Bubble Wrapped Your Kids

This past weekend I painted my daughters room. I washed the walls, scrubbed and rinsed, painted all four walls… twice, only to find out that the colour was enough to set my nerve endings on fire! You’d have thought I’d have figured that out before I finished all the walls but I’m obviously colour challenged. So, I started again, this time with a new pot in a more subdued tone, one that had been duly sanctioned by my daughter. Terrific! However, as I waved my brush back and forth and listened to the radio, I caught a program that so mesmerized me that I failed to notice the paint leaving the end of my brush and heading for the carpet. As if I didn’t have enough cleaning up to do! I digress. The man being interviewed and forgive me, I forget his name, was talking about kids and how different it was to grow up today instead of what he described as the ‘good old days.’

Now depending on how old you are, those good old days will probably vary but what he was trying to get at was the difference in the way we lived back then and the freedom that we had as kids. He reminisced about his own childhood, leaving early in the morning, coming back briefly for lunch and then disappearing again, lost in a world of imagination. I had similar wonderful experiences, treading the back lanes of our village, traversing rivers, climbing trees and my all together favourite, spying on a house I was convinced contained a group of art thieves. Ok, so my imagination obviously wasn’t suffering but there are many kids today whose are and who are far too tied to the game boy or Barbie computer game than is good for them.

I don’t care what anyone says. These products kill imagination. They’re OK in small doses but rely on them and your child’s imagination will die off like a plant denied water. It’s the same for TV. I used to build forts in forests. Kids are now lucky if they can venture outside their own yard without mom and dad in tow looking out for their best interests.

There is a risk of letting kids explore. Nothing in this world comes without risk but I would far rather have my children experience life than grow up contained in a plastic bubble. The media has unfortunately helped to create a generation of parents terrified to let their children take mang xop hoi risks because of the perceived dangers of the world outside their door. They can’t climb trees because they might fall, they can’t venture to the local park because they might be abducted. If you give too much credence to the these ‘might happens’ they start to drive the way you behave as a parent. They make you scared and wary of the world around you. Then the games that offer safety become so much more appealing. There is after all, little risk in the electronic world of Game Boy and Barbie. Hesitate too long and that’s all both you and they will ever know.

There is much to be gained from allowing your children to fully experience their environment. Parenting well doesn’t mean throwing all caution to the wind but it does mean evaluating activities on the basis of real risk versus perceived fear. As hard as it is, it is vital to let your kids dip their toes in to the world around them and learn the skills necessary to thrive as independent adults. Let them build forts, climb trees and scrape their knees. Teach them to trust their own instincts and evaluate their own risks and then stand back. It’s not easy but they will be forever grateful.



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