The world beyond our front doors is an increasingly scary place. With violence on the rise, sexuality on every side, and morality on the way out, we must protect our children from evil. Our responsibility to protect them does not stop once we enter our homes. Rather, it becomes even more important.
As a devoted aunt, older sister, and a nanny, I am always looking for ways to make my home a safe and happy place for the children I love. Our homes are meant to be a sanctuary for our children yet modern culture neglects, and even denigrates home and family. More than ever, it becomes our responsibility to ensure that our children don't just feel safe at home but that theyare safe at home. This article provides ways you can protect your children while they are under your roof in the place where protection matters most.
1. Treat your children with kindness
Remember, your children are people, too. In some ways, you and your children are on equal footing. Do your best to keep anger out of your voice and harshness out of your actions. In the long run, doing so will help your children grow up with a more optimistic, accurate idea of what familial relationships ought to be.
I nanny for a friend of mine and I love watching her interact with her son. She uses a sweet, gentle tone of voice for all of her interactions with him. It's not that she's permissive or indulgent, either; she just has impressive control over her emotions when it comes to her son. Rather than getting angry, she restates her expectations and informs him of a consequence. Then she follows through. It's that simple, straightforward and kind. I want to be a parent like her someday.
2. Make and enforce rules
Like guards on a tower, parents can see a long way off. This means that you have a better perspective on consequences of behaviors. As such, you can set rules to protect from negative consequences, and clear the way for good ones. A rule to brush teeth protects against gingivitis and ushers in healthy smiles, for example. A rule to avoid one-on-one dating until middle teens protects against premature attachment and welcomes mature interpersonal exploration. As a parent, you get to make that happen.
3. Be a stickler for the things that really count
Parents will always discover that one rule or another was kind of stupid and pointless. Those are the rules we let go. However, some rules really, really matter. These rules require parents to be proactive, and children to be hardworking. Rules like this protect your children from indifference to right and wrong because they see how much it matters to you and they get used to having to work for it. From this, they learn to face challenges bravely and to understand which things are really worth fighting for.
4. Proactively spend time with your kids
Howard W. Hunter, family advocate, stated "a righteous father protects his children with his time and his presence," and this is true for mothers, too. The time you invest in your children tells them they are worth something, banishing low self-esteem and doubt. Furthermore, they are also protected from seeking acceptance from less uplifting sources.
I have a friend who struggled to connect with her pre-teen son. He just always seemed sullen and uncooperative, withholding himself from their family. After reading one book or article after another, she realized that physical touch was an important gesture of love for him but, like many boys his age, he felt uncomfortable with displays of affection. So she started wrestling with him a little every day. This helped them to connect on his ground, both in type and in method. Over time, their relationship became less like a military cease-fire and more like the loving, respectful friendship you would hope for between mother and son.
5. Decide wisely what is allowed in your home
This most directly affects your family's media consumption. When you actively manage your children's technology use, you protect them from exposure to violent, sexually charged or morally questionable media and invite them to do other, more meaningful activities. But, this doesn't mean you should throw away your computer and TV. Managing technology also means responsibly enjoying media that uplifts and inspires. Note that creating these guidelines for your children may also mean you need to look more closely at your own technology use.
When my husband and I got married, we couldn't afford a TV and were concerned about what we would be giving up if it was a central part of our lives. Now that I nanny, limiting our media consumption is even more important to me. When I am caring for a child, I read books and build towers and go to the park when I might consider plopping him in front of the TV for a while. TV-free is not for everyone, of course, but being conscious of your TV usage can't hurt.
6. Keep your promises
The commitments you make to your spouse protect your children from the chaos of a broken home. The commitments you make to your employer protect you from the uncertainty and fear that come from unemployment. Most of all, the commitments you make to God keep you grounded in what really matters, no matter what other struggles and disappointments you and your family may face.
More than anything, we must be the kind of people we hope our children will grow up to be. Your adherence to the dictates of your conscience not only sets an example for your children, but also gives them the stability of having parents that do the right thing. Whether the right thing is being kind yet firm, paying attention to them and what they do or simply doing what you say you will, your children will be blessed and protected by your sheltering love.