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Dear Sister Sunday

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Dear Sister Sunday,

The post-election ugliness has even invaded my daughter’s Pre-K class at our local Catholic school. My daughter came home one day scared and upset and asked me, “Does Hillary Clinton kill babies?”

I’m pro-life, but I don’t want her at the age of five, to even think about anyone, anywhere, killing babies, so I said, “No, she doesn’t.” She said, “Well, _______ (a little girl in her class) told me her mama said she did.”

The next morning, at drop-off, I casually mentioned to _________’s mother that I hadn’t told my young daughter about the reality of abortion yet. I want her to play and learn and let her father and me do the worrying about grown-up issues. And, frankly, I said, I’d like her to learn about mamas and daddies falling in love and getting married and having babies before learning about abortion.

She got angry and said, “Well, if you want her to grow up and be a little liberal snowflake who needs a safe space whenever something hard is discussed, then go right ahead.”

I wasn’t expecting that reaction, and didn’t know how to respond. What should I have said? Things are awkward at drop off. What should I do going forward?

Signed,

Gobsmacked

classroom

Dear Gobsmacked,

Do you know The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom? It’s the autobiography of the Dutch protestant woman, who, along with her family, ran an underground network in Nazi-occupied Holland that hid Dutch Jews from the authorities. Ten Boom remembers being on a train with her father when she was a little girl. She asked him a question. Her father, in turn, asked Corrie to please get his suitcase from the rack and carry it off the train once they reached the station.

Your five-year old daughter is in Pre-K, not high school. She is a little “snowflake.”

Corrie protested that she was too small to carry such a big case. Her father agreed that, yes, she was too small for such a burden. And then he told her that she was also too small to carry the burden of the answer to her question. It wasn’t a bad question. It was simply a question requiring an answer that would be too much for a small child to handle. Her question, and the answer to her question, could wait. Indeed, it should wait.

Your five-year old daughter is in Pre-K, not high school. She is a little “snowflake.” And she does need, and deserve, safe spaces, that protect her innocence. I hope you are raising her in truth and kindness and courage and a love for Christ. She will need that formation when the time comes for her to participate in the pressing moral, political and economic issues of the day. Your acquaintance is correct that abortion is a serious issue. So is the bombing of Aleppo, but I sincerely hope she is not asking her child to sit and watch videos of the explosions and ensuing death. Gang shootings and opioid overdoses are also serious issues, but I hope she is not talking to her daughter about the small children left untended in their houses by parents high and passed out on the floor. Because a five-year old child can’t do ANYTHING about these situations except worry and wonder if they, too, might be abandoned or blown up, or, God forbid, harmed by their parents. Their helplessness doesn’t make them better informed voters or abler activists or letter writers. They are unable to do any of those things. Their helplessness in the face of such terrors only creates fear.

We want small children to grow up safe and secure in the love of their families and communities. This will give them the confidence to face difficult situations, and to act with strength and charity to reject evil and embrace the Gospel. Think about the day your child was baptized. You and her godparents were asked, on her behalf, if you “reject Satan, and all his works and all his empty promises,” that is, to make a promise she couldn’t yet make. You were asked that question and then tasked to bring her up so that she could someday answer freely for herself.

You did the right thing by shielding your daughter from an unnecessary and premature glimpse of ugliness and evil. Make sure you are always kind to her little friend and charitable toward her mother. You probably won’t change her mind, so don’t engage on hot-button issues. Just be cordial and polite, and keep striving to make the world a safe place for the little ones in your care as long as you are able.

Thanks for writing and God bless,

Sister Sunday

P.S. What will happen to women’s healthcare if Planned Parenthood is defunded? It won’t go away.