I used to love to chase after my youngest daughter and tickle her. We would run through the house squealing; me in pursuit, with her much younger and faster. Every once in a while, though, she would echo an important message to me which gave me great reassurance. She would stop cold, turn around to face me and drawing a big imaginary bubble around herself with her pointer finger say to me, "This is mine."
She meant that her body and the space immediately surrounding it was hers, and that only she could give permission for anyone or anything to come into that space. This is a valuable lesson we can teach our children. There can be many types of intrusions, and their space needs to be able to expand or diminish at their will. We need to empower our children with this knowledge and affirmation.
They need to know that no matter who is horse playing with them, including parents or siblings, they have the right to ask for it to stop. They need to know that they are in charge of their body and mind and that no one can influence them to do anything bad with those gifts. No drugs. No alcohol. No intimacy. No pornography. No bad music or profanity. No immodest clothing. No gossip or malicious rumors and no pushing or manipulating of any kind. They must know that they possess that power.
I remember when I was younger watching movies like "The Exorcist" and praying that nothing like that ever happened to me. I was scared to death, as many were, that I would somehow wake up one day demonically possessed. Now that I am older and wiser, I have learned that not even a bad spirit can possess you unless you invite it into your space. As my daughter said, "This is mine." My body - my mind. We have to make our children aware of this so that they are empowered to take control and make positive choices with regard to their bodies and minds, their bedrooms, their home and their space.
How do we do that?
Listen and respect
When we goof around with our kids, which I think is really important, and they say, "Stop!" we need to stop immediately. We need to acknowledge that they asked us to stop ("Yes, I will stop now because you asked me to.") and that we honored them by doing so.
Give them space
Give each of your children some little space that is theirs alone where they can have refuge. This may be difficult if you are in close quarters, but find a corner of some room where they can have a safe space to be alone with their thoughts. A space where people have to ask permission before they enter.
Teach them the sacredness of their mind and body
We can teach our kids that their bodies and minds are sacred gifts that they have stewardship over. We can also teach them that they are in charge of teaching others that concept by only allowing certain things in. Children must know that they have the power to walk away from bad music, television, movies, or magazines. We can encourage them to dress their bodies modestly and not cheapen them. They must be mindful of what they eat and drink.
Their sacred space extends beyond their body
We can let them know that they have an imaginary bubble that surrounds them. If they are feeling particularly vulnerable, the bubble can expand to accommodate that. If they are feeling trusting, they can shrink the bubble. That holy space around them can follow them throughout their lives; at school, work, when they are out with friends and when they are alone at a computer - everywhere.
Remind them of their partners
We can teach our children that they may have the presence of the holy spirit, good conscience, our love and whatever else they want with them in that space to give them strength in numbers.
One of the hardest things we have to decide with our children is when to hold them tight and when to begin to open our arms and let them make their own decisions. Empowering them with the knowledge that they are in charge of their bodies, minds, and space allows them to begin to take charge. This leaves them less vulnerable to those who would try to ruin their virtue through degrading media and manipulation.