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Stranger Anxiety

March 30, 2012, 0 Comments

Few things weighed heavily upon my heart recently. The cases of attempted kidnapping seems to be on the rise. News of each kidnapping cases spread like wild fire across all social media sites, but especially on sites where parents frequent.

On the one hand there are the authorities who are asking the public to remain calm and on the other hand parents with young kids are going berserk over the threat of their children living in a not-safe-anymore country. To add fuel to fire is the press statement from authorities which appeared aloof and cold.

It is hard to ignore the cries of the nation, or to be specific parents. I was chatting with a lady in the hawker centre yesterday when she abruptly cut short our conversation, and uttered “sorry, I had to go see my son, you know with all the kidnapping cases recently …” and she hurried onwards towards the nearby playground where her 6 yr old son was playing.

I remembered holding my little baby, not too long ago, coaxing the little one to be held or wave hello to passing strangers we meet at the supermarket, malls or playground. Those 3-8mths old babies were in the phase of stranger anxiety and most parents I know were dying to get their little babes to ‘socialise’ with the world. I know, these cuties do attract quite some attention. Point is, kids do have that innate sense of danger. They don’t know alot, but they know enough not to want to be near strangers. God has so graciously in-built each one of us a conscience to know what is inherently bad. We are the guilty ones who would coerce, persuade and push them out before they are ready.

So that was stranger anxiety. How different is it now that a kid is say 4 or even 6 yrs old? I don’t know. I can only say that when someone, even someone I am talking to for the first time grabs my kid’s hand, he would say no and shirk away. The same conscience that has protected them since they were babies is still working inside of them. The only difference is that they now use words instead of crying.

I remembered being in Indonesia where kidnapping cases abound in broad day light. It happens in swanky malls right down to the ones that looked like a ghost town. We never let our kids out of sight, our kids know that if they can’t see us and we can’t see them – that is call the danger zone. We practise this here too, in parks, playgrounds and all public places. Kids are to hold our hands when we are out and walk alongside us. I will tell them, don’t walk before me, you can’t see me. Don’t walk behind me, I can’t see you. Walk alongside me and we can chit chat. :) The kids loved that.

Some few weeks ago, one of my sons recieved a little toy someone sneaked into his hands while I was holding his other hand and walking off. I was surprised at that unexpected gift from a total stranger. I turned around and asked, “sorry, did you just give him a toy?” The man and lady answered “Yah, he is so cute”. Wow, I remembered feeling absolutely blessed. The scripture says “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” I know that when our faces shone, their hearts did too.

How do we teach our child not to fear strangers altogether yet be able to stay alert to danger?
For one, I know that any emotions that parents possessed would inevitably be communicated to the child via body language or words, so I am trying not to behave like a control freak. Instead, I tried to tell my children “Do you know that Pa Pa God has very large angels who is protecting you and to help you whenever you are afraid?

I wanted my kids to see the upper hand of God rather than to focus on the deeds of man. We tell them the news and manage their emotions so that they too can stay calm and learn to do the right thing at the right time. In many cases, things that happened are out of our control and truly, the only thing we could do is to instill in our kids, eyes of faith that goes beyond survival skills.

And for that matter we surrendered our lives to whom we know whose love is deeper than the deepest ocean and wider than the skies.

Since God knows every single number of hair on our heads, should we not trust that he knows us, loved us, and will do his utmost to protect us? The same God who had stopped the sun from moving or calmed the storm will be the same God who will protect our children.

I learnt that in life’s mystery, we can still choose to trust, simple because we know, he loved us.

Do what is required, but fixed our eyes on the perfector of our faith – Jesus Christ. Peace! Shalom!

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