April 15, 2015

“Don’t play with my child!”

“Security is a most seductive thing,” he tells his daughter. “I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the greatest evil there is.” ~ Wrinkle in Time

Free Range Children.

A friend of mine (who is the most wholesome funny kind troublemaking father ever, uncle to several children), just got lectured by a parent for picking up a neighbor’s kid and turning him upside down and giving him a fart kiss or whatever it’s called on his tummy. My friend directly replied to the irate parent: “you’re the parent, you’re in charge, I’ll do as you say. But are you saying there was something sexual about that?” The parent was stunned by the directness and couldn’t say a word. The Helicopter parent in all of us needs to lighten up.

In the ’50s, in America, the average child was sent out of the house in the morning to play in the forest or play ball or whatever–don’t come back ’til dinner! Now, the average child is restricted to 50 feet, on average, from the front door. Google it.

Two years back, the NY Times did an article on how jungle gyms have gotten shorter and shorter, safer and safer (due to lawsuit-happy parents)—and now worse and worse injuries happen, more often. What?! Why? Because children no longer learn to navigate danger and learning step-by-step. They think they’re invincible, having never experienced a manageable degree of modest danger.

Recently, on elephant, we shared a blog about children, and a parent commented that she’d never let her infants be naked in a park or public setting—a stranger might have a camera, and that stranger might be videoing the child for pornographic purposes.

I get it.

But we can be fear-based—and believe corporate media that this is the most dangerous time on earth. Or we can be reality-based—and realize that, generally, this is a safer time for our children than at any time in history.

We can make them safer by never texting when we drive. We can make them safer by feeding our children real, wholesome food—car accidents and obesity and diabetes are real threats.

A few years ago, The Book for Dangerous Boys made the bestseller lists—its call for letting children off the leash riveted an ever-uptightening nation.

Let’s lead by example: and breathe in and out, and lighten up. We can keep our loved ones safe—through awareness, delight, humor…not merely fear. Fear does not truly protect—it constricts.

Relephant Bonus:

These may seem really obvious, but most of us with children aren’t doing this:



Buddhist advice for children who are about to lose their temper + punch someone.


Image: Greg Williams/Flickr 

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