Posted by: Genny Colby | September 2, 2010

Something to think about….

This article is written by one of my favorite parenting blogs.  You can find the link on the right side of this page to her blog on FreeRangeKids.  One of these days I will take the time to write about being a free range parent means to me.

But for today, I wanted to share this story.  It is especially timely since I left my little one in our fenced in backyard, on our deserted street, in our quiet neighborhood, while I went around to go in the front door so I could unlock our patio door.  Even last night, we let our little one go out  in the back yard while we finished dinner.  The patio door was open, we could see and hear her and she could easily come in and out the door to get one of us if there was something she needed or wanted to show us.

What is she learning with these experiences?  To me she is learning she is okay if mommy and/or daddy is not always in her direct line of sight, that mommy and daddy always come back, that she is able to amuse herself for a time, and that she does not have to be afraid if she is alone.

As she grows up, we will teach her to NOT to be afraid of strangers, even of men she does not know.  I want her to feel okay talking to people she does not know and to believe that adults are there to help her.  If we get separated while out and about,  I want her not to panic, to find an adult to ask for help.  I don’t want her growing up thinking all adults are out to hurt her and she can’t trust them to help her.  What good will that do?  I firmly believe that percentage wise, the number adults who are kind, generous and helpful are way more numerous than the one who is not.  But then part of my job is also to teach her who to approach and how to ask for help.

As she grows up, we will have the talk about strangers.  What kind of interactions are okay with those you don’t know.  And what to do if someone asks her to do something she is either uncomfortable with, knows is wrong, or knows will get her trouble with mom and dad.  I want her to learn it is okay to smile, say hi, even have a short conversation with someone you don’t know.  And I want her to learn to say NO when someone asks her to help them find their lost dog, or go for a ride or anything else she knows is not right (because we will teach her what is okay and not okay).  And she will learn to run and scream and make a lot of noise if there is a problem.

Could there be a child predator on our quiet little street, in our out of the way little neighborhood?  Sure.  Is it likely?  I don’t think so.  Do I want to keep my daughter safe at all times?  Of course!  I can not imagine a worse event than something happening to her, especially if I could have prevented it.  But am I going to let every “what if” scenario control my choices?  No, I am going to make the best choices I can based on the information provided to me.  And I am going to raise my daughter to be a strong, confident, capable person.

I am not going to assume that the worse will happen, I will just take reasonable action to ensure the safety of my family.  But if we assume that everyone we don’t know is sexual predator, child abductor, or something else equally nefarious, then how do we connect as a society and work as a community?  I don’t want to hide in my house with the doors locked, the windows locked and covered, and the security alarm set to “laser ray” if someone tries to come visit.  I want our house and yard to be full of life…and if our house is the house all the kids end up at (and even the adults), that is great!  I will just stock up on grape Popsicles and keep a stash of Spotted Cow on hand.

http://www.pbs.org/parents/experts/archive/2010/09/is-it-ever-safe-to-leave-your.html#comments

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