly was a paradise. In that garden, were multiple trees that they had free access to, except one. What tree was that? It was the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil.” God didn’t explain why. He just said, “don’t do it”. God didn’t say no to withhold good things from them. He said “no” to protect them and future generations.
Most of us know how this story ended. With a serpent successfully convincing Eve that she had been shortchanged. That God was holding out on her and she would see more and know more by eating of the fruit. He convinced her she needed to know as much as God. Eve and eventually Adam ate of the fruit and their eyes are opened, but not in a good way. They now had full access to what God never intended for us, even though He knew it would happen.
I believe that God designed us for knowledge of Him. I also believe that as the creator of the universe with all the details and intricacies, it means He has limitless knowledge and creativity. He has placed a fraction of that within the human mind; but as His creation, we were not designed to know it all. Afterall, we are the creation, not the Creator. God’s design; is protection for us. The enemy’s job since day one has been to undermine God’s design for us.
Fast forward to 2015 and because of the state of increasing technology and the access to it, knowledge is literally a click away 100% of the time. It’s why Google is what it is today. Am I saying that’s a bad thing? Not at all. But as I look at my 11 year old daughter, I am even more convinced that knowledge of certain things will actually harm her more than it will serve her.
She is one of a small few who don’t own phones and who have strict boundaries with internet, movies, and music, etc. There is a reason for that. She also has friends with unlimited access or a lack of supervision and boundaries when it comes to internet access. It’s something we have had to address with her and monitor when she is with them. This is probably the reason the kids at school know as much as they do. She doesn’t necessarily get it now, but when we tell her she may not be with her friends on youtube (from their device) without permission or supervision, it’s because there are things on there that cannot be unseen or unheard. It would forever alter her view on things that she is not at a maturity to process yet. Yet our kids are bombarded with it, on a daily basis. Even now, with all the parental blocks or apps out there to restrict access; just having internet or Google on their phone can still open some harmful doors because of a character from a movie that no one can block or filter. Not to mention the movies out there that are now aimed at kids my daughter’s age that carry themes and scenes that were considered an R rating 15 years ago. Movies and T.V. shows that glamorize disrespect towards authority figures, and relationships, among other things.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against technology, OR fun. But I am ALL FOR boundaries, and limitations as a means to protect the innocence that is still there. Have I been perfect in this? Absolutely not. I know that there are things that have slipped by under the radar. I know that the enemy will use every angle and become more cunning over time. It’s in that realization that I am reminded it is only by the grace and protection of God that I can stay sane in my endeavor to protect my kids.
As I searched for scriptures about knowledge, I saw a theme. Knowledge and wisdom are not the same thing. Solomon who was considered the wisest man of his time asked specifically for “wisdom” instead of knowledge. Wisdom is knowing what to do with the knowledge you already have, not unlimited knowledge. I found this verse and got so excited because it perfectly talks about this from both angles.
“For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you.”
Just let this verse sink in a for a moment. First off, it highlights wisdom before it addresses knowledge. But the knowledge that comes will be pleasant, meaning it will be helpful to us, not harmful. Secondly, it addresses that what we do with the knowledge and understanding will guard and protect us. From what? From the things that unlimited knowledge can bring. Things that are outside our scope of reasoning or ability.
It was then that the concept or thought of being “like a child” blew my mind even more. Is it possible to consider that when God talks about us having “faith like a child,” that He possibly wanted us even as adults to rely only on the knowledge HE gives out at the appropriate time? Because children were never meant to process everything He knows? Or everything the world has to offer in it’s quest for more.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Faith is defined of being sure of something we can’t see or tangibly prove. Faith actually cancels the need for knowledge and re enforces the need for God to hand out what we need at the moment we need it. I always thought of “child like faith” in a surface way, and in connection for believing for things we hope for. But now I realize it is so much more than that!
The next morning when I opened my Bible App, I saw the verse for that day and it made me smile. It was like a heavenly reminder that God has me AND my kids under his wing. Then my friend posted the verse and it was once again confirmation.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Reading this verse reminds me that under the shadow of God’s wings, I am safe. My kids are safe. It doesn’t mean nothing bad will ever happen. It does mean that God knows and that He can handle it. God wants to protect us and our kids from things we are not designed to deal with. As a parent, I am relying on Him to give me wisdom in monitoring the knowledge they are faced with on a daily basis. It’s a full time job. I have messed up. We all have. God can cover that and He does. I want to encourage you to know that God loves them far more than we ever could. We have the Word and the Holy Spirit as our resource. I am so so grateful for this.
Here are some more verses I found about wisdom and knowledge… Each of these talk about wisdom separately from knowledge.
“My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
preserve sound judgment and discretion;
they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.
Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble.”
“For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.”
“By wisdom a house is built,
and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures.
The wise prevail through great power,
and those who have knowledge muster their strength.
Surely you need guidance to wage war,
and victory is won through many advisers.”
On the practical side, I’d like to challenge parents out there to not be afraid to monitor their kid’s access to what’s out there. There are several apps and protective software out there to help against predators and harmful websites. But the checks and balances shouldn’t end with an app. We should communicate daily with our kids. We shouldn’t live in fear, but we should use wisdom on behalf of our kids. I have heard way too many tragic stories of kids who have been emotionally, or physically harmed because they had too much freedom online before they were mature enough to handle it. Let’s come together as parents and support each other in this endeavor!
It’s 2015. Do you know where your children are?