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There's a very interesting article on MSNBC's website about how did WE survive growing up, without all the warning labels, helmets, precautions that seem to have overshadowed our lives and that of our childrens. One of the people interviewed raises a VERY good point - “We survived those years because we were allowed to live,” said the 47-year-old mortgage industry worker. “Too much effort is spent protecting us from ourselves these days that we don't just go out and live. This is particularly true of children. Who would have thought 30 years ago that it would be necessary to run public service announcements encouraging parents to get their kids outside playing?” I'm not disagreeing with the fact that time/progress has brought about better things and made a lot of us healthier. But in the process, have we actually forgotten how to LIVE? Are we, in the process, also sheltering our children from experiences because of OUR fears in such a manner that they're really missing out on life?”

9 replies so far...

  • I think the fact that media is even more prevalent in our lives has a lot to do with it. Media is in everything now - reporting on the tiniest things and I that in turn is scaring people into handling things differently. For example, the germ issues. I am in no way a germaphobic - I don't like to be shiny clean all the time and I didn't grow up with a perfectly clean and germ free home either and I was and still am a very healthy person. And even though society tells me I should wash my hands after I touch anything or sanitize something before I touch it I don't. You have to develop your immunities somehow and thats by being exposed to the outside world. So I don't sanitize my son every 5 seconds son he doesn't get sick - he's 9 months and has only been sick once with a cold.
    So yes to answer your question - Most people do shelter there children from experiencing life because they are afraid of the "what if" that society has laid at our feet. But its hard to decide when your weighing your options when it comes to your little boy or girl. In this day and age - I'm not going to let my little girl or boy walk to the store or ride their bike by themselves like I use too when I was 11-12 but I am going to let my kids play hide and seek in the front yard or street hockey - just tell them what we were told Watch for Cars and get out of the street when they come your way. These are just a few examples out of the thousands that you could be referring to. Good question - I enjoyed reading all the answers

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mandy on 28th July 2009

  • I can relate to the nanny thing - I cringe when I see Nanny gripping the girls' hands as they slo-o-wly walk down the same hill that I encourage them to freely run up and down. And I hate hearing my daughter say, "no, I can't do that, I'll fall and break my head" about something she did quite ably a week earlier. And yesterday Nanny told me she "sometimes has a problem" when the girls think they can do something "unsafe" and they beg to "do it myself." Although I am very tempted to say something, I do understand that she comes at it from a different angle, so I just try to make up for it on "my time."

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by SKL on 9th July 2009

  • To spacegeek - I think that the nanny and mother in law might be extra cautious because its not their child. I know when I have watched my friends kids I am way more cautious with them that I am with my own son because I don't want them to think I was neglectful or anything. :)

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by oceans mom on 9th July 2009

  • I'm of two minds here. On one hand, there *are* children who didn't grow up due to the lax attitudes of the past. I cannot quote statistics of mortality rates, but I'll bet there are some who can to prove my point.
    So seatbelts, choking hazards, lead-based paint warnings are reasonable IMO.

    OTOH, we have to teach our children what is reasonable in areas of health, consumption, polite behavior, etc. One person's reasonable is not the same as another person's.
    Personally, I think many have gone overboard in the safety zone. I don't mind some bumps and bruises, and let my kids try many things on their own.

    My nanny treats my children very very carefully, as does my mother in law. While I get frustrated by their ultra-cautious attitudes some times, I suppose I'd rather that the bumps and bruises happen "on my watch". So I can appreciate the issue from many perspectives!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by spacegeek on 8th July 2009

  • I'm not sheltering my child because of some b/s fear of safety, but a lot of parents are. Sorry. Bruises, bumps, skinned knees and knocked faces are part of growing up. So is engaging in free-play with kids you don't necessarily know. Parents shelter their kids from everything they shouldn't but have no qualms about exposing them to concepts and ideas that are far beyond their young little grasp of reason. No wonder therapists are making so much money. The world is no more dangerous now than when I was little - it's just advertised more. So what? Let your kid fall. Let him play. Let him be.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Phe on 7th July 2009

  • Oh, I also know a dad who freaks over every minor thing. My son fell back and barely touched his daughter's hand and he became hysterical. She wasn't even crying or hurt in anyway but he insisted that her arm could be broken, etc. He was causing a scene at the park and the girl was absolutely fine, he was actually scaring her with his hysteria. She didn't learn to walk until she was 18 months because he was too afraid to let her try. the first time she actually walked was because I took her hand and stood her up and she just started moving! Neither parent had ever seen her walk before and had no idea she could!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by oceans mom on 7th July 2009

  • I have also gotten some grief from some parents because my son fell over th eholiday weekend and skinned his nose. I don't let him do ridiculously crazy things - like stick his fingers in electrical sockets ro touch the stove - but I'm not going to freak if he falls down and gets a scratch. Our school is having a huge problem right now because there are some parents that have become hysterical that the kids have come home with mosquito bites! I used to get a million of them and my parents didn't freak out and if it was to mosquito-y outside, they'd put repellent on me. But there are a couple of parents who do not want their kids playing outside for the summer because of mosquito bites.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by oceans mom on 7th July 2009

  • I totally and absolutely agree with you. I can remember taking my child to the doctor for her wellness visits, shins black & blue from climbing on the jungle gym (which the schools banned several years ago). I remember her coming in, dirty and covered in mud from playing in the rain. Heck, I just put her in the tub and turned on the shower. Too many parents nowadays are SO AFRAID of letting their children get dirty, for God's sake. I remember wading in the creek near my home and swing on grapevines and climbing trees. My daughter didn't have those experiences, but I tried to make sure she had some so that she'd know she's not a fragile egg.

    That article really struck a chord with me because I see too many over-protective parents whose kids really are so dependent on their parents that they literally don't know how to do things for themselves. And then it really does bleed over into their adult years because a lot of these same kids have no earthly idea of responsiblity because the parents have always done everything for them.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by JKLD on 6th July 2009

  • I know I have gotten a lot of grief over the fact that my kids started getting skinned knees and such when they were 1.5 years old, playing outside and doing real stuff. My argument was that now, they don't have far to fall, but they are learning how to be sure-footed for when they encounter the bigger world. Same reason I don't bother about dirt and germs, routine childhood discomforts (not medicating them), partying way past their bedtime, and experiencing real consequences for misbehavior - and for hard work. I notice that when I take my kids to the park, they have far more freedom to explore than other kids their age - and they are more brave, agile, and logical too. So far, my kids have never worn a band-aid nor seen a doctor other than for routine well-child visits; and they are developmentally advanced. I don't know whether more sheltered kids will have more long-term problems, but I have a good feeling about the way my kids are navigating life.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by SKL on 6th July 2009