Summertime is a wonderful time. Weekend getaways, family vacations, cookouts, time at the pool and lots of time spent with good friends. Lately the topics of conversation I find my friends and me discussing is how to address certain safety topics with our children. Maybe it’s because many of us are about to send our children to school for the first time where they will start to have a life a little outside of our control. Teachers and peers will have influence on their lives and they will be shown cultures and ways of life that they might not have seen before. They will start to be invited to friends houses or birthday parties of families I do not know. Will I let her go? What questions do I ask beforehand? Am I allowed to scope out the house? How young is too young for slumber parties?
Yes, I’m excited for her to get a bigger world view and be exposed to cultural differences, but I’m also having to expand my trust circle with people I don’t know. And while I’d like to think “we’ll just address that topic when we come to it,” I feel like there are some topics we need to discuss beforehand, especially when it’s an issue of safety: guns, drugs and alcohol, body safety (“good touch, bad touch”). We have made passing comments at times on these subjects and have talked lots about bodies and body parts but how do I explain it’s not ok for someone to touch her there without making her think someone WILL try to touch her there? I don’t want to scare her. How do I explain if she is at a friends house and sees adults or teens doing drugs she needs to call me ASAP? I don’t even think she understands what cigarettes are! How do I ask a parent my 20 questions about guns/weapons in their home so I don’t come off sounding offensive or accusatory? I need a script of the exact things to say!
I don’t want to introduce her to scary topics or make her fearful that someone will do harm to her just because she doesn’t know them. Some would say that at four years of age I don’t need to be concerned with these things yet but I would MUCH rather be discussing what to do if you find a gun at a friends house with her NOW than at a hospital. I would MUCH rather be discussing that she’s in charge of who touches her body NOW than after some scary phone call from a principal.
So where’s my script?! I’m gleaning wisdom from other friends on how they’ve approached the topics with their kids. I have friends who are child therapists with a wealth of knowledge and advice. I’m sure the school counselor will also be addressing these topics with the kids but really, it is my job as a parent to guide her and inform her. I WANT to be that person, but I also don’t want to scare her. How much is too much info? As always, my “go to source”…books from the library. I think if I read them beforehand to scan for appropriateness and then we read together as a family, we can discuss and ask questions. Books seem easiest because we already read to her and it seems more informal that sitting down saying “We’ve got some important issues to discuss with you sweetie……” I think there will also be a lot of prayer exercising on my part as well! I may still be unclear of the exact words or script, but I do know it’s too important to not discuss at all.