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This was the year my son asked to know the truth about the Tooth Fairy. His suspicions were raised after hearing that a friend at school caught her mom sneaking the tooth out of her room. He didn’t want to be played for a fool, so he asked me point blank: “Mom, are you the tooth fairy?”
Most of the time the things they really want to know will come out of the blue… like when we’re driving, when I’m in the middle of an important writing project, or right before bedtime. Really, parenting happens at the most inopportune times. Aside from our homeschooling routine, there is rarely a time when I sit down and answer their questions thoughtfully and carefully.
That plan only exists in my head.
The things they want to know are based in their own experiences, the things they are curious about that directly affect their most pressing needs, like why is ice cream so cold, and why do parents get to stay up later than kids. They are much more likely to be attentive to my answer when it’s based on something they really want to know or have been thinking about.
But when I want them to know something like, why you need to stop interrupting people, or why talking loud in a group of people is annoying, that information is more likely to fall on deaf ears and best communicated in short, quick sentences. They need to have a really strong motivation for wanting to learn. It has to be affecting their lives right now.
When I try to teach them things before they’re ready.
There is a phrase in early childhood education called Developmentally Appropriate Practice. It’s an idea based on brain research that proves children can only operate in certain capacities at certain ages.
For instance, you can’t give a 2 year old scissors until he has developed the physical and mental dexterity to cut. This is why they play with blocks and squishy toys to develop those muscles. They are also learning to comprehend commands and timing, so when toddlers ignore a parent’s first directive, they are not always being defiant, their little brain is still making connections.
Sometimes in my effort to move things along, I’ll introduce things to the kids that were fun for me as a kid, but I quickly learn they not quite ready. I was so excited to get them a Little Critters Dollhouse with all the fun furniture pieces and tiny toys; it sat on the shelf for months.
My four and five-year-old weren’t interested until almost a year later when their pretend play skills were in a place where they could appreciate it. I had to come to realize that the doll house was more important to me than to them.
When I know they’re not ready.
There are things in this world that are just too heavy for kids to know. We try to keep them away from over-sexualized images on TV, and we avoid explaining jokes with deeper innuendos. Sometimes it’s violence and war, gore and tragedy.
We explain that there are tough things in this world, but at their delicate age there are just certain things that need to be reserved for the teen years when they’re mental prepared to handle them. I pray all the time, God, help me to know when it’s the right time to tell them. I want to protect their innocence.
Because knowing too much sometimes is just too much. I believe as parents we have to keep our eyes open and our ears alert for things that are too mature for their little minds to handle.
See our article: Talking to Kids About Sex
Sometimes I want to know things before I’m ready
If you were to take a peek inside my devotional journal over the past year, the diary where I reflect on things I’m learning about God, where I ask him questions, where I spell out my feelings and fears, you would see the same petition over and over again: Lord, please help me understand….
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my need to know things. I thrive on learning so that I can be better, so that I can execute action, and progress forward. But sometimes it’s not always the right time to progress, or at least in my own evaluation.
My timing is not God’s, but I like to think that I have that much control over my own life. That’s why I ask Him for understanding. I want to be better, but sometimes He just says, “This is enough for now.”
It’s like when the Apostle Paul revealed his “thorn in the flesh,” on top of all the insults, persecutions, difficulties he went through in his ministry of spreading the gospel. Paul asked for help with the things out of his control; the things he couldn’t quite break through, so he asked the Lord to take them, and testified to God’s reply:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASB)
It’s about trust. As we want our babies to trust that we’ve been around the block a time or two, we need to trust that God has the whole world in His hands. He is sovereign over time and space, and He still cares enough to not let us get ahead of ourselves and trip over our own feet.
[bctt tweet=”My timing is not God’s, but I like to think that I have that much control over my own life. That’s why I ask Him for understanding. I want to be better but sometimes He just says this is enough for now.” username=”PracticalFamily”]
So about that Tooth Fairy…
When my son asked me for a real answer, I knew that he was more interested in truth even if it tore down the facade of magical creatures coming into his room. He’s developed the critical thinking skills he needs to guard against deep disappointment and has embraced reality in a way that he would not have comprehended at a younger age.
His response was beautiful. Immediately, he started planning how to make his sister’s next tooth super special. He was ready to step into that role.
God’s timing is perfect, He knows when we’re ready. He knows when we’ve developed the muscles we need to handle the next step in our walk of faith. In the meantime, trusting Him means leaning more on His power and omniscience than on what our fragile frame can handle.
How about you? Are you waiting for God to answer a prayer or reveal something new? Pray for understanding, for wisdom, but also for a heart of obedience. He may be building your muscles in one area to prepare you for the next. If it doesn’t come soon, isn’t His grace still sufficient?