Yesterday, as I dropped our oldest little guy off to school, he casually informed me. “Mom, there is a house across from my school that has two windows busted out. I’m pretty sure someone was murdered there.”

What a great note to leave on, right?

I was able to keep the panic and confusion in my mind and calmly explain how I’m sure that’s not the case. And that we don’t need to think or talk about things like that. He shrugged, told me he loved me, and headed inside.

As parents, we need to shelter our kids from as many of the outside elements as we can. I’m not a parent expert by any means, so take this how you will, but I fully believe we shouldn’t shelter them so much that they enter this world naive and unprepared to deal with things that we can’t always protect them from. Many things, if they don’t learn from us, they will learn elsewhere! Who do you want teaching your kids?

As parents, there will be times we aren’t around, that our kids will be faced with things from foul words and speech, drugs, alcohol, inappropriate behaviors, and so on. And sadly, it’s spreading down to our younger kids that, as early as grade school, they are talking about things I was oblivious to until I was an adult!!! I’ve found in those moments, we do our best to teach through them. Because parenting is a full time, 24/7 teaching job, and we are the ones responsible for preparing them for life.

Explain why we don’t act those ways. Explain why we don’t use those words and how it’s ok to walk away when someone is. Explain how important it is to avoid chemicals or narcotics into your body, and if it warrants as they get a little older, let them watch an episode of Cops. Show them what that stuff will do to you and why it’s important to avoid it. I’m not saying flip on MTV, but when they ask why they can’t watch shows, because all the others are doing it, take the time to explain how much you value them as a human and how the Bible tells us to only fill our minds with things that are good, pleasing, and pure. And ask them, what would Jesus think? Don’t just shut them off with “because I said so.” Treat them with kindness and respect like you would expect them to do!

Maybe I’m the one naive. But this has been on my heart and I’m praying we are on the right track. Speaking of prayer … for your kids it’s the most important thing you can do as a parent! Not all kids are the same. But pray and ask God for the wisdom to raise the child He has blessed you with. And He will.

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).

Melinda Merritt is the working mother of two young children and the wife to a peace officer in Texas. She ministers to women through small group studies, and others in general with her Facebook page, This Little Light of Mine.