The innocent and the beautiful Have no enemy but time.
~William Butler Yeates
I’m not so sure that time is the only enemy to innocence any longer….
“You’re so innocent!” I distinctly remember being told by some adolescent peer in high school. Oh, the condescending tone. It was obvious to me that innocence was not something I should have. I must admit to poking fun at a particular friend of mine for a similar reason. Somehow, being a bit more world wise seemed a good thing to flaunt over her at the time.
When I think of the peer pressure, the media, and the influences around when I was growing up, and how destructive they were to me, I get cold chills thinking about what is going to be around for my kids. How much of what they are exposed to is geared at stealing away their innocence. That aura around childhood that seems to disappear at younger ages all the time.
Now, as a mother, innocence is something I want my children to hold on to, for as long as possible. The thought of someone calling my daughter innocent in that same tone is enough to bring out my mother bear instincts and want me to tear into the other person. Of course she’s innocent. She should be innocent! She’s nine.
Yet, being involved with children on a regular basis tells me that this is a stage that leaves children at younger ages all the time. I teach six, seven and eight year olds (between my job as a first grade teacher and my second grade boys Sunday school class). I see world wise written all over many of these kids. Just the other day, in church I had to stop a discussion about the movies the kids have been viewing. It had turned into a contest to see who had watched the most “taboo” movies. And this was in Sunday School!!
One of the decisions my husband and I have made is to keep our kids away from some of the exposure to the things this world has to offer. We do not have outside television in our home (no cable, no antenna). Our kids don’t attend many birthday parties for kids. They can only go home with children whose parents we know well (and trust to make similar decisions about music, television viewing, video games and computer time that we would).
We have been considered prudish. Others have implied or right out said that our children are overprotected and will not be prepared for the “real world”. I roll my eyes at this idea….the idea that keeping children children, and protecting their innocence is not preparing them for the real world. And that somehow, exposing our kids to more language, violence, sex, disrespect for parents and other authorities is somehow better preparing them for life.
One of the things about our culture that hurts me the most is the way children are constantly exposed to, and involved in experiences that steal away their childhood. And one of the things that I believe we as Christian parents should do, is help our kids hold on to their innocence as long as possible.