Take a Hike – Acts of Resistance in a So-Called “Increasingly Violent” World

There is still peace in the world, but it's not on your iphone.


Is it possible to mourn a tragedy, fight for gun control and mental health access, and manage our own fears and terror without concluding the world is a dangerous place and passing that fear on to our kids?  Yes.  And as parents, we have no choice.  We have to find that balance.  Otherwise, we are the ones creating that terrible, dangerous world.  Our kids are looking to us to understand what is dangerous and what isn’t, and to teach them to determine when to take risks and when to be cautious.  If we teach them that the world is full of evil people seeking to harm them, we are not only giving them false information, we are robbing them of a full life.

A horrific, unfathomable tragedy occurred in Newtown, Connecticut this month.  For me, when those children go through my mind, they all have the faces of my precious twins.   My maternal instinct tells me to lock the doors, close the shades, batten down the hatches, and teach my children to be afraid.  That is the world we live in, right?  Don’t talk to strangers, stay inside, don’t touch that, you can’t go in there, you never know, use hand sanitizer, abstinence only, better safe than sorry.

I can’t say how frequently I hear parents musing longingly about how they used to play outside all day from morning until night, left to their own devices to manage relationships with other kids, explore, solve problems, and make their own fun without parental supervision.  When I hear these things I’m always puzzled.  If these parents know how good this was for them, why don’t they let their children do the same?  But before I can even respond, I hear the inevitable, “But this is a different world… you just can’t do that anymore.”   Where did we get this idea, and who is benefitting from it?  Certainly not our kids.

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Learning to be Unimportant – My Tribute to Imperfect Parents Raising Average, Unremarkable Kids

A parent's hardest job is watching your kid struggle and not intervening.

“Wow… good for you!”  our family doctor said, looking shocked.  I was taken aback.  I hadn’t actually done anything.  My little J had been doing his usual climbling in the doctor’s office and his body was all twisted up as he tried to make his way down off a chair.  My instinct was to move in and catch him before he fell.  Better safe than sorry.  But instead, I took a deep breath, and told myself, “He’s got this.”  This simple check on myself is something I do one hundred times a day.

The doctor went on to congratulate me on not intervening with J.  He told me how rare it is that he sees a parent let her child take a risk like that without stepping in.  He said seeing a child in action helps him evaluate the child’s motor skills, something he used to do all the time earlier in his career, before parents began to monitor their kids’ every move.  I had come to a conclusion that my kids needed the experience of mastery that comes from trying things and realizing you have a capability you didn’t know you had.  I also knew my kids would fail.  I figured they would need to learn their own limits, rather than assume I knew their limits, and take those on as their own.  I had been down that road with my parents, and subsequently spent my twenties figuring out what I really could and couldn’t do.

A few months ago we were on the playground.  J walked over to the edge of the jungle gym.  I was right behind him.  I had that urge to move him away from the edge, but I reminded myself that neither he nor O have ever jumped off.  J proceeded to jump off.  It was a good number of feet down, and he was pretty shaken up, although not hurt.  I did a lot of soul-searching that day.  I was standing right there.  I should have stopped that from happening!  But the more I thought about it, the more I thought about all the amazing things my kids had learned they could do on that playground without getting hurt.  To prevent that one fall, I would have had to deny them all those experiences.

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