Thursday, August 23, 2012

Worldproof Your Baby

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A huge premise of  Free-Range Kids , at least what I take as a premise, is the idea that we shouldn't shelter our children from the world, we should world-proof our children (page xii). 

This really falls in line with my core belief about raising children--we are raising them to be able to leave us and be independent. A smaller version of this idea I have blogged about is: 

"Child-Proofing vs. House-Proofing." You can see similar ideas also in "Purposes of Parenting."


As Skenazy says, "Helping kids? Good. Doing everything for kids? Bad" (page xiii). She encourages parents to be "...preparing their kids for the world, instead of sheltering them from it" (page xvii). 

The hard question to answer is when and how to do these things. Skenazy allowed her 9 year old son to ride the subway alone in New York City--an action that had people from all over shouting their opinions on whether or not it was okay. I think most people would agree that yes, at some point this person needs to be able to ride a subway alone. What people do not agree on is what age is appropriate. And you know what? I don't think putting a blanket statement age on it is a fair thing in most circumstances. For more on the topic of shielding kids and when to let go, see Fine Balance of Protecting Children.

Through the course in discussions on this book, we will talk about many different scenarios you can face as a parent. I think our real question, most of the time, will be when is this appropriate, not is it appropriate. Some will be an is; most will be a when. And the answer, I think, will vary greatly from person to person. We all live in very different areas of the world, and we all also have very different life experiences that influence what risks we are willing to take. It definitely leads to interesting discussion :)

7 comments:

yllekelly said...

I totally get this mentality, and I have tried to give my now-17 month old boundaries. But you see, my child is a bit...of a free spirit. She is a natural limit-tester and one who seeks attention. I believe in discipline, and when I say NO, I want to mean it. So I have chosen my battles. Our whole house is 95% baby-proofed, while the other 5% is "off limits," meaning she needs to obey. Now that she's getting older, it seems to be easier with that 5%...but she still tests boundaries every now and then. What do you think?

Katie {My Paisley Apron} said...

I feel so torn on this issue, and I think, as you said, it's probably a matter of timing. This is an issue we're carefully considering as we think about whether to homeschool our oldest son or not. I don't want to do it to shelter him, although to a certain extent, kids always need "sheltering" - all people do, in fact. Just not always the same amount at the same time. It's a tough thing to find the appropriate balance on, from day to day and year to year!

Mrs. Madz said...

I could not agree more with this thought: we must prepare our children from the world not protect them from it. I have some friends who wish and act like they live in Disneyland-they don't let their children watch the news, or hear about bad things, or allow them to be exposed to anything tat is negative. What a disservice. My job is to teach my son to follow Christ and to live by his commands and how to deal with negative situations appropriately. I also agree it is more when than if...but how do you know if your being too overbearing? lol...it takes a mighty good friend to point that out!

Unknown said...

Katie,

I'd love to hear your thoughts on homeschooling. We are struggling with the same decision ourselves with our oldest - I find myself concerned about sheltering him too much and not finding enough ways for him to interact with other kids his age.

Plowmanators said...

yllekelly,

It is always wise to adjust things for your child's individual personality. What I would do is make sure things are safe--if your child can't be trusted to not stick something in the outlets, definitely cover them. Do what needs to be done to ensure real safety. After that, I would have things so your child learns to obey limits. But keep it age appropriate.

An example would be that I have never used a baby gate on stairs at all. However, I don't let my children go near the stairs without me until they are old enough to handle it. So even though I don't have a physical barrier there, I make sure they are safe until they can handle it for their age.

Plowmanators said...

Katie I agree that it is such a hard call. It is like my post where I talk about the "wall of waters." And I think it depends on the child AND the school environment. Not all schools are equal. Some are "safer" than others.

Plowmanators said...

And watch for tomorrow's post on homeschooling.

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