Dad: Basics of Protecting our Children, Part 2

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Practice Responses to Danger 

As discussed in Part 1 of this series on the Basics of Protecting our Children, we will teach our kids proactively to protect themselves or we will default to reactions.  In this blog, we consider how to build up the habits, attitudes and beliefs that support responding to danger.

The goal of any self-defense program is to respond, not react.  Better yet, we want to train so that our responses are quick like reactions.  

We respond well based on how well planned for bullies, posers, and enemies; advertising and the way of the world; and self-knowledge of our own dark side.  Here we'll consider how to respond to these three killers, and help our children avoid naivete and build shrewdness.

Planning for bullies, posers, and enemies

Bullies don't want to think, they just want the thrill power over another.  Other's fear turns them on, makes them feel strong.  Bullies need to be told "NO" and if opposed they shrink back.  There is no middle ground,  bullies are supported with silence or copycats.  Or bullies are opposed by physical intervention. We must teach our children to use the language of empowerment and assertiveness.    Simply standing in the way physically, or verbally standing in the way, saying, "STOP.  I don't like it when you shove him.  Go to the back of line like everyone else and wait your turn."  There is another strategy we can practice with our younger children.  STOP. TALK. WALK.  Train and role-play with your child.  Parent, pretend to be the bully.  Child, practice saying: "STOP." in a very firm voice.  They need to practice this voice.  It is not yelling, it is firm and authoritative, like commanding a dog who's disobeying.  Then practice TALK by saying to the bully what you don't like and what they should do with this two sentence stem:

I don't like it when you ____. (shove people, call me out of my name)

Next time, ___. (keep your hands to yourself in line, call people by their first name)

If our children (and we) use this language, then bullies have to think that exposure and an end to their reign is imminent.  So train your children to WALK to the nearest adult immediately after saying STOP, and the TALK step.  This freaks out a bully, who knows their power ends when the adult comes to set them straight.  The point isn't for our kids to tattle, it is to demonstrate empowerment.  The power imbalance a bully enjoys can conversely be his weakness as the would-be victim walks to the playground supervisor and simply says, "I was having a problem and I wanted to feel safe for a minute."  Or, "I think we need a meeting, Mike and I.  Could you sit with us tomorrow during lunch while I set a boundary with him?"

Posers want to be someone other than who they are,  They must be revealed with truth. Simple, clear, concise truth, wakes up the poser.  If they are humble. they will turn from posing towards simply being. Sometimes avoidance works with posers, but in a work environment as adults this isn't practical.  Posers can be tolerated like flies at a picnic, but they are annoying.  They can be arrogant blowhards, sarcastic ninjas, or aloof listeners.  We must teach our children to spot posers a mile away.  They are counterfeit strong, fake happy, and they keep it superficial all the time.  These are sure signs of a cover-up. We must teach our children to watch out for those to talk to much, never talk, and who steamroll others.  Sarcasm is a final warning sign of someone who has not made peace with themselves.  We need to discuss sarcasm and how it works, what it means and how it damages relationships.  I'm sure some dinner table comments will arise that provide an opportunity to do discuss these categories.

Enemies are embodied opposition.  They want to kill, steal, and/or destroy.  They must be resisted, sometimes physically, always vigorously.  Enemies will keep coming.  They are unilateral, and they won't be won over.  They will only overcome by consistent resistance.  Avoidance won't help. Studying the nature of human evil and spiritual evil will equip our kids to resist enemies.

The World

There is a way things work in the world.  We need to help our kids learn this way, so that they aren't duped, blindsided or disillusioned.  We want them to be informed, agile, and empowered because we have taught them how things typically work.  The way of the world, at least in the first world, is "Easy everywhere" as Andy Crouch writes, and faster than last year.  Simple, entertaining consumption normal

Here are a few examples of the way of the world: 

We are entitled to easy, the closest parking spot, and to texting while driving if it's "an emergency".

Get the newest phone early, and use it for a year, then upgrade.

Watch the ridiculous for a ridiculous amount of time.

If it's on TV or on demand, watch it.

Ratings for games and movies are relative, if not unnecessary.

Screen time controls and parent controls aren't worth it because they rob kids of choice making and maturity, and are too hard to set up.

You are a good as you look, as valuable as your clothes are expensive, and as powerful as the average likes on each post you upload.

Shame culture is just the way kids communicate now, along with memes.  Shame and sarcasm is just part of growing up.

Yes, they are adolescents, but they deserve social media without parents interfering.

Social media is just a new contributor to depression and it's tragic.

Photo by Dulcey Lima on Unsplash

Interpreting the World

Obviously what I've just listed above are mostly lies, but they are accepted as realities, or just as "the way things work now".  To interpret the world and therefore protect our kids from it, we must interpret the ways of the world with our kids, mentees and students what is happening.  The madness of the world is driven by cool tech, the desire for easy everywhere, and a barrage of marketing that attacks our attention. The goal to get into our wallets... I mean, PayPal accounts.  Who has cash now, right?

We help our kids to interpret the world by detoxing... I love Andy Crouch's suggestion: One hour a day, one day per week, and one week per year, all devices should rest, therefore causing us to rest.  And our devices should go to sleep before us, and wake after us each day.  If this habit doesn't force us to rest, at minimum, it will force us to confront our addiction to screens.  We need to see the effect on our minds, bodies and emotions of using and not using tech so much.  We need to detox deliberately when the world and it's ways seem so normal to our kids.  Conversations, as mentioned in Part 1 of this series are critical.  We must engage and be present.  We've got to prepare to talk with our kids and grandkids, our mentees and students about the way the world works.  It does not work in anyone's best interest.  It works to favor greed, consumerism, and the owners of the big companies that create needs for "easy everywhere".  We must perceive the danger of our kids "overscreening" or overconsuming, and make a proactive, deeply present effort to make sense of what is coming their way.

For now, I will cut this short so you might consider ways the world is getting to you and your family.  And I will encourage you to consider: How will you seek interpretation for what is going on in your life?  What interpretation will you offer your loved ones, especially your young children?

Check out for Part 3 of the Basics of Protecting our Children on or after December 28, 2020.

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