Parents, although this should be of no surprise to you, be aware your children are being exposed to quite an array of real-world behaviors – and these behaviors are quite different from the ones you encountered at their age. This became apparent to me when Marc Daniel, my third child was born. His eyes were about as large as his head and he looked so incredibly innocent. At that time I started to look at the world through his eyes, and in doing so, I was alarmed, to say the least.
When children are young, I believe it is incredibly important to limit their exposure to behaviors of concern. One of the easiest ways to do this is to minimize screen time and increase face-to-face time. Not only does this step safeguard our kids from experiencing potentially graphic content, but it increases our interaction time, which builds critical bonds and strengthens relationships.
As our children get older we can’t always limit exposure to the extent we would like. However, if we have developed good patterns of communication, we have the opportunity to help our children make sense of what they see and hear. Some of the best discussions I have had with my boys have been triggered by their exposure to content of concern. I remember walking into our living room several years ago and finding Micah, my second born, watching Game of Thrones. Having never seen it, I was taken aback. When Micah saw my facial expression, his response was quick: “It’s too late now, daddy. My innocence is lost forever.” Of course, a great discussion followed. PS – Micah was 18 years old. (At least, that was his physical age.)
Parents, be the filter and lens through which your child experiences the world. Next to direct modeling, it is one of the most important jobs you have.