Originally published as a column in The Armchair Mayor News, the new venue for The Way I See It column, on February 14, 2014. 

It was at bedtime that I heard my youngest singing the refrain of a recent Miley Cyrus hit, something that has to do with a wrecking ball. Music likes and dislikes aside, the piece has a questionable video to go with it.

I asked where it came from. Kids in his class he said, some were singing it all day. He is grade 2. It was part of a school concert that he was absent from.

I know that this teen star who has long left innocence behind is merely a product of show biz. Her antics though are admired by many elementary school children, none old enough to fully understand the perils of missing moral values.

I admit to a sinking feeling. That he knew the song, that this song is in the end just a song that will go away but there are so many other things that have the power to take away his innocence and nothing short of keeping him away from the world will allow me to protect him. That other people could open his eyes about things children are better off without knowing.

There is a lot out there our children are not ready for. Think explicit sexual content, horror movies, pornography that should have nothing to do with elementary school children but it does. More than you think.

If you don’t believe me, ask your children or other children you know. If they’re letting you in their world even for a bit, and if you listen, you’ll find dark patches that will bring you to tears.

I said it before, it is not prudishness that causes my frustration, but the realization that no matter how hard I try to keep my sons away from things they are too young and too innocent to understand, someone will peel their eyes open and that can take away the one thing I cannot give back to them: their innocence.

This is not a new topic nowadays. We hear high school students swap inappropriate content pertaining classmates.  We want it addressed. We sincerely believe that the investigation that follows and possible criminal charges – possession and trafficking of child pornography – will teach them a lesson.

Until it happens again. Because it does.

We are told we should talk to our children. We know that and try. We should set a good example. We do, many of us. We should communicate more and better. Learn.

No parent is perfect. I diligently follow my heart when it comes to parenting and diligently own up to my many mistakes, learning a bit more from each of them. I answer questions, I hug, I wipe tears and hug again.

With the topic of sex and all related, I take the straight talk approach though I was raised with a dead silence around the very topic. Children know when you mean well versus just policing.

The sex topic includes pornography. It’s out there, lots of it and it’s never been easier to access. Some people say ‘Not my kid’ and I wish that were true. We have all been that parent at some point.

Before you say ‘Oh come on, what’s the big deal?’ I will ask you this: what is a 10 or 11-year-old going to gain out of watching porn? Or what is a seven-year-old to gain from watching horror movies that he is all too willing to share about with classmates the next day at school.

Nothing. They lose. And we lose with them.

I came to realize that no matter what I do, when my boys are out and about, I have no say in what they see or hear. It is often the roughest, dirtiest, scariest bits that come out that way. Resilience? Hardly a match for today’s challenges.

We are each parenting our own children, or so we should, but we are also parenting other people’s. As soon as my sons leave home to go to school in the morning, the things they learn at home and the examples we set as parents will show.

We’re in it together. It is the proverbial village called upon to raise the children that will do that. The way I see it, I am parenting some of the Kamloops children together with my own and so is every Kamloops parent out there.

Let’s not let our children down. Mine and yours. Ours.