Protecting Our Kids: Where Should We Draw the Line?

In today's world there are so many threats to our kids' physical and emotional well being that it is almost overwhelming. Cyber-bullying, kidnapping, too much violence and sex in the media and of course, the scars and damage that can occur in marriage and divorce. If these issues have kept you up at night, stay tuned as we will be dedicating more content to the crucial things you need to know to help you determine when to protect your kids and when to back off a bit. We will provide tools, experts and strategies to help you learn what you need to know and to find support to make the hard choices that must be made to keep our kids safe.

It is one thing to limit their time online or what they watch on TV, however when the issues are related to a bad parent, a bad teacher, or other danger that we don't always have control over, it can be very hard to know how to proceed. Most often the real dangers are not the ones we worry about when our kids are out with friends. It is typically at the hands of someone they know where the real damage occurs.

Family, friends, teachers and even their own parent can prove to be more harmful than any R rated movie they may see at a sleepover with their buddies and it is this particular threat that I will be focusing on the most.

These kinds of threats are the most dangerous because it can be difficult to know how to respond when a family member or teacher is in some way setting off the alarm bells in you and your child. If you find yourself in a situation where you are concerned, but not sure how to proceed, here are some tips to help you navigate these often frightening waters.

1. Listen to your child. This is the first and most important way to determine if there is a real threat. Is there a consistent and ongoing sense of fear or dread when they are around the person, or when the person is discussed? Kids often may have a reaction to someone based on something that happened at school or in the home that isn't based on real possible danger. So listen and watch and see if the fear or concern is consistent and ongoing.

2. Talk to your child. Kids will often be uncomfortable or in some cases, completely afraid to discuss a situation when they do truly feel there is danger. The more uncomfortable your child is, the better the chances are that there may be a problem. Find a subtle way to bring up the issue without directly asking them to confront the problem. If the conversation doesn't feel threatening they are more likely to open up.

3. Bring in a third party. If you do see a potential problem you should consider having your child talk to an outside party you trust. This can be a difficult process but the validation they receive and the safe environment that a counselor can provide will help them feel like they can talk more openly.
If there is a genuine problem, having the counselor in your corner can be very helpful. This is especially true if you are dealing with an abusive spouse or ex and you need confirmation of what is happening to your child.

4. Model strength and assertiveness. If you do discover there is a true cause for concern then it is up to you as the parent to show your child that nothing is more important than their safety and security. This may mean changing schools, moving, or divorcing your spouse and fighting for sole custody. However, if there is a real threat, than the most important gift you can give to your child is to teach them to be assertive and to stand up for themselves. This will not be the only time in their lives where they will be at risk in some way. Using this situation to teach them how to stand up for themselves, regardless of who the threat may be coming from is a very powerful tool to give them as they grow.

This issue needs to be discussed much more in my opinion. There are parents and teachers and friends who often put our kids in horrific positions and they need help knowing how to respond and how to process the confusion that comes from being hurt by people they thought they could trust. It is a unique and particularly damaging scenario and one that needs to talked about. There is help and some great information available and it is the most important job of being a parenting...protecting our kids.

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