Fear is a funny thing. An irrational thing. Usually, our fears are unfounded. Usually, there's nothing we can do to change what may come. With small children, they are small and helpless individuals, with imaginations a mile wide. There are so many things that are unknown or not understood by them, so many things bigger than them. And it is scary. All that stuff. The unknown.
As parents, it is our job to protect them. Sometimes it's possible, sometimes it's not. We do our best, and yet, it is impossible to protect them from all the evils of this world. I don't believe that it's appropriate to isolate our "children" from the world. My opinion is that it makes the world a scarier place, or makes for children so naive that they have no idea of the dangers that will find them. I find it a much better plan to expose them as it is fitting, to teach them about life, where we live, and how to live in it as best we can. Allow them to explore and learn, and even encounter some unpleasant things, but to provide a safe place for them to return to with arms wide open. My goal is to teach them what God says about the world and how they should live in it. Just as God does with us. Under the shadow of His wing. Under the shadow of my wing. That is not to say that we should not protect our children anyway.
Though I am a parent that believes in natural consequences, in living in the real world, there are some things that I don't want my children to know about or experience yet. They don't know how to process them, because the "monsters in the closet" aren't real, because 4 yr olds don't often encounter witches. And I want them to feel safe, even if I know this is impossible to guarantee 100%.
Tonight my son was scared of his closet. He didn't know what was in there. So I lay in his bed next to him and explained that God keeps us safe. Mommy and daddy pray over our house and ask God to protect us, and he does. Nothing bad is going to happen. But still, he worried about 'cat burglers.' I laughed and told him we didn't have a cat so no cat burgler was going to come. No mom, they come and steal your silverwares. Oh, my bad. Well, we don't really have any silverwares that they would want to steal, and besides, cat burglers only live where there are really tall buildings, and we don't have any tall buildings anywhere near us. He was not completely satisfied, but enough for me to leave him. Though I found his fear amusing (yet not to be dismissed), I also was irritated. Thank you, WordGirl. Without you, we would know nothing of cat burglers or "going to jail" or other such pleasant things.
See, on that kind of stuff, my philosophy is, what they don't know can't hurt them. If they don't have a concept or a word in their vocabulary or frame of reference, then it is never an issue. (And let me tell you the strange and 'yeah, whatever' looks I got when sharing this "strategy" recently at a local family education class.) I tried out this philosphy with the word 'mine.' When our children were smaller and learning to speak, we never said the word 'mine.' We said, this is mommy's, or this is daddy's, but never, that's mine. When it came to sharing, child one and child two had no problems whatsoever. Maybe it was because they were so close in age. Maybe it was because they were of the opposite sex. Maybe we were just awesome parents. (haha). But I like to think that it was the attitude that we tried to teach them, and removing that one word was a big part of it. Eventually they learned it anyway, and subsequent children have learned it from them, and habe been heard employing it at the tender age of 15 months. The older two, however, never had a problem with sharing with each other or with their peers, or not nearly to the degree as their peers.
I have this same concept when it comes to 'scary things.' When I read stories, I skip over words like 'monsters' and change it to something else. We don't read books or watch movies that have ghosts or goblins. There are enough mean things in the media without introducing those sorts of **'imaginary' characters. It is because of this, I believe, that we have not had any problems with nightmares or night terrors. Not to say we don't have the occasional bad dream, but nothing disruptive, nothing earthshattering. Anytime we have had bouts of children not sleeping well, including us, we pray over our home, and it goes away. (Seriously, don't knock it til you've tried it.)
**As an adult and a Christian, I know that there really are monsters and ghosts and demons. But that is a rather advanced topic to explain to a preschooler or a toddler. We can talk about that in 10 yrs. For now, we won't go there.
Since going to public school (this is not a public vs private commentary, I'm pro-public.) they have gotten introduced to these things, even in preschool, much to my dismay. And so we have seen more of those irrational fears pop up. Also, they come up even on PBS shows like WordGirl. I guess I could take the blame for that by allowing them to watch. But whatever. Sometimes I need the tv as babysitter. Though I do draw the line. No Scooby. No Family Guy. No Friends.
So, am I sticking my head in the sand with this philosphy? I guess. But it works for us.