Sheltered childhood not a bad thing

Published 10:22pm Friday, February 15, 2013

Growing up my friends liked to call me “sheltered.” That was because I went to church every Sunday, I knew that we shouldn’t push or shove each other and that I should never talk back to an adult. I didn’t say swear words and there were certain shows on television that I wasn’t allowed to watch.

Being called “sheltered” used to bother me, but as I’ve grown up I can see how much my parents cared about me — and actually “sheltered” me from harm by training me respect adults, and do my best to keep my thoughts and my words pure.

I was reminded of this particular appreciation for my parents this week while shopping for groceries.

While waiting in line to pay for groceries you can’t help but glance at the flashy magazine pictures and punchy headlines resting at your eyelevel.

And this week while waiting to checkout, I saw a young boy and a girl who looked to be about 8 and 11 years old, one was still wearing their elementary school uniform. They stood behind me, bored waiting in line, and instead of looking at the rows and rows of different flavors of bubble gum, they picked up and thumbed through the glossy pages of the check out aisle magazines.

They read aloud all the words my parents told me not to look at growing up. It literally shocked me to hear the words you see on those magazine covers coming from the mouth of someone who was practically a baby.

I looked up at the father who was waiting in line behind them, eager to see if he’d tell those children to put down the magazines, and not to read those words. But instead I saw that he was reading right along with them, nodding in agreement when they’d shout out which actress has the “sexiest hair at the Grammys.”

The experience stayed with me and has been heavy on my heart.

I know that I’m not a parent, and wouldn’t want to tell someone what they should and shouldn’t do for their child — but I am a big sister, a former camp counselor and a supreme babysitter. In that position of leadership, it is my job to do everything in my power to protect those I have been put in charge of. And protection is not always a physical thing, it can be mental or emotional as well.

We should be protecting our children from things that could harm them. I realize they may just be words and young children may not even understand what they mean, but I wouldn’t want my little brother adding that language to his vocabulary — even if he didn’t understand it.

I’d like to encourage parents, teachers and even siblings to remember just how much of an impact your words and actions, or lack there of, have on the children in your life. You don’t have to shelter them, but do keep them from harm.

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