Boundaries with kids
Last updated 9/13/2023 at 5:28pm
Many years ago, I read a book called, "Boundaries with Kids" by Drs. Cloud and Townsend. Healthy boundaries were the talk of the town it seemed in the early 21st century. The reason this came back to mind is because Area 1 has a Special Election with mail-in only ballots by Sept.19.
Sadly, one candidate is accusing the other's supporters of being extremist and wanting to "ban" books. Those being falsely misunderstood feel they just want parents' individual boundaries of what their kids can be exposed to when they aren't around to discuss these topics with their child whose maturity development may vary from another child to be respected. This is especially true of students with special needs, whether mild or severe, that can even be more easily influenced and manipulated by peers or adults.
While the use of the word "ban" is purposely chosen to be sensationalizing, it is therefore also a very misleading exaggeration. The truth is parents who want their families "boundaries" respected are very pro-accurate history learning from both the good and bad, but just have reasonable concerns about the impact of recent hypersexualized books that may desensitize sexual activity at ages as young as six in books like in "Beyond Magenta," normalize grooming and pedophilia, or just aren't age appropriate for their kid.
We understand that some kids experienced these things as a child and identifying with a story of someone else who has, may help them to not feel alone. Yet, it is not unreasonable to ask those kids' families to be made aware if they are struggling with any issue if parents are not already. This is because kids come with different personalities.
Some open up to their parents more than others. This is not always a parent's fault. Many try hard to connect deeply with their kids only to be met with one word answers at certain stages of development. The family can then decide if they feel a certain book would benefit their child and go get it for their child for free at a local public library or buy it elsewhere.
Plus, I have heard some who believe all these hypersexualized books are appropriate, including "Fun Home" which has drawings of a boy giving oral sex to another male and more, say that TK-12 public schools should never restrict access to any book/materials. But schools already do this. They have policies in their handbook to do so that they are no longer following.
For example, schools don't have Playboy or Playgirl in their libraries. So, the question isn't really whether to restrict access or not. The question is, what line or boundary do parents desire schools to set when restricting exposure to certain controversial topics?
Since each minor student's brain development, maturity, intelligence, life experience and family values are unique, parents typically know best as to what and when their specific student is ready to understand and handle certain topics. If the school thinks that a family doesn't know best, then we don't presume parents are guilty of danger until proven innocent in America. We have what is called "due process."
The schools may call CPS and ask them to do an investigation that they are more trained and qualified to perform. They can do this quickly if need be. No one wants any child harmed or further traumatized, but some only see one side of the coin and don't realize that trauma can happen when a child is exposed to things they aren't mature enough to know how to understand or act upon.
So for parents who are fine with their kids reading certain things, I say that is your choice and your responsibility to have those books available at your home. Just like you would probably tell a person of faith. "Censuring" materials, which is what it is called when parents and School Boards together determine a policy for what is healthy exposure for minors to access, doesn't "ban" a family from exposing their child to that information via other avenues.
So, it seems the real question parents and schools have always asked is what books/materials/etc. do we restrict our children from viewing and at what ages? If you believe most parents know their child best and each child matures at different rates, then you understand that part of parenting is setting limitations and having boundaries to protect them.
Parenting is not just giving minors things they may want whether good or bad. For example, some kids are ready to drive at 16 like the state permits, but others need to wait until they are older. Responsible parents are the experts on their children and can best discern what might be beneficial.
On another note, when I attend school board meetings and listen to those who are advocating for kids to have access to these hypersexualized materials, I have noticed that it often comes from those in the community that no longer have children in the system.
Therefore, they will not be the ones directly picking up the pieces and loving on the kids if damage is done to them or deeply grieving if suicide is the end result caused by the suggestions. (If true causes of underlying anxiety and depression are never really addressed appropriately, suicide rates increase, surface solutions can provide only temporary relief.).
I truly value anyone's input no matter their stage in life, and still encourage them to continue to share their perspective, but I do believe in this instance that the School Board Trustees need to emphasize their consideration to the variety of perspectives of those that are currently raising kids in today's world which is much different than it was when the older folks who speak raised kids.
Lief Hansen currently has four boys in the system set to attend FUHS as soon as next year, not so the other candidate. He gets first hand what it is to be a parent in today's world and will respect every parent’s choice as to what they would like their children to be exposed to. The other candidate feels she knows best what is "appropriate" for every child and that the school and State have the final say, not the parents.
Area 1 when you go to vote, no matter which way you lean, please ask yourself if a topic you didn't agree with was being made available or even taught at times to your child, would you want the school to respect your values and choices to have boundaries on what materials they allow in the schools and let you decide whether you want your child being taught a certain value or not? Or would you prefer they decide for your family?
For example, a specific religion. This same group who claims we should never restrict access to ideas in school, fought hard to get opportunities like time for daily prayer "banned" from the schools, since not everyone agrees on that value. These books are no different, since not everyone can agree on the benefits of them.
Plus, the values that are being taught in schools have gone beyond neutral topics such as kindness and respect to a secular personal belief system/religion that is often the direct opposite of a variety of families of a variety of faiths and beliefs. If one personal belief is not to be promoted by the State schools, then neither is another. Secular is not synonymous with neutral.
Also, it is a lie that anyone asking for their choice on what they view as a healthy boundary to be respected has ever asked for books like Scarlet Letter, etc. to be taken off the shelves, or wants history books or the Constitution to be removed. If anything we have begged for more of the Constitution and history to be taught, so that our students can glean wisdom from it.
If those of the other view are open-minded enough, I hope they can better understand now where some families are coming from and see how it is inclusive, thoughtful and an act of love to respect each other's boundaries, especially for the most valuable precious people in our lives, our children.