Teachable Moments

This week I came across this post regarding a clergyman who was photographed in the bathtub with his 4 yr old granddaughter….


The photo has sparked a lot of outrage because many view his actions as inappropriate and in line with the actions of a child predator. In listening to his interview, he clearly acknowledges the problem of pedophilia in our society and how what he characterizes as an innocent moment between him and his granddaughter could be viewed as something inappropriate. He further states that while he makes no apologies for allowing his granddaughter to get in the tub with him (both of them were clothed according to him), he certainly wouldn’t condone such a moment being released across the world wide web after the backlash he has experienced.

So what’s my point? Teaching children boundaries is critical to securing their safety. Innocence is often taken because the child didn’t understand the actions of the predator was wrong, they didn’t feel empowered to challenge the advances of the predator, or they didn’t know how to speak up and have their voices heard by those tasked with protecting them. Granted, while one can make the argument that being clothed in a bathtub with grandpa while mom snaps a photo for the old family photo album is nothing more than a tear-jerking moment of innocence, I believe it can create a modicum of confusion in a child’s mind and provide the tiniest opening for a predator to use against a child’s sense of better judgement. For example, if another family member or family friend is aware that a child engages in such play with grandpa, what prohibits them from suggesting that their advances and acts of molestation is nothing more than the same innocent child’s play that occurs with grandpa?

I don’t know the man in this photo, so I’m not going to speculate on whether he is a pedophile or not. What I will say is, neither he, nor his daughter, used the best judgement in this situation.  The child in this particular photo could easily become prey to any number of predators who are craftier and more manipulative that we parents could ever imagine. Not to mention that other children might see this photo and become prey to a predator because they don’t know the little girl and her grandfather were supposedly clothed and the mom was in the room the entire time.

Fun and games have their place, but there must be clearly defined limits to avoid confusion.  One irresponsible act could have a devastating impact on a child’s life and we must all be mindful of that. Pedophilia isn’t a new phenomenon by any stretch, but we, as parents, have more knowledge than ever before.  We must use these teachable moments to let our children know what’s right/wrong, acceptable/unacceptable, appropriate/inappropriate. Our children NEED to know that they have a voice and we will listen to them when they say someone makes them uncomfortable or that someone is doing, saying, or touching them in a way that they dont like. Lets face it, everyone and everything that appears innocent isn’t, and there is a lot of dangerous “innocent fun and games” type behavior involving trusted family members, friends, and authority figures occurring all day, everyday.

Don’t set your child up to become a victim of “presumed innocence.”




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