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Stranger

Teaching my kids about Stranger Danger is an interesting concept...they don't understand what - or who - a stranger is.  Just seeking out Merriam-Webster's definition (someone who you have not met before or do not know) doesn't work with Stranger Danger.  Because, as is Murphy's Laws for Moms, I tell my kids that someone is a stranger - we do not know them - and they immediately decide to get to know them.  They ask them questions.  We find out their name, their age, what they do for a living and, occasionally, where they live. 

It's amazing how much information children can get out of complete strangers!

But, the fact of the matter is, these people are still strangers.  We still don't know them.  They may very well be good people, but they are STILL strangers.


I tend to use errands as learning experiences for my children (that is, when I have the energy to take my kids on my errands).  We will walk through the store and talk about the people we see and don't know.  Yes, we may very well be talking about them when they are only a few feet from us and they can hear us.  I don't so much mind that they know we're talking about them because it's for my own children's safety that I educate them on who are strangers.  But, my children turn the lesson back on me when they make friends with these same strangers. 

So, I have to say a HUGE thank you to the man we ran into the other day while sitting down to eat our lunch.  Yes, you sat right next to us and overheard many of our conversations.  You even engaged in polite conversation with us.  It was a pleasant dining experience for us as I hope it also was for you.  Yet, when my children asked your name, you ever-so-kindly declined to give them this information.  And, for this, I THANK YOU.  You helped me to instill a lesson in my children that they cannot become friends with everyone around them - that it's not always appropriate for them to know everyone they see.  That, while they are extremely outgoing children, they need to understand the personal boundaries that naturally exist between strangers and friends.

I recognize that this kind man was probably no danger to my children - as are the numerous other strangers we meet on a daily basis.  However, I also recognize (with every newscast and Amber alert) that there are dangers out there in the world and my children cannot assume that, just by knowing someone's name, they are safe.  Nor can I allow them to attempt to make friends with every person they encounter. 

There is a difference between stranger and friend that goes beyond simply knowing a few facts about someone.  So, it's become my new Mama Rule to educate my children on what truly is a stranger.

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