Hello from Auntie Artichoke and beautiful Montana:

Thanks so much for commenting and asking about this tricky subject. We want our children to be open, affirming and respectful to all, but also don’t want them to be hurt.

In a recent parenting class (where I learn all my best ideas) one of the participants voiced concern over allowing her child to help an elderly neighbor. As we brainstormed over ideas, it was clear that to deny them the chance to give service was to send a message we did not want to send. Also, this might be an opportunity for a multi-generational relationship that would be beneficial to all parties.

However, we want to strenthen the child’s communication skills and teach her/him to present an assertive, confident stance that implies that they are not victims. Our goal is to help them be aware but not afraid. In the instance above, the child saw the elderly neighbor struggling with groceries, but was afraid to offer to carry the sack because Mom had said that a stranger was someone whose name you did not know.

In researching for Caution Without Fear-safeguarding children from sexual abuse, it became clear that sometimes parents (including me) had talked so much about stranger danger, that when the child was abused by a close friend, they didn’t tell.

Like many of life’s little quandaries, there are no easy answers. But I would love to start a dialog.

Please join in and share your two cents worth!

Teaching Children to Speak to Strangers