Monday, February 25, 2008

Innocent as Doves- Part 1

I'm writing an ebook. I know, when do I have time for this? Well, it's been rolling around in my head for some time now. I've been talking to my girls about it now for a few years and now I'm going to put it down in print so that hopefully others can benefit. I've always wanted to write a book and been encouraged by some to do so- so here goes (gulp).

I'll be posting portions of each chapter as it comes and would LOVE your comments, questions, encouragement, concerns.... to help me clarify and develop the material further. My plan is to follow up this ebook with a practical guide. It will contain a series of four lessons that families can do together to talk through this topic, ask questions and come up with a plan of their own.

Statistics predict that one in four girls will be sexually molested or compromised in the childhood years. The median age is 9 with 50 % of assaults occurring before 12 years of age. Coming from a family of four girls, that means that at least one of us should have be victimized. Thankfully, we did not have this life changing experience and until I went to college I had never known anyone who had.

I attended a small Christian college with what some would call the “cream of the crop” spiritually speaking. But as I began to watch my acquaintances and friends struggle in the area of relationships, many of them revealed to me that they had been molested as a child in one way or another and that their lives had been radically changed. Some of them had informed their parents who responded in different ways. Sometimes it had been acknowledged and other times not. Others had kept the secret for years and were only beginning to realize the devastation. Sadly, I have found the same reality to be true in my adult years. Many of those I love have been victims of molestation and worse.

Having five girls of my own this is a special concern of mine. If statistics ring true then my own children are at risk. How can I possibly be everywhere at once? Should they just stay at home where we can watch them every second? Would it be right to tell them everything there is to know about sex at a young age so that I feel they are protected? When should this subject be addressed and by whom?

I remember when my oldest was invited to a friend’s house for the first time to spend the night. She was seven and the typical responsible, mature firstborn girl. She had known this friend since preschool and we were well acquainted with the parents. I had no particular concerns about her behavior, but suddenly I was struck with a panic that I had not spoken to her yet about her own personal safety.

I looked for some material to guide me and found nothing. There are countless books about parenting, praying, mothering, but I was coming up empty handed in this area. It weighed heavy on my heart. I teach my children to protect their heads with a helmet. I make certain that they are buckled in the car correctly. I take them to swim lessons to prevent drowning. I do my best to restrict their exposure to provocative media. Why would I not equip them properly to prevent and/or respond to the indecency of others?

This has been an unfolding journey for myself as I continue to send my children out slowly and carefully. The media has caught on to the problem and nightly there are shows centered around the abuse of children. If I let it, this can drive me to fear instead of faith. God is all-seeing, all knowing and above all powerful to intervene on behalf of my children. But I have also been given the responsibility to raise them into adulthood.

It is my desire in this book to put into the hands of parents some of the tools that God has provided me in discussing this delicate issue frankly with my kids. I am not an expert in child psychology nor do I intend to dictate standards for your family. But I pray that the information put forth in these chapters will serve your family well as you send out your children into the world remembering to be prayerful, to be careful, to be modest and to be honest.

"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”Matthew 10:16


Monica said...

I look forward to reading what you have to share. We have stuggled in this area also. It is hard to discuss the harsh realities of the world while trying to protect their innocence. I recently put in our address on this website . It will show the registered sex offenders in your neighborhood. We showed the results to our three oldest children and talked about the reality of these dangers around us. It is hard for me because I don't want them to be scared, but at the same time they need to know. Thank you for sharing!

Heather L. said...

I'm excited about your book! I'll be praying that God will give you wisdom and time to work on this! I'm looking forward to some help in this area.

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

LOVE it! I'm so glad you're doing it, friend.

What kind of feedback do you want? Big stuff or little stuff like a word or phrase I'd change?

Sarah said...

I'm looking forward to reading your book. There are several people in my life who have been sexually abused. It really is devestating and incredibly hard to move past.

My daughter is still too young to worry about, but we have talked to our son, in a general, not scary kind of way. I know that as they get older, the conversation will have to be less vague. Thanks for sharing.

mom24 said...

Excellent verse choice and such an important topic! I have thought about this as I have noticed the perfection of my daughter's little body and have also been remingded that this isn't just about our girls. Devients will devour any little child in their path!
Many of my aquaintances don't understand why we hold our kids so close to us - even my parents wonder at why we won't let them use a babysitter (whom we don't know) even for a few hours when we leave them in our parents' care for a weekend. Innocence is a gift with which we, as parents, have been entrusted! Rather than cowering in fear, we must pray daily and teach our children how to be safe around others. Thanks for persueing this topic! I look forward to reading more!!

Sniz said...

This has really made me think.

First of all, that is so neat that you are writing this. You have the gift of writing, Monica, and the heart to handle this subject with grace and faith. May God bless your endeavors.

Second, homeschooling has kept our kids so innocent. We have family here, so they are never with people who are not long-time church friends or family. But in our Care Group, many of our friends have shared that they had molestation in their past, even in good, Christian families. One man was molested by an older boy in his church youth group! That freaked me out. And as they get older, it's something I think about more and more and like you said, you can't be everywhere at all times. I'm looking forward to reading further.

Saralyn said...

Are you familiar with Little Ones: Protecting Your Children From Sexual Assault, by William Katz? This is a tool we've used with our kids. It has a parent guide and a kid workbook. Thanks for the reminder to go over it all again!

mindi said...

A very sensitive but real subject that needs to be discussed.
I applaud you for doing this!!

Kevin & Amy said...

I am very encouraged you are addressing this topic. I look forward to reading more! It's such an important thing to think about! I have asked the same questions you have. I look forward to hearing your insights.

Alyssa said...

I can't wait to read the whole thing! I think this is a topic that, unfortunately, many parents prefer to ignore... or worse yet just don't know what to say to their kids. I'm so glad you're addressing it head on. I loved your comment about how you protect you children in so many other ways, why not this one as well.

I have a link on my blog to NGJ... Michael Pearl talks some about this subject, and one quote from one of his answers to a lady's question about sleepovers:

"If you read our mail you would NEVER let your child have sleep-overs with other kids. I will repeat: anyone that has ever counseled or read as many letters as we have would NEVER open their children up to this possibility. It is too common and too terrible."

I don't even have children yet, but I (and probably most parents) agree with you when you said that it can drive you to fear instead of faith.

Looking forward to more!