Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dangerous Fences - Fences or Windows?

(a parable)

The following is what transpired, as best as I can remember it, of the conversation I mentioned at the end of the previous post:

"Windows are much better than fences," I heard my son assert, but his sister's retort was quick and decisive, "You've got to be kidding! Haven't you learned anything from mom and dad?" [I was not a little nervous at this turn in the conversation, but I was also too interested to interject. My whole life was invested into these two and their siblings, and there was too much at stake to simply ignore such an important conversation. Besides...I was curious as to why my son had so thoroughly rejected my fences.]

Son:

Of course, I love mom and dad dearly and greatly respect what they were trying to accomplish [I was thankful for this]. However, I don't think the fences they built really did what they expected. You know, as well as I, that the fences didn't prevent our playing on the other side; we simply learned how to do it so that we looked like we were playing on the right side of the fence. Remember how we used to do it? [I confess that my curiosity was piqued]

Daughter:

Yes...how could I forget? It is true that there were certain places where we could play that had the appearance of staying in the fences, but we were too careless. Higher fences would have prevented that, and the added benefit would be the removal of temptation. Higher and stronger fences help our children learn to stay in the fence. [I couldn't help but resonate with her assertion, but an uneasy nod of approval was all I could muster]

Son:

Why would I want them to learn how to stay in the fences? The danger isn't even close to the fences, and I would rather them learn to recognize and avoid it...

Daughter:

That is simply irresponsible! Children always go over, around, and through the fences, and if you put the fences so close to the danger, they will surely get hurt! [Amen, I thought]

Son:

...give me a chance to finish...don't you see how you are contradicting yourself? All those fences are built on the assumption that children always go over, around, or through fences, and you haven't actually prevented it. All you have done is make it safer, but don't you remember what we discovered about the danger? We seemed to always discover some new and dangerous places inside the fences. Sometimes we got hurt, but we hid the hurt so that dad wouldn't build another fence.

Daughter:

But that is why parents must be increasingly vigilant and keep building fences! We really need to cultivate a relationship with our kids that allows them to be open about the dangers, so that we can build fences to help them avoid the dangers. How is it that you could leave dangerous places unguarded? [Good question, I was really proud of that girl]

Son:

Who said that they were unguarded? We simply have chosen to build windows in the house so that we could keep an eye on the yard. Every danger is in full view, and we spend a lot of time walking and playing with the children. We simply don't have time to build a lot of fences, and it really hasn't been necessary.

Daughter:

But don't your kids get hurt?

Son:

Sometimes, but we are usually nearby. We have chosen to spend the time we used to spend building fences by watching over them, helping when they fall, and instructing them how to see and avoid the dangers. When we lived inside the fences all the time, we didn't learn to recognize the dangers, or we learned the hard way. [He did seem to be making sense, but everybody has fences. It is impossible to go through life without them.]

Daughter:

However, you can't simply get rid of the fences. Every house has fences, and it is impossible to live without them. [That's my girl] We can't possibly be so vigilant as to prevent the kids from every danger, and what happens when you aren't looking? The fences keep them on the right side of the fence when we aren't able to watch.

Son:

But we have already agreed that it didn't prevent us from playing on the other side of the fence. [His frustration was beginning to show]

Daughter:

True, but we could still play safely, even though we went over, around, or through the fence. That is the true genius of dad's fences [heheheh...that was probably a little over the top]; as long as they were far enough away from the danger when they go over, around, or through the fence, they wont be hurt by their actions. [Atta girl]

Son:

But we have already seen that there were dangers both inside and outside the fences, and those dangers increase over time! [hmmmm...]

Daughter:

Exactly...and that is why we must keep building fences. We should never tear them down, and the whole window thing...that seems extraordinarily dangerous. Without high fences, there will be nothing to prevent the children from seeing and going near the dangers. If we build windows in our house, it would only make it easier for them to see where there are weaknesses in the fences. If we put in windows, like you suggest, there would be nothing keeping the children from making a b-line to the danger. [That was a really good point]

Son:

Ok...so higher fences don't prevent danger; more fences don't prevent danger; and no matter where you set the fences, danger is not as far away as you would like. Don't you see the problem? Fences cannot prevent or help to avoid danger! [My discomfort was on the rise, and I simply couldn't stand by and let my son destroy all those fences. I had to interrupt...]

Conclusion:
I told my son that I was disappointed at his position on fences, and it was plain to me that he had clearly fallen into danger himself. He was so affected that he didn't see it. We were grieved, and though he stammered and denied he was in danger, it was clear. For the sake of our other children; we wouldn't be coming back to visit.

I had to build another fence.

Next: Higher and Stronger (Walls and Fences)
Previous: Second Generation Fence Building

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