Sometimes I give off the hippy, laid-back vibe pretty well, but when it comes to one aspect of my life, I am always paying 100% complete attention even if it seems like I am not. When it comes to my child, I do not care if others' feelings are hurt or if others think I am odd, because it is my job to keep her safe.
And the truth is, I don't trust anyone around my child.
Let me explain.
When I was pregnant, I began to notice headlines in the newspaper where I live of disgusting things done to infants. Call me naive, but I had never heard of such a thing. As I paid attention to stories, I picked up on a key element: these were not strangers.
And so I did some research.
I found that only seven percent of those who would harm a youngster are the stranger popping out of the bush. The other 93% of the time, it's somebody we know.
It's that friend from school, the guy at church, or the relative who offers to babysit.
Before you think I've gone too far, all I can tell you is that the numbers do not lie and that the person responsible always seemed like somebody so 'trustworthy'. There is further evidence to suggest that family friends and such will often groom their victims so that it is more likely that it will not be believed if their actions are ever found out.
And so, I have some rules.
My child can only be involved in activities where there are many people present and where no one will be taken to any separate quarters. I do not leave her alone with a single relative; there has to be a group present with at least one or two people I implicitly trust.
The only exception is my husband's female cousin who practically lived with me the first year of this child's life and loves this child as if she were her own: it's likely I would appoint her my child's guardian in my will if Joe and I were to die together in an accident.
I don't let my guard down. If something seems fishy or weird, we simply do not have to participate. My baby's safety is more important than other people's feelings.
I visited a church where the children all have a retreat across the highway from the main building, and I told my husband we would not be sending our child there, because it is too isolated and away from the parents.
I am also vigilant to make sure my child still seems happy and exhibits no strange marks or behaviors after attending events, and in her life, she has really only been left with people a handful of times not including nursery.
Even then, I won't attend church where the nursery is in the basement or far away from the sanctuary, and I have been known to make surprise visits.
We go plenty of places and are around plenty of people and go to the birthday parties and all the like.
As gospel singers, my child frequents concerts and can be seen dancing and laughing and having fun with church goers and with residents of nursing homes.
I take her to the local bounce house playland where she can cavort with others kids and play to her heart's content, and she has attended political meetings with me and is very social.
I even took her to our state capitol when I went to lobby for pro-life legislation, and she said hi to every senator that she happened to meet.
This isn't about hiding my kid under a rock.
My point in all of this is that I don't feel the need to leave my child alone with other people and to needlessly expose her to risks. I rarely did sleepovers as a child, and it was pretty much for the same reason, and other people thought it was nuts then.
I don't claim to have understood it at the time, but I understand it now, and I don't want anything bad to happen to my daughter.
She can see her friends. She just doesn't need to spend the night. She also doesn't need to spend time alone with adults, unsupervised. If the boogeymen in the forest were the most likely to harm my child, there would be no need to safeguard against those that I know in my neighborhood, but the stats just don't bear that out. The boogeymen are those we know the best, and they can truly be anyone.
And if they looked like boogeymen, we could easily pick them out, but because we can't, I can trust no one.
I can't trust you just because you are a church.
I can't trust you just because you are a relative.
I can't trust you just because you're a friend.
I can't trust you just because you're an organization.
It should not be an issue to have safeguards to keep our children safe, right?
Yesterday, a church in Texas was the target of a shooter who killed 27 people, and last night, our church discussed creating a security detail for our own building. Why? Because these are the times in which we live.
Nobody said being a parent was easy or that it would score you points with the popular crowd. I just think it would be irresponsible of me to ignore the dangers just because it may not be socially acceptable to do so. I am not paranoid, but I definitely am vigilant, and I am not accusatory, but I absolutely am watchful.
It's my job to keep my little one safe. I am her mother, after all. And if you're a mom, it's your job to keep your young ones safe, too.
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