Friday, February 6, 2009

Protection...the debate rages on...

As a mom, of course, like all moms I want to protect my kids. But recently it has come to my attention that protecting our children means different things to different moms.

I have two friends who are on polar opposites of this spectrum, I myself fall somewhere in between the two. When I speak to either one and they go on a rant about how they are protecting their child or how we protect our children too much, I just stay quiet. I can agree with some points of both, disagree with others. Let me illustrate (all names have been changed).

Leslie is a single mom of one. She is good friends with her ex-husband who left while she was pregnant with their son. Her son is in kindergarten in public school. Leslie attends mass weekly, sends Bryson (her son) to CCD. They say grace before every meal and they talk in a way I know many parents envy. Leslie is nothing short of a devoted mom. Her stand is that she is giving Bryson the foundation but, even in these young years, she believes he should be exposed to people outside the faith and their value system so that she can use this to teach him why Catholics do the things they do. Why he believes the way he does, in other words. She also believes that she can accomplish more good in the world by being a strong Catholic example for those outside the faith. And her belief is Bryson should be this way too. And Bryson has already testified, even at age six, to his faith. When children in school were contemplating stealing a toy from a classroom, Bryson stood strong and told them it was wrong. He was the first kindergartener in the school's history to win the "Quiet Strength award." Leslie asked him why he told the other children it was wrong and his answer was striking for it's simplicity, "I knew in my heart that Jesus did not want us to steal that toy. I knew that maybe they didn't know about Jesus and didn't hear Him say no, so I knew I had to tell them for Jesus." Leslie maintains that as long as she is teaching the morals at home and talking with Bryson daily to make sure he understands his faith and what he is learning at home, she does not need to shelter him from the world and worldly views. As she says, "It's very easy not to stray when you don't know there is a life outside of the flock."

Carlie is a stay-at-home mom of five, soon to be six. She homeschools. Her children attend daily mass as well as Sunday. She does not join groups outside of Catholic homeschooling ones that she is sure are using the same curriculum she is and hold identical views to hers. I knew her before kids, so that is why she keeps me around. She has even refused some Catholic groups like Little Flowers because she did not believe her children should hear about martyrdom of saints until they were adults. Carlie states that if her children have no contact with non-Catholic values (they do not allow any discussion among adults of current events and have no internet, television or radio in home) they will grow up to be faithful members of the Church and will have no reason to stray. She even fought her priest and DRE to keep her kids out of CCD and away from any children in public school. I wish I had a specific example of Carlie's kids' testimony, but since they very rarely come into contact with anyone outside the church, I can't think of one. She maintains that as a mother, she must protect her children from all that is not of God by not letting them know that there are things in this world not of God.

I am exhausted just writing this. It makes my head spin. I know it would not be for me to not expose my children to anything outside the church, but at the same time, I admire Carlie's gusto. I find myself often leaning more toward Leslie probably because that is more to how I grew up. Don't get me wrong, my parents said no, a lot. At the same time, I always attended public school and was able to defend my positions a bit more clearly because I was not in a vaccuum.

I cannot say for sure what the future holds for my little ones in this respect. I am hoping God will show me a way to a happy medium.