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Tyler

Love this post.

We had a neighbor two years ago that had a daughter, Jenna, the same age as my then 5-year old son. She wasn't potty trained, didn't walk particularly well, and was unable to speak. I naturally assumed she had some developmental problems and perhaps had special needs. When we went over to their home for the first time, we saw Jenna sitting in a baby's high chair that she completely DWARFED. She drank from a sippy cup and wore a bib to keep her Spaghetti-Os from falling down the front of her shirt. When she wanted something, she pointed her head in the direction of what she wanted and grunted. Her parents rushed to get it without making the slightest attempt at motivating her to communicate. My wife and I were horrified. She was not challenged and therefore had absolutely zero need to grow.

My son on the other hand is an extremely well-spoken and bright little 6-year old. And he's bold! Ever since I can remember we have encouraged him to handle his own business. On occasion we go to McDonalds and he'll score a Happy Meal. If he's not pleased with his "My Pretty Pony" that came in the box, and wants to trade for the Power Ranger, then he's welcome to walk up to the counter and ask the clerk if he can trade. WE WILL NOT DO IT FOR HIM. When he first did it he was timid, almost cried. Now he walks up like he owns the place. And I couldn't be prouder. I think this exact McDonalds situation has bled over into other areas of his life. He'll chat up any adult and has no fear of rejection.

Your claim that it is natural for parents to protect their children is spot on. However, our goal is to protect our children from HARM. Not from failure. We live in a different world, and I won't allow my son to ride his bike alone in the neighborhood. This is not the 70's; It's dangerous in 2008. But not allowing your child to experience failure will bring nothing but pain. Because he WILL fail at some point. And the fall will be hard.

BobG

Great stories, Tyler. Why do you think parents today seem to be more protective than ever?

I agree with you on not letting the kids run free in the neighborhood like I did growing up. But even that I wonder if we are being too protective...weren't the crazies out when we were kids, too? Is 2008 really more dangerous or do we perceive it to be because of the dangers we see on television each night?

Tyler

That's a great question, and the answer is shocking. 1980 was dramatically more dangerous than today, at least according to statistics, http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

That said, I wonder if the decline in all types of crime can be directly linked to our awareness and prevention. I certainly don't think the number of wackos has decreased. I do think we are more equipped to fight them though.

We found out about 4 weeks ago that my son's best friend's father is a convicted child rapist. He was a teacher in a different state and had sex with a 14 year old student. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison, only served 90 days, and is now on probation. He's still be in prison otherwise. On the exterior he is charming, friendly, and seems entirely nonthreatening. There is absolutely ZERO evidence that he would harm a 6 year old boy. However, it'll be a cold day in the bowels of HELL that I let my kids play again at his house without us being present. I don't necessarily look at him or his family (which I love) any differently. I still seek him out in church and we talk all the time. However, as a parent, I feel it is entirely prudent for me to eliminate the slightest possibility of putting him in harm's way. In 1980 (the most violent and criminal year in our country's history) I wouldn't have had Google to read the newspaper articles and court records, or online sex offender registries that map me right to his doorstep.

When it comes to placing kids in danger I don't think we can be too careful. If he wants to ride his bike then WE go for a bike ride. I don't think he's missing out on anything. But with regards to suffocating our children with comforts and conveniences, we're out of control.

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