Protecting our Young – Nurturing Innocence | Diane Viola
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Protecting our Young – Nurturing Innocence

I find nothing more beguiling than to see a man hold a baby in his arms with tenderness and awe. Built into the fascination we have with babies is our innate need to protect and nurture those who are most dependent on us and on whom we rely for the continuance of our species. Who we become and how we evolve as human beings requires us to be guardians of and spokespersons for our children, especially during their formative years. If we leave the raising of our children to external forces then we forgo our greatest responsibility; to ourselves, our children, and the future of our civilization.

Our children are very sensitive beings and when we expect them to toughen up or be grown-ups before their time; when we don’t respect and embrace their innocence, we abuse their right to grow up in the way nature intended. Little boys are meant to be little boys, they’ll become men soon enough. Little girls are meant to be little girls, not little women or sex symbols!

For decades our young people have shown us that they’re hurting; that the world they’re living in, driven by ‘Cradle To The Grave’ fear-based marketing and consumerism, is not meeting their most basic need for safety and a feeling of self-worth separate to how they look and what they ‘have’. Even children whose behaviour suggests otherwise, are telling us we haven’t paid attention to what it is they need to be taught, like boundaries, or empathy and compassion, to be able to bring the best of themselves forth.

While there is so much we are powerless to control, what we can control are the values we raise our children with and the reality we create by our action or inaction in service of what is in their best interest as the youngest members of society. The greatest ‘threat to our survival’ may not be what’s going on ‘out there’, but what goes on inside each of us, and inside our homes and schools if we fail to recognise that we can make a difference.

Before our children reach the age where their parents’ opinions is superseded by that of their peers, we need to ensure we have given them the kind of foundation that inoculates them from the pressures of a world ‘gone mad’. We need to build their trust in and respect of us; that we are the ‘big ones’, we are up for the job before us (daunting as that is), and they can count on us to take right action and provide positive role models of what it is to be human. In order to do that we must relinquish the need to be liked or popular and to speak up for what doesn’t work rather than adding to the disregard for innocence.

Our young people are here for a purpose far greater than that to which many have fallen prey. And it is in their alienation from their destiny (which on some level they know) by focusing on small, self-absorbed goals; that some of their frustration and anger stems. We need to give our kids a sense of dignity and purpose, an experience that they are here for a reason, which fosters their appreciation of who they really are and fuels a self-respect and self-trust which protects them from potentially devastating risk-taking behaviours.

As Trisha Broadbridge, the former Young Australian of the Year, said, “What people don’t understand about us is that we know we can do anything!” This speaks of young people who want to be a part of the solution, who know they can take their place in the world and that there is something on the horizon for them which alerts them to the necessity of acting in ways now that will guarantee their happiness in the future. What could you do today to ensure that we can harness and nurture that potential?

Inner Sense No. 24 | June 2011

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