Be careful! Watch out! Get down from there! Don’t do that, it’s dangerous!
Sometimes I wonder if we are protecting our kids too much. Protecting them from themselves, from the unknown, from our own fears. I mean, how safe can things really be in life? Now, don’t get me wrong. I still want to keep my kids as safe as I can, but there are times when I find myself buying in to other people’s fears.
For example, our parents grew up without having bicycle helmets (heck, I grew up not using a helmet, and I still don’t wear one, even commuting by bike everyday), yet now they’re recommended for every kid. I don’t think it’s wrong to wear one, but I’m not gonna make my kids wear them.
Of course, we still get reprimanded by random strangers about it (who are usually in a car, driving with one hand, cell phone in the other, the radio on, and a drink held between their knees). I want to tell them that 50,000 people die every year in auto-related accidents, and that they should be wearing a helmet while driving (but I don’t). And afterward, I wonder, “Should I have my kids wear a helmet?” After I think about it, I realize that they are putting their fears onto me, and I need to simply follow my fatherly intuition, not a stranger’s opinion.
Here’s another example: Fingers get slammed in doors all the time. My son had to have the tip of his finger sewn back together after a door was closed on it, so I’ve seen the damage and the danger. But I don’t think kids need to wear protective gloves around the house, and I’m not removing the doors of my house so that it won’t ever happen again.
I’m not sure that trying to protect our kids from the unknown works. Things happen. Life is messy. Bodies get hurt.
Having said that, I still buckle the kids in when driving, and I have them look both ways when crossing the street. We feed them good food and make them brush their teeth. And yes, we still say “Be careful!”
I may have blogged myself into a corner here…
I guess my point is that sometimes we need to let kids learn from experience, and that we can’t possibly protect them from everything. If we made all of their decisions for them, they would never learn for themselves.
Do you ever feel as if you’re too protective?