Avoiding Risk is Dangerous

Being a parent is a tough job, and the argument over how much to protect children is making it even tougher. The lead to an article by Jamie Siebrase titled “Turns out, risking too little might be the biggest risk of all,” made me smile. It says that Disney produces movies that open with parental death because they “get it.” “Parents—mothers especially—are a huge hindrance to fun creativity, adventure, exploration, and, well, everything ultimately resulting in personal growth.”

Hovering parents assure that no one touches their child unless they have had their hands sanitized. The children are “…strapped like racketeers to booster seats,” and on and on. The dangers faced by children aren’t new, but we are bombarded with round the clock reports of horrors that have occurred. That makes us want to be “responsible” by assuring our children are always protected. The result is that children don’t have fun and don’t develop the skill involved in taking calculated risks. Wil Richards, a “…former outdoor education professor…” writes that overprotecting children robs them of the opportunity learn and sets them up “…to fail spectacularly in later life.” They don’t learn that they will be required to stand up for themselves.

This is becoming a subject of much discussion and disagreement. Lisa Zamosky published a web article “Free Range Parenting” that describes how a columnist allowed her 9-year-old son ride the New York City subway alone. Her description of the decision led to “…a mix of accolades and accusations from parents everywhere.”

So how much risk should you allow your kid to take? I’m certainly no expert, but I’d guess that’s where life’s lessons learned on the way to becoming an adult come into play. Let them climb the tree but help them make judgments about which limb might break. You also need to be prepared to fend off those who observe your child having fun climbing a tree and accuse you of being an irresponsible parent.

 

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