This may be a rant.
I am tired of fear-mongering everywhere I turn. So many of the baby books, articles, or podcasts I turn to to learn about pregnancy and newborn-hood are all about the problems and risks. So many people offer advice based on fear (don’t do yoga, don’t eat spicy food, don’t get a microvan, don’t lift that, don’t climb on that, don’t stand). Step-parenting is all fear based (what if their mom sees the kids playing outside without a coat on a 60º day – will I go to jail? if the kids forget to bring something back to their other house because we are trying to teach them to be responsible for their own things – will i get yelled at?).
Even being a regular old person, forget the kids, is fear (terrorists will kill us all, all people of color are to be feared, white men are also to be feared, women you don’t know are probably out to steal your husband or your children, don’t make eye contact, don’t talk to anyone you don’t know, don’t help people because it is probably a trap, don’t walk alone at night, don’t park in parking lots or garages, don’t let your purse out of your sight, lock all your doors…).
I know there are things in the world that are dangerous and to be feared. But I’m tired of being taught to fear everything. And I don’t want any of my children (step-, bio-, those I teach, etc) to grow up being afraid of everything. Which doesn’t mean I want them to get hurt. Quite the opposite.
Fear makes us stuck. We are so concerned with being perfectly safe that we have lost our creativity and ability to make mistakes.
It isn’t easy. When the kids run outside to play, I want to go with them, solve their squabbles, yell “car,” make sure they don’t get grumpy from being too hungry, tell them to pick up their toys so they don’t get ruined or stolen. But that won’t help them learn to solve their own problems, see the actual danger in front of them, recognize their own needs, take care of their own belongings.
They recognize the fear in their parents, teachers, family. I don’t want to be one more grown up telling them what to do to keep them safe. I want to give them space to be themselves. No small task.
This blog, Free Range Kids, helps. I know I’m not the only one.