My children never cease to amaze me. Their fascination for everything, their undying curiosity, their unyielding search for answers ... absolutely wonderful! I sometimes find it very difficult to find the line. That invisible line between protecting them from the big bad scaries in the world and that quest for knowledge. I believe it is a struggle all parents deal with, and there are so many times when I question the decisions I make.
I believe most parents, like myself, take a good measurement of our experiences as children and add them to what our knowledge of society is today. The variable element comes in with how we perceived our own childhood. I am the child of a very strict mom and a very easy-going dad. My mom censored everything I did - television, music, books, clothes, friends - until I moved out the week after graduating from high school. My dad, conversely, trusted in my ability to make informed decisions about what was appropriate. I could probably write for days about the psychology of the generations even before that - but I'd rather not.
I think the biggest difference between how I was raised and how I'm raising my children is that I'm raising them in a Christian household. God comes first - ALWAYS. I don't disallow them from watching a television show simply because "I said so", I give them valid reasons, such as too much sex or too much violence, or whatever. That being said, we tend to not block a lot of the shows and such out there. Instead of hiding the children from the big bad nasties, we discuss why some of the things we are watching are harmful. I'd rather empower them with the knowledge to make their own decisions than just lay down the law.
We also gain a lot of information from our peers. Having a vast majority of very conservative friends, I know a lot of children who are shielded from most of the things that are happening in society. There is little to no discussion, simply a statement that "it isn't Godly". While I certainly feel that this a valid parenting choice, I worry about the level of rebellion that can occur later on. It is my experience that a child can only hear "NO" so many times before they decide to do whatever they want to do regardless of a parent's reasons why they shouldn't.
I also have friends that are much more lenient about what their children take in. I'm not quite sure I agree with this method, either. It doesn't matter how free-wheeling you are as a parent, you still have to actually ... you know ... PARENT. Is a child learning how to decide for themselves what is appropriate? What is the measuring stick they've been given?
Additionally, as time marches on, our standards change. Lucy and Ricky Ricardo slept in separate beds, but it is not uncommon to see couples interacting sexually all over television today. The reading list my 5th grader chooses from is the same reading list I had in high school, which is the same one my father had in college. Food for thought: What this generation tolerates, the next generation will accept. (Thank you, Aussie Anderson - your words are truly inspiring!)
So, the question becomes, are we willing to take a stand against the continued degradation of our society? I'm not entirely convinced that protecting our children from everything is the answer, and I know letting them run free isn't the answer. It's time to teach them what their responsibilities are, and teach them how to improve our world.
It is time to teach them about more than fluffy bunnies.