The Downside to Over Protecting Our Kids

From Hanna Rosin's Atlantic article about the consequences of over protecting kids:

When you ask parents why they are more protective than their parents were, they might answer that the world is more dangerous than it was when they were growing up. But this isn’t true, or at least not in the way that we think…Maybe the real question is, how did these fears come to have such a hold over us? And what have our children lost—and gained—as we’ve succumbed to them?

This is something I have been thinking about a lot. How do we balance giving them space to learn and fail, while still keeping them safe. We live in a safe neighborhood in Chicago. The elementary school and playground are less than a 5 minute walk.

In theory, I love the idea geography of children's play. A piece of playground equipment can embody so many things at the same time. The same platform can be 5 different rooms in the same spaceship depending on how you got there. As a kid, I would map endless lands onto the small woods behind my house and the little creek that ran through it.

I love this quote from Rosin's article:

When they are left alone and can take full responsibility for their actions, and the consequences of their decisions, it’s a thrilling experience.

How amazing is that? The same is true for adults. I am a terrible cook. But this past weekend, I fried bacon and made pretty good scrambled eggs. It was exciting. I was genuinely proud of myself.

I see the boys, at 22 and 8 months, get excited when then figure out how to do something new. I want that to keep happening. I want them to get lost on the subway and be able to figure out how to get home by themselves. I can't wait to hear his about the strange people met along the way. If my wife did it without hesitation in NYC fifteen-odd years ago, then why would we stop our children from learning that they too can navigate their world?

Additional reading: Check out this excerpt from danah boyd's book It's Complicated.