Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Rule of "What If" in Parenting...

I have noted of late that there seems to be a certain rule that parents are expected to follow now. It is the rule of "what if..."

Instead of common sense and the ability to understand your own child's limitations we are expected, and most comply, with this rule.

It dictates that no matter how you may see a situation you must be over-cautious and say "what if?"

When I was 12 I began babysitting for neighbourhood families. But...what if something had happened while I was alone? What if something had happened to the children? What if there had been a fire? A bear attack in deepest, darkest Scotland? An airplane crashing on the house? Actually six years on that did happen - who would have thought it? Why the "what if" people.

I earned my pocket-money and really enjoyed the experience and responsibility. But now, you can be severely punished for leaving a child under 16 in charge of a tot. Makes one wonder if the 13 year olds having babies then are not allowed to care for their own children? Out comes the cotton wool because in the land of "what if" children must be molly-coddled until the age where they are old enough to marry and fight for the country. We will throw them out into this world having never experienced time alone in the family house, life as a latch-key kid and the little thrill having your own key and entering an empty house gives a teenager.

Perhaps I am mistaken, I doubt it though. This can only lead to adults unable to care for themselves, unaware of their own aptitude for daily tasks as they hadn't learned from mistakes made earlier.

I was left alone a few times when I was young. The first time was around the age my Hobbits are at now - 9. Was it an act of cruelty by my parents? (My father was walking up to the hospital where my mother worked and I was busy drawing as usual and didn't want to go. I was left in the house, in a quiet village while he walked the mile or so - must have been about 30-40 minutes I was alone. I didn't think anything of it.)

I had friends and family members who would be left alone in the house while their parents went out of a Friday evening to the local worker's clubs. Was that cruelty, neglect?

It is something I believe strongly about as I dislike being told how to raise my own children. They aren't left alone but there will come a time where that is necessary and I do think they are more than aware of the dangerous that may or may not happen. They go out to play in the area, should I shackle them to the back step so they go no further? I don't hover over them at every opportunity yet I am perfectly attuned to where they are and who they are with and most of all I trust them. Children need a certain amount of freedom in order to grow.

If we lived our lives constantly on "what if" the stress would kill us. We wouldn't leave our beds in the morning, in fact we wouldn't go into our beds just in case, you know, all the things that can happen to you when you are asleep.

It can be a wicked world we raise our children in but even Red Riding Hood's mother allowed her to traverse the forest full of wolves...oh wait, maybe that isn't such a good example. Or maybe it is.

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