He is Making a List and Checking it Twice

person marking check on opened book
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Gifts Untouched

Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.

BibleGateway, NLT.

Sadly for most children, it is not the most magical time of the year; the holidays can be triggers for the scariest or most dreadful time. For some, a year may have passed since the death of a loved one, the death of a marriage, or worse, the death of innocence, such as sexual abuse, which can damage their futures. During a time of supposedly holiday cheer and goodwill toward humanity, children are at a higher risk of sexual abuse, and not always by Stranger Danger. Children are exposed to predators within the boundaries of their homes, relatives’ homes, at a sleepover with a friend, etc. Some parents are either unaware because of the hustle and bustle of last-minute shopping and holiday parties, or their heads are spinning and not from wine.

Studies show that nine out of ten children are abused by someone they know, such as a family member, friend, older children, or someone of authority. Even today, children worldwide long for a home and a family that loves them and protects them. A material gift momentarily comforts them; however, their deepest desire remains to feel safe in their homes, loved, heard, and valued. Sadly, houses are open to just about anyone during the holiday season, and children are at a higher risk of sexual abuse by the perpetrator while their parents are off doing the last-minute shopping, preoccupied with preparations, or worse, too drunk to hear the cries in the night. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!

The perpetrator threatens or shames the child into silence; eventually, the signs will appear through their behaviors, illnesses, depression, isolation, or suicide. Some children repress and suffer silently. It is crucial that parents need to be mindful of their child’s behavior during the holidays and not check the list if they are naughty or nice. They need to check their list of who is safe enough to come over for dinner or stay over for a holiday. The best way to check the checklist of people coming over is by including the children’s input and doing check-ups on their emotional behaviors. For instance, if your child was excited about the holiday, but you said uncle so and so is coming over, and your child withdrawals and isolates, that needs to be addressed IMMEDIATELY. Not after the holidays; this is crucial firstly because your child needs to know that they matter and their safety is a priority. Second, their mood changes from peaceful to bitterness and negativity; don’t dismiss this emotion as a lousy mood, selfishness, or negative attitude. Bitterness is not always a destructive emotion; it can be a warning signal to you, the parent; keep your discernment antenna activated, get curious, and ask questions without judgment or interrogation.

 Bitterness is an indicator of an injustice that caused a wound so deep it needs to heard and immediately attended to. If they are not validated or vindicated, they can become perpetrators or, sadly, commit suicide. 
If you know something, do something, or take a stand and report.

Be Proactive

Things to pay attention to:

  • If your child DOES NOT want to hug someone, DO NOT FORCE THEM.
  • If your child DOES NOT want to sit on SANTA’S, OR ANYONE’s LAP, DO NOT FORCE THEM.
  • LET THEM know if they want to sleep in your room at night. It’s okay. You can have your children camp out in your bedroom with you. They will feel safe, and you can have peace of mind.
  • If your child seems clingy, ask them why, and assure them that you want them to FEEL SAFE. Sometimes they can be overwhelmed with all the activities, but don’t assume this is always the case. Be curious, attentive, and listen. Also, pay attention to their body; the body speaks loudly if something is wrong; the body keeps score.
  • Enlist a Watchman. Some people enlist someone who is not drinking to drive home. For the sake of your children’s safety, enlist a safe watchman to watch over the children. No one is more qualified than a “SAFE” older sibling, parent, or grandparent.” Notice I emphasized “Safe.” Realistically, not all adults are considered safe. Listen to your gut.

Resources: https://dcs.az.gov/report-child-abuse