I should have had that conversation with our triplets who had just turned eight. I should have shared those two words.
For Easter brunch, we celebrated with close friends. We sat on the patio so our children could play cornhole next to us.
I noticed a boy a few years older approach our kids to play. I didn’t think much of it at first, but I later had one of those unsettling feelings. So, I walked over to check on them several times.
Everything seemed fine. But, I had no idea, during that hour, what words were filling our children’s little minds. On the car ride home, I learned all about it.
This boy had told our kids every curse word in the book and said not to tell your parents. My daughters walked away at that point, but my son and my friend’s daughter stayed. The boy continued sharing other inappropriate topics, but thankfully, much of it went over our kids’ heads.
I missed it.
I’m usually perceptive if something inappropriate is happening, but that time, I missed it.
While we often tell our kids that they can talk to us about anything, I quickly realized there were two words I wish I had shared with them:
WALK AWAY. When someone talks about or does inappropriate things, just walk away.
It’s a simple concept, so I figured my kids would have known how to handle a situation like that. But, I missed it.
I was disappointed in myself for not following through on my gut feeling and knowing what was going on. I was disappointed that my son didn’t walk away like my daughters.
But then it hit me. As our kids get older, I can’t always be right there.
I would turn this into a teachable moment.
During the car ride home, we went over every curse word with them. We emphasized to our kids not to repeat the words and that they can always ask us any questions they have. Any questions at all.
The reality quickly surfaced that we can’t protect our kids from every bad conversation and influence. Instead, we need to equip them.
With our kids in activities, public school, and simply being around other kids day to day (like at an Easter brunch playing cornhole), inappropriate topics arise.
We get to be the ones to teach them how to handle situations like these. And if we don’t, they will learn on their own. If I want to be that safe haven they come to with questions and concerns, I need to welcome these conversations.
My goal is that my kids would have the wisdom and discernment to be able to walk away when tougher situations arise. So, I had the conversation with them:
If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, walk away.
Is someone says not to tell your parents, you walk away and tell us.
If someone shares inappropriate things, walk away.
If someone tries to show you something inappropriate, walk away.
If a conversation is not pleasing to the Lord, walk away.
The two words I should have taught them: Walk Away.
But part of parenting is learning, so I welcomed God’s grace.
Where there are mistakes, there is grace. Where we miss something, there is redemption. What started off as a bad situation was redeemed and a golden conversation came from it.
If we arm our kids with the empowering words, “walk away”, hopefully as they get older and face tougher peer pressure, they will have the discernment and confidence to be a leader and walk away.