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Is it healthy to be frightened?

With halloween fast approaching it begs the question, “how much scariness is healthy for my child?”   One might jump to the conclusion that any scariness is too much.  The parental instincts kick in and says, "not my child." But this may call into question the end goal of parenting.  Is it to protect our children at all cost or to guide their progress toward mature independence?  The latter would consider that a healthy adult will most certainly navigate some scary things.  Children worry about monsters under their bed but adults worry about someone missing a red light and plowing into the side of their vehicle.  So it would stand to reason that from the start we ought to allow a little exposure to that which frightens in order to develop confidence later on.  It starts with the dangerous items in the household.  “Don’t pull on that thing or it might fall and land on your toe” is something one might hear just before the thing falls and the child starts crying.  Extreme helicopter parenting stands 2 feet behind the child in the playground lest they fall despite the fact that thousands of dollars have gone into safety in its construction.  It is a false illusion that one can navigate this world without scary things happening so we do our child the best when we leave room for them to experience it.  They give out vaccines that make you sick for a day or two because the alternative is worse.  With our children we must always think further out and consider wisely and soberly what exposure to scariness would be helpful in their development.

2 Scenarios

Let me now add two scenarios.  The first being halloween and the concept that scariness is no big deal!  That would be incredibly insensitive. Goblins and ghouls and witches are no big deal to people who do not believe in the spiritual world and in demonic powers.  We are not of that persuasion.  There is no such thing as the Hulk or Spider-man but to mingle that with witches and devils creates the illusion that none of them are real.  I do not advocate that one should ignore halloween but I do strongly encourage that parents take it seriously and guide their children through the occasion with discernment.

The second scenario is the reality of scarcity. In a social media post a local woman poured out her heart concerning the poverty that she and her husband were experiencing trying to live in Ladner.  Counting pennies just to have a roof over their head and some food on the table and no hope to ever own their own home.  She asked humbly for any thoughts or advice  and the responses ranged from “Hang in there” to “move to the interior.”  It is very common for young families to experience scarcity in the early days when salaries are low and expenses are high.  I believe that this is a great example of exposing our children now so they can thrive later.  One of the best ways to do this is to be in the habit of generosity toward the poor.  Even when you consider yourself poor you create a value in the home to be thoughtful to others.  There is always someone worse off than you.  Sponsor a child through one of our global partners.  Bring in some groceries for the food bank wagon. 

Another consideration is to create controlled experiences of scarcity.  Doing a fast of something that we take for granted (a meat-free week, or no TV, etc.).  Being intentional as parents to not give your children everything they crave.   A child's fear that they won't get the present they really really want for Christmas is not so far off the experience of the father fearing that he won't earn enough to support his family.  It is scary!   If our children learn to do without when they are young then they gain skills that will serve them when they move out on their own.

How we can help

Through the rest of October and all of November the various zones on Sundays are using a curriculum designed by the organization, “Food for the Hungry.”  We are excited to create discussion with the kids on scarcity and poverty and bring some biblical perspectives.  If you take this theme up along with us and use the opportunity to engage in some practical exercises then it promises to be a powerful month for our kids.  Be sure to connect with your child’s teachers to share in the journey.

serving for your flourishing,

Pastor Danny