Wednesday, March 07, 2007

To Bubble Wrap Or Not To Bubble Wrap - Mar 7

I'm back! I haven't posted in a few weeks. Time seems to slip away so quickly some weeks. I was watching an interesting program on CTS last week and it really made me think. It was about how we 'bubble wrap' our kids. The man was comparing how we lived as kids to how we let our kids live now. Children simply aren't allowed to take the risks we did as children - and for the record, I just turned 32, so we're not talking all that long ago. He said that this is one of the reasons that children are experimenting with drugs and other dangerous activities as teens. They want to feel that sense of adventure, the rush of adrenaline that they were sheltered from as children.

I turned off the TV and thought about it. I live in the same house I did as a child. We have 11 acres and a forest behind our house that is in all honesty no more dangerous than it was 25 years ago. When I was 10 - maybe even younger - my younger brother and I would play for hours back there - all alone. We'd climb trees, build forts, catch frogs in the pond, I can even remember getting lost and finding my way home on more than one occasion. We'd walk a quarter mile down the road - alone - to a friend's house. We'd ride our bikes around the sideroads for hours - alone. My brother was once given a pocket knife when he was 9 or 10. He got cut and needed stitches but he learned to treat it carefully after that. There would be bumps and falls and sometimes - in retrospect - dangerous situations, but parents didn't worry unless you weren't home for suppertime. Were they bad, irresponsible parents? No. It was just the way most kids were raised at the time.

Then I had to ask myself why there wasn't a single thing on that list that I would allow my 10 year old to do. Some I could justify. "There are some bad people out there who could abduct my girls if I let them near the road alone. Times are different." Okay, so I convinced myself that kids on roads are less safe. But there's no way my 10 year old would be allowed in my forest for hours without a grown up. Why? The forest is not near the road and is simply NOT more dangerous now than it was 25 years ago. Am I guilty of 'bubble wrapping' my children? Have I doomed them to a future of adventure seeking activities? Where do you draw the line, and what makes you an overprotective parent as compared to an irresponsible parent?

Any one from my generation and before me, I'd love some input. I know God's hand is over them, but He's given me a responsibility too.

Faith Girl


El Grumpo said...

I am more than 50 years old and there is definetely a hugh difference in the way children are treated today versus 40 years ago.
Here is an excerpt from a blogger known as...Fred.
The last sentence pretty well sums it up. This is from his essay "The National Character".
I suspect that the concern about terrorism is just a particular manifestation of a growing obsession with safety. Not too long ago, Americans were a hardy breed—foolhardy at times, but the one comes with the other. Now we see attempts to eliminate all risk everywhere. Cities fill in the deep ends of swimming pools and remove diving boards. We require that bicyclists wear helmets, fear second-hand smoke and the violence that is dodge ball. Warnings abound against going outside without sun block. To anyone who grew up in the Sixties or before, the new fearfulness is incomprehensible.

The explanation I think is the feminization of society, which seems to be inseparable from modernity. The nature of masculinity is to prize freedom over security; of femininity, security over freedom. Add that the American character of today powerfully favors regulation by the group in prefe4rence to individual choice. Note that we do not require that cars be equipped with seat belts and then let individuals decide whether to use them; we enforce their use. The result is compulsory Mommyism, very much a part of today’s America.

Its sad really, we are raising a majority of cowards. People afraid of being uncomfortable and of being hurt.

Anonymous said...

Boy that's a tough one isn't it? I know that if you "overprotect" your young children you're giving them a message that the world is an unsafe place. Then they grow up fearful and mistrusting people around them. Part of me wonders if that is a bad thing but the other part of me tells me it's not good to hide behind walls because of fear. Where do we find the balance? How much do we really believe that our children have Guardian Angels assigned to them? How much do we trust in the leading of the Holy Spirit to tell us where to be exceptionally alert and where to allow the children more freedom to explore their world? Have we become so ruled by fear that we cannot allow our children the joy of building forts in the forest and catching frogs in pickle jars? I don't have an answer for you Faith Girl except that as parents I think we need to be tuned into the voice of Holy Spirit who is our Counselor and Guide. I used to walk frequently in my forest but each time before I entered I would always check with Holy Spirit to see if it was safe. I remember one day I got a strong feeling not to enter which I obeyed without hesitation. Learning to trust in the voice of God is perhaps one of the biggest things that will help us as parents. Once my young son was at the point of falling into the flames of our fireplace when a voice said to me "daughter, see to your child." I rushed into the living room and caught him just as he was falling into the flames. He was completely safe and I wept because God protected my child and called me daughter. I know that doesn't explain the fact that many other children can drown in swimming pools or have other tragic circumstances. All I know is that at that moment God saw that my son was in trouble and told me what to do. How many times I wonder does he talk to parents to warn them but we may be too busy to hear him? Just some ideas to think about... from Warrior Woman

Belinda said...

Faith Girl, I was raised by as overprotective mother (or so I thought at the time. She'd been through the Second World War and was suffering, I realize now, from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. It didn't affect me adversely. I knew that she treasured me and loved me. I wished at the time that my parents had let me go to Beatles Concerts etc. but it didn't kill me that they didn't, and when the time came that I spread my wings, I didn't do it in an unhealthy way.

The bottom line is that we do what is wise to keep our children safe. What they remember is the reason why you did it--the love.

Your question is a really good one though.