I recently befriended someone who I thought could turn into a great friend. He had all the qualities of a great friend. What was interesting; however, was that I had a funny gut feeling about him. Funny in the sense that something just seemed off about him. It was a gut feeling that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I kept a little more distance as a result of my gut feeling but that was about it. Not long after I came to realize that my gut was right all along. I realized he was not the kind of friend I thought he was. In fact, quite the opposite and fortunately there was no negative repercussions as a result of our friendship at the time.
What’s interesting here was that my gut was telling me to be careful but my mind was trying to rationalize everything. I didn’t want to believe that something was off with this guy even though my intuition said there was. I guess this is what you would call instinct. We’re all born with some level of it, I suppose. However, I also believe that trust or at least the characteristics in which we can choose to trust can be taught.
I often find myself in situations with O and Jake where I want them to be able to trust but more importantly to know when to trust. Take for example, O who loves people and is quick to reach out her hand or give a hug. Right now it seems awfully cute as she’s just 29 months old. However, I worry as there will be a time in the not too distant future where we might not be watching her 100%, 24/7. Those times when she’s going to have to make a decision on her own to trust a stranger, or not.
At what point do we try and instill these traits in our children? Is 29 months too young? How do I help her (and eventually Jake) understand the difference between a person who might “look” shady vs someone else? You can get into all kinds of problems with that. Obviously, I can’t and won’t use race or ethnicity as a qualifier. Do I teach them that nobody is approachable? Only people that are in the presence of us or another care taker? These are all questions I’ve been thinking about lately.
How do I teach my children to protect themselves?
Again, I do believe a lot of this is instinct and over time that will develop and they will learn as they get older. However, I can’t help but think there’s things I can do now to help train their eyes, to help hone in on their senses. Maybe it involves me being vocal when we’re out about what’s appropriate and what’s not. For example, when Mommy and Daddy are around it’s appropriate to “play” with another child. However, it’s not appropriate to walk up to a strange dog and kiss it on the face (which she’s done!). I’m also very concerned about other adults. Children, O and Jake’s age, are incredibly vulnerable and can easily be preyed upon. Right now their only protection is that of their parents. So I’ve been thinking of ways to help develop their own senses so it’ll be that much less likely for anything to happen.
My children mean the world to me. THE WORLD TO ME! I often find myself wondering if I’m doing enough. Could I be doing more? We live in a world of reaction. We react to life around us. We let life happen to us. I want to give them the opportunity to happen to life. I want them to learn to be proactive and make that decision about what road their driving on. Many of us are on the road we’re on because that’s the direction handed to us. I don’t want to fail as a parent by not giving them all the tools they can have. I don’t want to fail as a parent by “allowing” anything bad to happen to them.
Is this about protecting my children or myself? Am I scared for them or am I scared to fail? Maybe it’s a little bit of both. Maybe what I seek for them is really the same thing I seek for myself. Love, Understanding, Guidance, Acceptance, Trust, and Faith.
One thing I am learning about parenting is it’s as much about fostering positive growth in our children as it is in ourselves.