As parents, we long to protect our children. Shelter them from the big bad world around them. Limit their exposure to things that contradict our belief system and worldview. On the flip side, we need to raise them up to live in THIS world, with all it's evil and sin, because this where God uses them to do His kingdom work. It's a fine line and difficult to find the proper balance between both extremes.
When our kids attended a private, Christian school I was completely apathetic to their curriculum. Their friends were primarily Jesus-lovers. They learned to read and write and solve basic math facts. As a bonus they studied the fruit of The Spirit and memorized huge chunks of Scripture.
This year we switched our kids to public school. They are thriving in their new environments. Making friends. Reading, writing, solving math facts. And occasionally being exposed to things that don't match up to our worldview or belief system.
Our son, who is in 2nd grade and is 7 years old, came home upset about a novel he was reading out-loud with his reading group. From his perspective, it was scary, had bad words and inappropriate content. He was nervous that he would have to read something out loud that conflicted with what he knew was wrong.
He's a bit prone to the dramatic side, so I took it with a grain of salt, but set out to research the text and see if there was any truth to what he was saying. Turns out he had reason to be concerned. The "bad word" he referenced was indeed included in the text and the story was scary with an orphaned boy, abusive adults and fairly descriptive witchcraft. It was controversial enough that it was ranked #56 on the top 100 most challenged texts by the American Library Association.
The Mother Bear in me came out. I lay awake in bed, blood boiling and seething that my child would be exposed to something this controversial and dark without my knowledge and at such a tender age. I wanted to go marching straight down to the school, kicking butts and taking names. I couldn't help but long for the safety of our little Christian school in Illinois. The fine line of over-protecting Grant vs. over-exposing him waivered back and forth in my head.
As I started to simmer down, I knew it would be wrong to go barging in, shotguns loaded and blast Grant's good-natured teacher. I needed to educate myself, read the whole text (not just the synopsis), and give her a chance to explain her side of the story. I asked God to help me navigate new waters and fell asleep with a plan to call Grant's teacher in the morning.
She was more than gracious, non-defensive, and open to discuss the text and why it had been chosen. She gave Grant the option of choosing an alternate text and had a loving and supportive conversation with him that affirmed his right to stand up for what he believed in. She even sent the text home so I could read it and form an educated opinion.
I still don't agree with the decision to present this book to 2nd graders, but I really felt God's guidance in handling the situation in a way that pleased Him, represented Jesus fairly, and had an outcome that was satisfactory to both parties. I'm sure this is the first of many opportunities God will use to teach me how to raise Jesus-loving kids in a scary world. Lead on Captain God.