Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Parents: What are we afraid of?

There are all sorts of parenting styles out there. We all come from different backgrounds, social status and have different lifestyles which all impact the way we parent our kids. One current topic buzzing around right now is "Attachment vs Independence." Until recently, I hadn't really thought about how my parenting was shaping my kids attachment and independence. The reality is, parenting has a HUGE impact on kids’ ability to form attachment with others and also have independence and a true sense of self. We all need both, so it is hard as parents to have this balance. 

In my experience (which is pretty limited) in this parenting gig... I observe a lot of parents. Some parents are those classic "helicopter" parents and they are constantly hovering and protecting their kids. Other parents are so removed from their kids that it literally seems like they are "running wild" and causing chaos. It seems each style of parent is highly critical of the opposite style. Interesting. 

I just read this article The Overprotected Kid written by Hanna Rosin for The Atlantic and she explores the safety of playgrounds. She explores this concept that "kids should face what to them seem like “really dangerous risks” and then conquer them alone. That is what builds self-confidence and courage." I agree with her thoughts here and the challenges these risks bring. I also get pretty nervous thinking about Harrison exploring spaces like "The Land" she references. He would absolutely LOVE a place like that. Why am I fearful of my kids exploring real things? 

When I was pretty young, maybe around second or third grade, I would hop our backyard fence and explore in a canyon with friends. We would be gone for hours. We would check out animal dens, dig in the dirt, play house in little tree clearings and climb mini rock formations. It was wonderful. Looking back it was pretty magical. I was trusted. I had a natural fear of coyotes, snakes and other wild things. I also knew my parents expected me home before dark so I always was. 

Will I let my kids explore the canyon near our house alone? How old is too young? How do I prepare them to be smart in nature? What if something happens? Why am I afraid of them playing in this natural space only shouting distance away from my home? 

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