On one occasion, Norah was afraid to play downstairs by herself. Her dad did his best to encourage her not to fear. In response to whatever he said, Norah's spirits rallied and she agreed to keep a positive attitude adding, "You're right, Dad. No bad guys can come up the hill anyway. There's a 'No Bad Guys' sign at the bottom."

Her dad and I had never noticed a sign like that, but it turns out she was right. We pass this sign every time we drive home. And, even though she's only four and can't read the words, she'd figured out that the shady character was up to no good and the circle with a slash through it meant guys like him weren't welcome around here.

Like many kids, Norah often expresses a fear of "bad guys." And, while her dad and I want to do our best to dispel her fears, since they can paralyze her, we never go so far as to tell her they are unfounded. We feel like that would be a disservice to her, not to mention a lie. In this fallen world, a child's ignorance is, quite frankly, a liability. And unfortunately, their innocence is no surety against evil, either.

As parents, we're constantly trying to balance our desire to prepare Norah for the dangers around her with our concern that the truth will be too much for her to bear. Like lifting heavier and heavier weights builds more muscle, we think knowing more actually makes Norah less vulnerable. But, also like lifting weights, we feel we must carefully calculate how much truth we reveal, since too little won't benefit her enough and too much could make her legs buckle.

We realize leaving all the dangers out of our discussions and dismissing all her fears would certainly make parenting easier, but for us, dodging the matter of evil simply isn't even an option. I'm not sure if he had kids, but I think JRR Tolkein would agree with our methods, since he once warned, "It does not pay to leave a dragon out of your calculations if you live near him."


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