In know, you want little Tommy to have good character, play nice with others, feel good about himself, grow up and have all the schooling he needs, a job, a marriage, and, of course, grandchildren for you (LOL). Isn’t this the American dream? Of course, but first and foremost, before any of this can happen, there’s nothing more important than your child’s safety.
Curious little April finds your prescription bottle of medicine on the counter. She was looking for you in your bathroom, but she gets sidetracked by the pretty red color and oval shape of the pills in the bottle. She stands on her tippy-toes and reaches for the bottle. You come into your bathroom just as April opens the alleged child-proof bottle cap. You scoop your daughter into your arms, take the bottle from her and put it up out of her reach. April is puzzled and a little fearful of your quick action. You take a moment to soothe her with active listening, caution her about things that can hurt her, and redirect into a play time you and she can share.
Ten year old Nate eyes the newly frozen lake behind his house. The temperature has been below freezing for about a week now and, even though it’s just late October, he’s eager to practice his ice skating. He and friend Bobby are lacing their skates at lake’s edge when you spy them out your kitchen window. You dry your hands and head out to join them lakeside.
The boys had intended to just skate onto the lake, thinking the ice was thick enough to hold their weight. Instead of shutting them down and lecturing them, you ask questions about their intentions and draw them into a conversation about safety first.
Chrissy has had it with her so-called friends. The high school sophomore just read Facebook posts about her that are both teasing, mean, and on the edge of cyber-bullying. When she responds, she is told the posts are “all in fun” and to “get over yourself.” After a half hour of back and forth on-line, her head is pounding. She finds her mother’s opioid migraine medicine and pops a few pills to feel better. This has all been going on for a while. Chrissy thinks, “They’ll regret it when I’m gone.” Her parents have no idea of the personal hell their daughter is feeling.
These are three examples of things our children go through with greater frequency that we care to realize. Our children are God’s gift to us, with His charge to keep them safe in our spiritual, physical, and emotional care.
Of course there are things that happen with our kids that are beyond our control. That’s where we pray and put them in God’s hands. However, there are measures that are within our control.
As your children are newborns, infants, and toddlers, child-proof your home and keep vigilant about their physical safety. As they stretch their boundaries, be close by to help them become aware of dangers and help them to account and plan for keeping themselves safe. As they confront evil and risk bad choices such as friendship choices, drug overdose, or suicidal ideas, notice their subtle cues and active listen. Find moments to share. Talk with them openly about evils in the news, such as cyber-bullying, school shootings, the drug addiction epidemic, and fighting suicidal ideas.
Your child’s active knowledge that you are there for them in all matters is your most important contribution to keeping them safe.