Educator Janet Gonzalez-Mena uses the following analogy to describe the connection between security and boundaries: Imagine driving over a bridge in the dark. If the bridge has no railings we will drive across it slowly and tentatively. But if we see railings on either side of us, we can drive over the bridge with easy confidence. This is how a child feels in regard to limits in his environment.
The repeated experience of exploring in safe surroundings teaches young children that they are not likely to get hurt, that they can trust their caregivers to keep them safe, and that new experiences are enjoyable.
Spiritual exploration is similar.
Yes, it’s hard, but this is what we do: We allow children room to explore while also providing enough boundaries to keep them safe. We dialogue with them and allow them to ask questions… no matter what kinds of questions those might be.
Attending to things of eternal significance is a wide-open field of exploration for children– one in which they want their caregivers to allow them room to explore while also providing enough boundaries to keep them safe. Their curiosity and desire to explore is revealed by their questions: What happens when people die? Why do bad things happen?
Yet those same questions also reveal a desire for adult engagement in that exploration. That adult engagement provides the safety rails.