The Huffington Post recently published a story about a lion who tried to eat a little boy at the zoo last week. I dare you to watch this without laughing. Jack, a toddler in a striped hoodie, sits and giggles as the lioness on the other side of the glass tries to eat him for breakfast.
What struck me was how this 600 pound death machine was literally gnawing on the pane to get to Jack, and the kid just sat there and thought it was hilarious. To him, being inches from death was funny. Why? Because he somehow knew he was safe. His parents were there the whole time, making sure nothing happened and encouraging him to have fun. My point is that for children, nothing, including death, is scary until they are taught to fear it.
I saw another video of a different boy at the Colorado Springs Zoo, who was also “attacked” by a lion. He was smiling and enjoying himself until his mother tried to drag him to “safety” away from the glass panels.The kid immediately sensed that something was wrong and hesitated before approaching the cage again. His parents, through trying to keep him safe, had taught him to fear.
This is a problem I see in many families today. We put our children on leashes and tell them not to get too close. We hold them back and teach them to be afraid of everything, all in the name of “protection”. We tell our kids it’s “for their own good”, and while that might be the case, too often is just another way to project our own fears onto our kids.
The real joy, however, comes in watching our sons and daughters grow into the people God created them to be, without fear or preconceived notions of the world. The key is set aside the fear we’ve grown into, step back, and let them play with the lions.