News story from today’s headlines: a 12-year-old girl was home alone when a stranger rang the doorbell. The stranger, a man who had been arrested last year for allegedly abducting a 17-year-old girl with mental challenges, then went around to the back of the house and kicked in the back door.
The frightened girl did several things right. She did not open the front door to a stranger. When she saw that a stranger was trying to get in even though she hadn’t answered the doorbell, she retreated to another part of the house and called her mom. At her mom’s direction, she armed herself with her family’s .40-caliber Glock, barricaded herself in a closet, and called 911.
As the intruder broke into the room where the little girl was hiding, she fired the gun and hit him. He ran off, and the authorities arrived a few moments later—just ahead of her mom, who drove home as fast as she reasonably could.
Read the original story here: http://www.kxii.com/home/headlines/Twelve-year-old-Bryan-Co-girl-shoots-home-intruder–174678431.html
Why am I telling you this? Partly it’s because I want you to understand that kids grow up. We talk about “kids and guns” as if all children are toddlers, and as if every child remains irresponsible and untrustworthy until some magic date on the calendar, and as if there were a stark, sharp line between childhood and adulthood. But none of these things are true. Babies are a wonderful way to start people! But people don’t stay babies. They become toddlers, preschoolers, primary and elementary schoolkids, and eventually young adults. At every step along this journey, they become more capable of handling responsibility… if their parents take the time and make the effort to help that happen. It does not happen all at once on their 18th or 21st birthday. It happens gradually, as they grow and learn.
Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, if you have done things right, your child will become old enough to be left alone in the house. It has long been my opinion that a child left home alone by herself should be responsible enough to be trusted, alone, with every item inside the home. That includes the hot stove, the sharp butcher knife, and every other dangerous tool in your kitchen. It includes every poison in the cupboards and every power tool in the garage. A kid left home alone doesn’t need to know how to use every item in the place, but if she’s going to be left alone, she should be responsible enough to avoid playing with anything she doesn’t know how to use, and to follow the safety rules for handling the ones she’s allowed to use. If she’s not responsible enough to do that, she shouldn’t be left alone with them.
Here’s the truth: simply getting older doesn’t make a child responsible. Only education and firmly compassionate attention to their behavior does that. What does responsible parenting look like? It might look like this story from martial arts instructor Kelly Muir. Her son skipped a lunch meeting with his teacher, a meeting he had agreed to attend. So she pulled what she calls a “ninja parenting response moment,” marched down to the school, and administered the appropriate consequences. She followed through. And her son responded. This is a young man on track to become a trustworthy adult, because his mom cares about helping him develop his own sense of responsibility. She’s willing to do what it takes to make that happen. Good for her!
In the news story that kicked off this post, a little girl at risk of abduction, rape, and murder was able to protect herself until the authorities arrive. She was able to save her own life because she had the tools and the knowledge to do it. That’s a good thing. While I hate living in a world where a little girl can be damaged by a bad person, it gives me hope for the world to see that even a little girl can fight back and stay safe, when her parents have taught her how to do it.