The other day, I was reading an article about “Why the state likes to frighten you” by Chris Rossini who is from the Economic Policy Journal and it really got me thinking about how much fear is routinely used to deal with children. He essentially states that every person should be educated and informed of what is going on in the world instead of believing short lived lies meant to bring about fear. Let me give some examples of how we are frightened by things in the world. The rest of the world hates us and wants to kill you. The Flu will kill you unless you get a shot. Everyone else would go crazy and try to kill you if it wasn’t for the police. I could go on and on about the massive amount of fear we are under every day. Instead of basic enlightenment we are hounded by it every day and we use it on our children too.
Children are inherently very trusting of you in every manner and what we tell them they generally believe. Especially, when it is based on things that they cannot verify. Stranger danger is one such example. The odds of your child being kidnapped are really, really small and most likely if they are it is by a relative or friend. But kids freak out if they are approached by a stranger, is that normal behavior? Furthermore, many of these inherent fears linger for the rest of their lives. Another one is the one from Mean Girls, if you have sex you will catch an std and die. I mean that is one way to educate, scare the crap out of teenagers. I could go on and on about the many ways we scare children instead of educating them on why they shouldn’t do certain things.
Why we don’t focus more on educating our children about things that are in the world, I don’t entirely know. Much of this must be because it is easier to do it that way. Ruling by fear is much easier then educating and enlightening your children. One the easiest ways for me to overcome this fear with my children has been by reading the bible to them. It allows children to hear the story of various people and it shows them what the consequences are of some of their actions. Not just the ones brought on directly by God but also the choices that people make. There are many that come to mind, David, Solomon, Abraham and the list goes on. It is a book with a lot wisdom and life lessons in it. (aside from bringing salvation) Also talking about things about the world with children helps too and paying attention to them in their life will help. It amazes me how attentive they are about the world. (my son asked me about chemical weapons a week ago, how do you answer that question?)
While much of this may seem very apparent to people it is something that hits me time and time again. We as parents are like shepherds and teachers to our children. We guide them and teach them day in day out. We protect them from the outside world. But our children grow up and slowly they become adults that need to be enlightened and not be fearful of the world.