The battleground — a child’s imagination
The other day, my son asked me, “Mommy, will I be a boy or a man when I get to heaven?”
I told him truthfully, “I don’t know.”
He then said, “Well, if I get to choose, I want to stay a boy; and you would always be Mommy and Daddy would always be Daddy.”
It touched my heart because I realized that he was sharing, in his own little way, that he was happy at this point in his little 6-year-old life. Then, he and I, along with his 5-year-old sister, spent the next half hour or so imagining what heaven would be like, and how great it was going to be. None of us knew what this heavenly world would be like, but it was fun to wonder and talk about it together.
Since that day, I have often thought about that conversation at our kitchen table. I watch as my children get older, and I see how their world is growing beyond our not-so-little family of seven.
At times, my heart fills with pride and hope as I see excitement in their eyes when they read a book, watch a show, or learn something new about the world around them.
However, many times I also get frustrated when I see how many children’s entertainment options flagrantly contradict the values and beliefs my husband and I are trying to instill in them. They remind me that my husband and I are engaged in a very real battle for one of our world’s most precious resources — the imaginations of our children.
As a mother, my impulse is to circle around my children and place a wall between them and the world and not let anything come into our family unit that contradicts what my husband and I are teaching them.
However, I realize that such a wall would not prepare them for the world as they grow older. It’s in that moment that I am reminded that our job as parents is not so much to shield them as it is to prepare them for a world that bombards their imaginations with images, messages and values relentlessly.
But how do I prepare my children for such a battle, especially one that is so pervasive and insistent? I think the key is found in the conversation that day at my kitchen table.
The battle is won when my husband and I spend time with our children and engage their imaginations with thoughts that are even more wondrous than what they see on TV.
I wish such conversations happened all the time, but they don’t. However, when I listen, God seems to use the simplest of things like a question to open up some amazing conversations. Such conversations strengthen my children’s faith, increase their reasoning, and build their confidence.
For me, these conversations are a joy and give me a peak into the men and women they growing into — even if they prefer to remain little boys when they get to heaven.
[Bonnie B. Willis is co-founder of The Willis Group, LLC, a Learning, Development, and Life Coaching company here in Fayette County and lives in Fayetteville along with her husband and their five children.]