1.16.2009

From the Mouth of a Babe


This morning Abbie came to me and said, "Mommy, [my new friend at the Y] told me that Barack Obama kills babies. I don't believe that because he has two little girls, and he loves them. He doesn't kill babies, does he, Mommy?"

Well, how does one answer a question like that, posed by a six-year old?!

Abbie and Rachel know that Jeff and I do not agree with many of Mr. Obama's political positions. On the other hand, we will watch the inauguration on Tuesday because of its historical significance and will even do a mini-unit study on the topic next week for school. Even more importantly, we've explained how - though we may not like some of Mr. Obama's ideas - we need to respect him and the office of the presidency as one way to show our gratitude for living in a land that offers such freedom. And we pray for Mr. Obama and his family, as any Christian should.

But the girls are too young to even hear about the atrocity of abortion, let alone be told that their new president supports such a thing. So I could not possibly tell Abbie the truth: "Yes, honey, [your friend] is right. While Mr. Obama has not actually killed any babies himself, he believes it's okay to allow other people to do so."

We adults like to live in a world of shading and nuance. So, while a desired child is a "baby," the unwanted is merely a "fetus" or - worse yet - "tissue." And we create arbitrary cutoff dates to assuage our collective guilty conscience – making it okay to take a life before it reaches 12 weeks in-utero...or 20...or until just before the head emerges from the birth canal – despite the fact that the heart beats and the brain waves function just days after conception.

But none of that would make sense to the heart of a child - mine or anyone else's. Any such justification would still mean just one thing to her: Babies are being killed, and the president doesn't try to stop it. In fact, he even says it's okay.

I did not want to put such ugly images into Abbie's tender mind. So I said, "No, Mr. Obama has never personally hurt a child." Which is technically true and seemed to satisfy her for the moment - at least until she runs back to the Y next Wednesday to tell her friend that he is wrong, only to have him debate the point with her. But I didn't tell the whole truth, and that bothers me.

Yes, I "fudge" in other situations - Abbie and Rachel still whole-heartedly believe in Santa, for example - all with the goal of preserving their innocence and enabling them to treasure the joys of childhood. And I believe I followed the best possible course of action in this circumstance for now, for the same reasons.

But it breaks my heart that the idea of killing babies on purpose need even be open to debate. It should be a no-brainer to anyone - whether six or 66 - that such a horror is wrong. Abbie's automatic assumption that her president would never allow something so awful shows us that.

I didn't have the heart to shatter her simple faith in a leader's knowing right from wrong.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gulp!
What a situation! I think you've handled it well.
J

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