When my now almost 5-year old son was only a few weeks old, I somehow discovered the most difficult thing with having children. Letting go. Not abandoning the child, letting go by giving opportunity to explore, experiment, and make mistakes. I realized early on how incredibly important it is not to shelter and suffocate a child which I see increasingly often in today's paranoid filled society. There are supposedly pedophiles, terrorists, kidnappers, and super dangerous toys wherever we look and no child can be left alone for a single second regardless of environment.
Have you ever sent your child to camp? Read New York Times article about crazy and over protective parents, "Dear Parents: Please relax, It's Just Camp" The piece offer a glimpse of just how crazy parents are today. Many camps are forced to employ a professional camp counselor, mostly to respond to the flood of calls from worried parents.
One camp psychologist said she used to spend half her time on parental issues; now it’s 80 percent. Dan Kagan, co-director of Bryn Mawr, has started visiting every new family’s home in the spring and calling those parents on the first or second day of camp to reassure them.
And while the camp schedule once was sacrosanct, parents are now pulling kids out to act in commercials, compete in gymnastics meets or fill choice seats at baseball’s All-Star Game.
Making parents feel comfortable and at ease (yeah right) while kids are away is one thing but most parents seem to have forgotten the whole point of camp. The kids should have fun and do things by themselves, build confidence and solve problems without parents present.
I have parents calling and saying they saw their child in the background of a picture of other children and he didn’t look happy, or his face looked red, has he been putting on enough suntan lotion, or I haven’t seen my child and I have seen a lot of other children, is my child so depressed he doesn’t want to be in a picture,
Is it really impossible for a parent to send a 9-year old away for a couple of days to a professional camp with outstanding reputation without going nuts? It's true that something COULD happen, but that's life. Traffic accidents are the number one killer of children in US, the drive TO camp is probably a hundred times more dangerous than camp itself. Try telling any parent this simple fact.
Learning to let go can be very difficult, I see almost every parent struggle with this seemingly easy task. How does a parent let go but still keep a child relatively safe? It takes practice and also surprisingly some skill. There is so much emotional attachment present it's often tough seeing the big picture.
I WANT to be there and help my kids avoid making mistakes. But I know this is a terrible idea so I force myself not to do it. This does take some practice. How does a parent appear not to care when reality is the total opposite? I've found this to be crucial for the kids to learn independence. They must believe that I will not catch and protect them from every little fall. They must believe they are on their own. Reality is of course that I appear not to care while I'm ready to catch my daughter if she tumbles down the stairs. Funny thing is, it doesn't happen. The kids do unbelievably well if just given the chance.
I constantly see the opposite strategy. To protect kids from anything and everything. Like our friend, the Venezuelan maniac, who won't let her 5-year old daughter leave the house without telling her what not to do. Over and over. How someone can be so incredibly stupid, especially since it's not her first child, is a question for some Nobel Prize winning psychologist.
I have parents calling and saying they saw their child in the background of a picture of other children and he didn’t look happy, or his face looked red, has he been putting on enough suntan lotion, or I haven’t seen my child and I have seen a lot of other children, is my child so depressed he doesn’t want to be in a picture
Fascinating stuff. When we use a baby sitter I do make a courtesy call after the kids are asleep to see if everything is alright. But there is a huge difference between being caring and paranoid. Sadly, most parents have no idea how much damage this paranoid parenting does.
Don't be afraid to let go. Start slow, with simple and completely harmless things, and move on from there. Start early and the rest will be a breeze. Just how bad things are today can be summarized by a single scary sentence from the article. Something we all should think about in our busy and hectic lives
“It used to be the job of parents to expose their children to the outside world; today, it is their job to protect their children from the outside world.”
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