Protecting vs. Exposing Children

08 Feb

A child who is protected from all controversial ideas is as vulnerable as a child who is protected from every germ. The infection, when it comes- and it will come- may overwhelm the system, be it the immune system or the belief system.”  Jane Smiley

As a woman with two daughters I know what it means to want to be the best mother I can be and how hard that is to do.

I know the feeling of not being sure whether what we are doing is what is really the best for them – which is all we want to do.

I know the feeling of wanting our kids to be happy and not to hurt too much.

I know the feeling of understanding that in order for our kids to be happy, they must be equipped with the right life tools necessary to make that happen.

I know the feeling of being unsure as to whether we are able to provide our kids with those tools.

I know the feeling of making that motherly decision as to what we think is the best for our kids and going all the way with it.

I know the feeling of disappointment when we realize that we may have been wrong.

I know the feeling of trying something else that is not necessarily accepted by societal standards.

I know the feeling of disapproval from friends and family for trying new methods of mothering.

I know the feeling of contentment when my kids finally get me and understand that all I want for them is to be happy…..but in order to be happy they have to take responsibility for themselves and their actions.

Yes……we have some difficult decisions to make as mothers.  The world puts tremendous pressure on us to be “good mothers”.  But doesn’t each child require special attention to each of their unique needs – and aren’t we still trying to figure out our own?

As humans, we are unable to truly know what is the best for another person.  We can only attempt to explore what is best for ourselves by experiencing life.

With that being said, in my opinion, life experience is the most valuable thing we can pass over to our children….and if that means exposing them to things that may not be so pretty and possibly even controversial…..maybe it’s not such a bad idea to reconsider our definition of what a “good” mother is.

Maybe, instead of making all of our kids decisions for them and taking the chance – with their lives – that our decision may be completely wrong…..we should teach our kids how to effectively make their own decisions and allow them to make their own mistakes and pay their own consequences.

In order to succeed you must fail, so that you know what not to do the next time.”
– Anthony D’Angelo –

Other posts you might like:

Life is full of controversy so here is a thought to live by:
Why is life unfair?
Because there’s never going to be a system that is fair to everyone.
Shannon Miller

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6 responses to “Protecting vs. Exposing Children

  1. Cheryl Baumgartner

    February 8, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    It goes beyond just ‘mothering’ our children as a society we are doing our best to overprotect our children turning them into adults with no clue of how to handle adversity.

    Social Promotions? instead of holding a child back a grade and making them earn the advancement to the next level by demonstrating competence we instill in them the idea that it doesn’t matter. We just push them up to the next grade when they haven’t master the skills they should have mastered at their current grade level.

    Anti-bullying laws? Of course no one wants to be bullied but other than extreme cases learning to deal with bullies teaches a valuable life skill in dealing with the fact that everyone will not like you and sometimes you have to deal with that. and to be honest in unless it is an extreme case kids will work it out on their own usually by teaching the bully a lesson when they stand up to them.

    We really need to rethink the damage we are doing to our kids by denying then exposure to the negative things in life. Kids need to learn these skills so they have them when they reach adulthood to deal with the adversity that they will face.

    • Peaceful Controversy

      February 8, 2012 at 5:13 pm

      I never even thought about bullying like that. You have said a good point. Sometimes kids get bullied and need to learn how to deal with it. It is comes down to the same thing…by allowing our kids to blame everyone else and not teach them instead to take responsibility for themselves, this is precisely what clears the way for a victim mentality. Are we doing our kids a favor by creating victims when we accuse the bullies of being the reason are kids are depressed and disfunctional….or should we just let nature take its course and guide our kids with good parental advice that has, hopefully, learned from a lifetime of experience on how to overcome being a victim of bullying – or anything else…
      Great point!

  2. Linda

    February 8, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Parenting starts with a decison to have a child. Once that decision is made, our indiviual lives change. We become responsible for our decision to bring a life into this world and as females we become mother’s by our own choice,

    We begin this process as a vessel which gives birth to a human being and often we do not have a clue as to how to raise that human being other than what we are taught by our own parents or what we learn from society. So our parenting is based upon these two things, in addition to our own personal limitations. Unfortunately, sometimes we are not equipped with the necessary resources a child of ours may need (because after all we do chose our friends, but not our family) and although most parent intentions are always meant to be good, a parent does not always meet their child’s expectations and the child can wind up resenting the parent. So the question becomes what makes successful parenting, since we can not control the outcome.

    Some people think success is measured in amount of money their child earns, others think success is measured as to how happy their child is, or what a great athelete their child is, or how good a body their child has, or how popular their child is, or all of the above, in addition, to a million other things. Therefore what may be success to one person may be failure to another, however, I think we can all agree, that there are some neccessary things a parent should so that we can have a successful society and therefore become a successful parent by contributing a decent person to this world.

    As humans, we truly do know some of the things that are best for another person. And if we only know what is best for ourselves, we are missing some very important basics.

    Life experience does not have to teach us that jail is not best for anyone, although it sometimes happens, we still know it is not best. It may be necessary because of the choices made; however, as a parent, we try to limit the possibility of that happening by teaching our children decent values. We know that sickness is not best for our children, even though sometimes they are sick despite our best efforts, therefore we try to provide shelter for them from the outside elements. We know that hunger is not best for our children, so we try to nourish them as best we can. And that is how we show love, which is also something that is best for our children. We do as humans know that this is best for our children. BASICS, we try to provide the basic’s.

    And how long are we going to take to figure out our own needs, when we have made a decison to bring a life to this world by having a child and that might mean bypassing some of our owns needs, and not trying to figure out what they are.

    • Peaceful Controversy

      February 8, 2012 at 10:43 pm

      I definitely understand your point and, of course, basics are what I was referring to when I said “…we should teach our kids how to effectively make their own decisions“. There is no doubt that if stripped of every other impossible choice that a mother (or father) must make for our children, the basics will always remain as non-negotiable – if doing what is best for our child(ren) is the parent’s true intention.
      And…as far as figuring out our own needs…you are correct when you say that that should not interfere with providing our children with basic life tools….but when I say that we must figure our our own needs what I mean is something much deeper than worrying about “me time”. What I am trying to impart is the idea that though we may think we know what is best for our children, it is really not possible to truly know what is best for another person – no matter who that person is, because, as any fully grown adult knows, what we thought was good for ourselves 10 years ago, we may realize 10 years later that it was the worst thing for us.
      In case anyone reading this post misunderstand me…this post is not to imply that “me time” should come before our children. As you have said, if you have decided to have children, your “me time” will inevitably be very limited….but your child should not detract you from understanding life and purpose of life on a deeper level then “me time” as well as the potential to develop a good line of communication with your children so that your life wisdom may be effectively transferred to them…….you know….those basics that every parent (hopefully) understands that their children need.
      Thanks for visiting and for commenting.


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