Have you ever wondered why we don't allow children to drive automobiles on the highway when they are 6 years old? Or, why we don't let the same child operate a backhoe that is digging for natural gas lines? There are so many instances where allowing children to engage in an activity would be detrimental to the task and dangerous to the child. I always smirk a little and seeth a lot when a TV show comes on and the disclaimer right at the beginning is directed toward vile content that may not be suitable for children. Great big thank you for letting me know!
I like to think I have a sippy cup full of common sense. Doesn't sound like much but then again it doesn't take much to navigate life. Yesterday, I was sealing the driveway and happened to be shaking one of the five gallon buckets to mix the product. I saw this little picture on the side of the bucket and immediately thought of all the ways to keep children safe. From a nit-picking perspective, I would argue the picture is not to scale and the child is too big in relation to the bucket but let's set that pettiness aside for now.
How many parents and grandparents have known the excruciating pain of losing a child or grandchild to a senseless and avoidable death? Too many to count, I'm sure. In a moment a child can be playing safely and the next moment they are in peril. They move that quickly and their curiosity is like that of a cat. The pictorial disclaimer on the side of the bucket rivals the ones that inform us to keep plastic bags, electric cords, rope, and so on and so forth away from children. The brain in a child isn't fully developed and cannot fully discern all the stimuli that reside around them. They can't always tell danger from safety. They don't see a five gallon bucket as a possible enemy. Their upper body muscles and core strength aren't developed enough to help them push their way out of the bucket if they become face down in it.
How often do we allow infants and children in close proximity to dangerous things with little regard for their safety? How often do we allow infants and children engage an event, task, or stimulus without considering their ability to navigate the hidden pitfalls? We want our children to develop and grow more intellectual, yet often it seems like we're rushing them forward faster than they can digest the information. Parents and caregivers are guides to help the infant/child navigate life. We are supposed to help them understand their bodies, their environment, and their connection to God.
Unfortunately, we don't always take responsibility as a parent to help our children grow and mature with a worldview that includes a healthy view of their body, environment, and God. What we are left with are children that are confused at best and misguided at worst. To allow a child to play around an unattended five gallon bucket of water, to let them watch any kind of media that celebrates murder, rape and drug use, to raise them in a vacuum without God, and to allow their five year old brain determine their own gender seems to miss the mark as a parent.
Growing toward maturity from a physical, emotional, and spiritual perspective is how we develop a healthy sense of self and sense of connection to this world. We must begin with understandings that fit our experience. I would never dream of offering a newborn child or grandchild a huge plate of Chinese food. It would wreck their delicate gastrointestinal system not to mention their gag reflex for solid food. I would never try to force feed biblical Hebrew and Greek upon a brand new Christian.
"Brothers (and sisters), I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready." (1 Corinthians 3:1-2, NIV)
We probably shouldn't be running our infants and children through mazes and menageries that confuse and misguide. God forbid we should cause a child to sin and stumble in their lives. Jesus had some harsh thoughts about this:
"But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! (Matthew 18:6-7, NIV)
It seems as though the world continues to devolve further down into confusion and chaos. God is not the author of either one of these nor should we be. Let's grab our sippy cups, employ some common sense, and help develop the next generation of people who understand their identity, what danger looks like, and who God is. None of us are perfect, but we can walk toward perfection and this is best done together.