Over the last month, parents and caregivers have packed their young adults up and moved them into dorms and apartments for the start of another year. Just as they did when their children were young, these parents want to reassure their questioning young adults that they are safe, protected, sheltered in their new homes on campus. But just as National Campus Safety Awareness Month works to do, many of these parents are trying to figure out how to tell their children that this is “supposed to” be true, but required vigilance all the same. In the post below, Joel Moore discusses the conversation he had with his young daughter about this very idea.
I am so very proud of my children. Landmarks of development and growth occur every day. My son has started kindergarten this year. My daughter is in second grade and wants to join the Girl Scouts. As a parent/survivor how am I to cope with this inherent almost primal desire to cut the parental umbilical cord and venture out into the world on their own? How am I to cope with a dangerous and gruesome world that cares nothing for the young and weak? How am I to cope with this reality without locking my children in the basement just to keep the boogeyman from doing to them what he did to me?
This week my daughter came home from her first “Brownie” meeting. It was located in a church building near my home. As she began to tell me of all the fun she had, I looked at her solemnly and asked, “Did you feel safe there?”
Exasperated like the thousands of times I have asked her the same question before, she rolled her eyes at me, and said, “Yes daddy. You are supposed to feel safe at church.”
The words echoed in my mind. A question I just couldn’t dismiss right away. You are supposed to feel safe at church. You are supposed to feel safe at school. You are supposed to feel safe at home among parents that are supposed to love you.
Presumed to be true or real without conclusive evidence
In my younger years I thought that as well. I was supposed to feel safe at church; supposed to feel safe with my pastor; supposed to receive safe counseling and guidance from the leader of the largest church in the city; supposed to grow into a whole, well-adjusted human being.
I looked into my daughters bright, innocent blue eyes as she looked to me to confirm her preconception that churches are indeed safe places for girls and boys. I wanted to say “no” that churches are not safe. You should never darken the door of any church building if you want to stay innocent and trusting.
My heart sunk at the thought of what happened so many years ago. My own sense of safety stolen from me in a way I am not sure I will ever recover from. Churches are not places I feel safe. How do I tell my own flesh and blood, my daughter, that she is “supposed to” feel safe in a place I can’t even enter without terror and rage bubbling in my soul. Flashbacks of a betrayal and abuse by a man who should have been safe are always with me.
Instead, I replied, “Yes my love, churches are supposed to be safe. Yet, you must be aware of your surroundings at all times, no matter where you are.”
I hope I said the right thing. I can only pray that she will be safe from the monsters that lurk everywhere, in churches and schools, in friends’ homes and dark alleyways. I pray my children will be safe. After all that’s what you are supposed to do, right?