Thursday, 9 February 2012

Not Sponsored by the Safety Patrol

When my kids were small, I didn't baby proof.  I thought it was a lot safer to teach them how to go up and down the stairs safely instead of blocking their access to the stairs.

Now that they are a little older, I apply the same philosophy to a different skill set.  I would rather they learn how to do things safely than prevent them from doing things at all.  You know that I let them have facebook accounts.  I let them watch movies.  I let them talk to strangers.

HUH? Talk to strangers?

Yes.  I think talking to strangers can be rewarding when done safely.  Hell, I met my husband in a bar.

My kids are not allowed to get into anyone's car without calling me first.  They are not allowed to go to anyone's house without calling me first.

But are they allowed to chat up complete strangers on the bus? Sure.

Let's watch and see what happened Tuesday morning on the 63.

12 year old B took the bus to school.

Saw a guy wearing a hat with the Google logo.

Asked the guy where he got it.  Guy said he works for Google.  He develops the software for the safe-browsing list.

B asked him for his autograph.

Google guy pulled out his business card.  B said cool, but can you sign it.  Google guy said he's never given his autograph before but sure.

As B was leaving the bus, Google guy says Hey Kid, and hands him a red Google pen.

This made B's day.  He was so excited and happy that he got to meet an actual computer programmer from actual Google.

Would he have had the courage and the confidence to approach this guy had he not been casually chatting with people for years? Absolutely not.

Did he handle it safely? Yes.  He was in a public place, he was with his friends, and he didn't give the guy any personal information.

He was empowered by his ability to go out into the world and meet an interesting person.

I am so proud.

So what's the complaint?

My complaint is that people think they are protecting their children from risk by not allowing them to do things like go down the stairs, take the bus, talk to strangers.

In my opinion it's a risk either way.

If you let your children have some freedom, you are taking the risk that they may fall down the stairs.

If you don't teach them how to negotiate the universe on their own I think you are taking several risks: that when they finally do have some freedom they won't know how to use it wisely and one very late night in 2017 you will see them on Girls Gone Wild, that they will constantly look to you for protection and will be afraid of the world; or that they will lead a boring life never meeting anyone who hasn't been hand-picked, vetted and sanitized by HQ.

To me, the choice is clear.


  1. Helicopter or over protective parents think they're doing their kids a favour. Hell no.
    When my son was 5 I noticed that he had bruises all along his shin on both legs. We had been to the park the day before and he had a blast on the monkey bars. We went to the pediatrician that same day and I hastened to say that we had been at the park and that we were not abusing the child. He laughed and said that this is type of bruising is a positive sign that he looks for. It means the child is allowed to be a child. I learned a good lesson. There were many bruises. All healed now and I have an independent adult who can find his way in the world.

  2. I disagree with you. I think all the kids should have the right to have no rights. Just joking. This is one of of my favorite blogs of yours. You really make a point and I hope a lot of overprotective parents read this.

  3. ok, your last commenter, priceless! Especially since you are still training people to comment on here. For the record, I'm aiming for September as my walk-to-school-on-your-own date. the 7 y.o. will be in charge of the 9 y.o.

  4. V thats a great comment, i always say i have 3 years till my 4 years till my 8yr old can babysit, forget my 9 yr old.. you have to know your kids also some just have the street smarts.
    as for the blog message its hard to let go, and then if something goes wrong to live with the guilt that you didnt offer protection needed. i know we cant control the world but i am often caught in that internal battle.