A few days ago I took my son to a local lakeside park to meet up with some other mammas and kids. My son is VERY outgoing, he’s never met a stranger. To him, a stranger is just a friend he hasn’t met yet. I love that about him. I believe that is what Jesus is talking about when he say we need to become like little children, all-inclusive.
What I saw that day torn up this mammas heart. I saw my son snubbed time and time again. He’d walk up to a group of kids and say “Hi, guys!” and they would turn their backs on him, look at each other and mouth, “Do you know him?” Or they’d look around for a parent to see if they should run away from my ever so dangerous 4-year-old.
Thankfully, he’s too young to let this phase him. He keeps trying to be friendly and we encourage that. We teach him to say hello when someone else greets him. We encourage him to be the first to say hello to people we pass on the street.
I’m concerned that we are raising rude children in the guise of safety. Stranger Danger has pushed us to ignore common courtesies. You can teach your child to be friendly, while teaching them not to go off with a stranger.
Honestly, when you look at the statistics, we should be more concerned with lightning striking our children on those metal playgrounds than with stranger abductions. Most abductions are custody battle/family member abductions. Yes there are stranger abductions, and yes we need to raise kids who know how to run away and not get into a strangers car no matter what they say.
How does that translate into being rude to a friendly 4-year-old? I know he’s big for his age, but he’s not going to cart your 7-year-old off the play ground. He’s just looking for someone to dig in the sand with, or play tag, or swing on the swings, slide down the slide and in general have some playground fun. You know, the way we used to do, when we were kids.
When did friendship for the younger set become only parent-approved-Mommy-get-along-with-their-mommy-and-we-are-both-there-to-supervise-your-play.
My mother-in-law told me of an incident that she experienced down in Arizona.
She’s in her 60’s and she was at Sam’s Club with her mother. Two very scary ladies. They were sitting in the food court area having some ice cream and at the table next to them were three children waiting for their dad who was in line for food. My mother-in-law is a grade school special education teacher.
Talking to children is as normal as breathing for her. So she says hi and asks them how they like school, the usual stuff.
The littlest one starts to reply but is stared down by the older two. My mother-in-law hasn’t caught on yet, so she asks more questions. the little on looks over to her daddy and then all three stare down at the table, ignoring my her. A few minutes later the dad comes over with their food and tells my mother-in-law, “We don’t allow our children to talk to strangers”
She was stunned into silence. My first thought was, “How sad for your kids, how do they ever make friends and learn to talk to adults.” My second thought was, “So you’re actively teaching your children to be rude. How nice for society”
We have become a rude society. Politeness and common courtesies are not so common anymore. It’s all about me and I don’t have to be nice to you. After all, you are a stranger and strangers are dangerous.