Saving Childhood

A class of first-graders is having a discussion, and what are they talking about? The letters of the alphabet? The sounds animals make? No, nothing so innocent. These six-year-olds are discussing sex-change operations. It seems the mother of one the little tykes doesn't want to be a mommy any more; she wants to be a daddy. And the teacher has decided that the upcoming operation is just the topic for this circle time. She even invited the mother to come and tell the kids all about it. The incident occurred in Brookline, Massachusetts, and it's one of the many examples cited in a new book by talk show host Michael Medved and his wife, Diane, a clinical psychologist. It's called Saving Childhood, and it traces the ways our culture seems bent on destroying childhood innocence. What is it about contemporary theories of education that would allow adults to seriously think sex-change operations would be an appropriate topic for six-year-olds? The answer is that "the very idea of parental protectiveness" has been shot down, say the Medveds. It's been "overwhelmed by relentless pressure from a society that seems determined to expose its young to every perversion and peril." The supposedly enlightened view is that the kids are going to face these issues eventually, so why not prepare them? But that logic is flawed. Imagine telling a four-year-old about schizophrenia or torture or serial killings. Sure, they're going to face a world where such horrors occur, but exposing them before they're capable of processing what these things mean is not helpful—in fact, it's actually harmful to their emotional development. It overwhelms them with a sense that the world is a dangerous, uncontrollable place. What kids really need, the Medveds write, is just the opposite: a strong sense of security. In those early years, their own bodies and minds are developing so rapidly that they crave for "anything that anchors them, that offers them comfort and stability to undergird their development." In other words, the best way to prepare children to face the adult world is to let them be children—to give them a safe and secure environment to grow up at their own pace. The Medveds recommend creating a sense of security by establishing daily, weekly, and yearly rituals for your children. Even the simple ritual of having dinner at the same time every night—and refusing to take phone calls during meals—can be a great source of comfort. Weekly rituals are also invaluable, like having spaghetti every Friday night, followed by a family video, with the whole family selecting it. These things may sound trivial, but as the Medveds put it, "a distinct symptom of dysfunctional families is failure to establish wonderfully hokey traditions." Today parents need to be especially diligent in giving their kids a sense of security. The danger is coming from all sides—not only from movies and TV shows that expose them to sex and violence far too early, but even from well-meaning teachers who think first-graders are old enough to talk about complex subjects like parents who change their sex. It's time to find ways to keep our children innocent and protected just as God intended.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary