One of the worst things that has been done to children over the past generation or two has been insulating them from anything that could possibly have any danger attached. Parents keeping their children under permanent watch has become “what people do.” And it’s a BIG mistake.
I know why the parents have done this, of course – we live in a fear-based culture, and it has rubbed off on them. But the reason they have caved in to fear is not important – what matters is that they have harmed their children.
Children – at some point in their upbringing – need to confront danger; they need to explore; they need adventures.
At one time, parents knew this. It wasn’t too many years ago when parents let their kids go off into the woods by themselves, with rifles. If that was really so horribly dangerous, half of us wouldn’t be here.
Is it scary to watch your children walk into a subway station? Or out into the woods? You bet it is! But you have to do it anyway. Calculate the risks, pick your times, pick your spots, watch them from a distance if you must, but let them go out and face the world.
Remember, fear is merely an impulse, and it can be based on lies, distortions, or even on nothing at all. It’s a crazy thing on which to base your children’s lives.
A new German study shows clearly that adventure shapes the individual. As one of the researchers concluded, “Living our lives makes us who we are.” Your children need to live, and not merely exist inside of a fear-inspired bubble. The study also indicates that exploration and adventure not only affect personality development, but also brain growth.
I’m not alone in this opinion, of course. Here are two quotes from John Taylor Gatto, a home school advocate and one of the finest teachers of modern times (one of the most awarded too, ironically enough):
Sensible children do not wish to be incomplete human beings. And so, when you impose a stage theory of human development upon them, you are, in effect, tormenting them; you’re limiting their opportunity… Don’t be your kid’s enemy, because that’s not a kid, that’s your fellow human being. Be a partner, and enlarge their opportunities.
The easiest way to turn your kids into geniuses, by the time they’re seven, is just to front-load huge amounts of experience, including dangerous experience.