To Shelter or Not to Shelter.
By My Teenager and... on January 25, 2012
www.myteenagerandtoddler.blogspot.com From my observations, there are two main directions parents take when raising their kids. The first way seems to be the "shelter" approach and the second is the "not shelter" approach. Many times parents believe they must protect their child from any harm... from falling out of a tree (for God's sake don't let a kid climb a tree) and skinning their knee (kids shouldn't run anyways)to getting their feelings hurt in school (because life in general is so passive)or playing with the wrong crowd (because certainly they won't have to decide who is good and bad as adults.)
My philosophy is different. I'm more on the "not shelter" end of the spectrum, with a slight variation. Ever since baby girl was beginning to toddle around the house, I'd make a point to not gasp in fear as she stumbled. You know that sound, right? The sudden intake of air a parent does when their baby takes a face plant. If baby girl falls, I simply say, "Your okay... let's keep playing." She is now the toughest little chick on the playground at day care. Others will skin their knees and begin the melodramatic crying and sudden need to be held and coddled, while baby girl just gets up, brushes herself off and dredges forward to the swing set. She'll look at the cry babies as if they have three heads. Ain't nothin' but a thang! The truth of the matter is this: babies learn to walk by falling. Simple.
That also plays a part in the development of a child later in life. If we shelter our children from everything in the world, then how will they know how to protect themselves and make the right decisions when they are on their own? Here's an example: I had a friend in high school who was very sheltered from everything. She wasn't allowed to listen to any music unless it was pre-approved by her parents. She wasn't allowed to date. She wasn't allowed to go to parties. She sat in her room at night watching the world go by through her window. Then she met me. I was in high school during the 80s and didn't have a cell phone, computer or internet. Instead, we just had fun. We went to the beach about five days a week, we went to parties, we hung out at the mall... we were free-spirited, happy teenagers. When I met my new friend, I put on my best "suck up to the parents" skills and soon won them over. Then, my friend was allowed to run around with me - on occasion - in my '67 VW Bug (affectionately named Moosehead after my favorite beer.) I taught her important skills such as how to sneak into an R-rated movie with a purse full of beer, and how to crash parties with your friends. We laughed until we cried and enjoyed being teenagers. After years of being sheltered, my friend had a hard time adjusting to being an adult once she moved out of her parent's home. This is when trouble can really begin for sheltered kids, because they are not prepared for what the world is really like. In other words, they don't fully develop their common sense - a vital component to self preservation.
The variation to the "not shelter" component of my parenting style is that I always keep a quiet, watchful eye on my kids. Most times, they don't realize it, but I'm always alert and "on call" to swoop in and save the day - but only if I am needed. I don't expose my children to the harsh realities of the world because I want them to be kids. I've heard many parents talk to their children as if they are adults with subjects such as world war, death and destruction. DUDE! Those topics blow! I don't even want to hear about that crap as an adult so why the hell throw that on a kid? However, I do allow my kids to naturally learn about bad things during their day-to-day interactions in life. I believe this helps to develop their common sense and abilities to problem solve and cope.
So, with all of that being said, give your kids a break if you are an over protective parent. Let them spread their wings. Let them breath a little. Let them climb trees and skin their knees. If not, you might just end up with an anti-social, whiny little adult on your hands - and THAT my friend, ain't fun! Just sayin'!