Saturday, July 26, 2014

Children Need To Learn Fear


When I was about three years old, we lived next to a large building with a roof shaped as the one here in the picture. At the rear of the building there was a small shed attached. Some boys around the seven year mark decided to climb onto the shed, then onto the roof.

I wanted to join them, so they finally agreed to hoist me up too. The problem is for a reason I don't know, they all decided to leave and forgot about me. Not that I was worried as I happily walked along the top of the structure, where it was nearly flat.

I remember my mother walking out of our unit carrying a washing basket. I remember her voice as she used my full name and in a steady but fearful tone told me slowly "Sit down". She kept doing that until sensed I was in a place of danger and complied. I was told "Don't move" and knew this wasn't good.

Then I recall the top of a ladder appearing, then a man's head. He held out his arms and I walked toward him. I remember feeling the roof fall away as I reached him and feeling apprehensive. I got a hug from mum, who wanted to know how I got up there. My brother got a stern telling off. He protested I insisted until they relented.

What I learned was I felt no fear until I sensed it in my mother's voice. Then I realised it was dangerous. Children don't see danger, they have to be taught it. A heater element, a power socket (I stuck scissors into one of those once and got a real kick out of it), the road. Those and many other dangers exist for a child. Parents have to teach about all those things.

There are other dangers too, moral ones. In this world of moral decay, children may not recognise the risks associated with certain behaviour. Letting them find out for themselves would be like letting me walk along the high roof and leave me to find out the dangers. Responsible parents teach their children moral virtue because this world won't. The Bible is an excellent yardstick for standards.

So whether it be physical or moral dangers, children need to learn fear. Fear of potentially hurtful actions. That is how they are protected.

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