“Stay[ing] Safe”

"A Beautiful Place of the World"

We all want our children to be safe, right? Of course we do. In fact, this simple drive is so much a part of being a parent that most of us wouldn’t even think about it before jumping in front of a train to protect our little ones. And, as it turns out, most of us are so interested in keeping our children safe that we are even willing to endanger them to do it. Sound crazy? I agree.

Now, contrary to the tenor of that last statement, I don’t think I have ever actually met a parent who is intentionally attempting to put his child in harm’s way in order to play the hero and save the kid at the last second… But many parents I meet unintentionally edge their children toward more dangerous situations by the manner in which they approach keeping them safe. And nearly all of…

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About Nathan M McTague, CPCC, CPDPE

I am a full-time parent of three, Writer, Life Coach, Lecturer, Parenting Mentor, and Shamanic Practitioner. In all of the above, I am seeking to assist my fellow humans in their processes of claiming and unleashing their highest potentials.
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3 Responses to “Stay[ing] Safe”

  1. hakea says:

    Hi Nathan

    I was thinking about this topic the other day. I had the typical 70’s childhood. From about the age of 5 we disappeared after breakfast and turned up for dinner. Our folks had no idea where we were. We were running in the bush, riding bikes in the streets, and playing in stormwater drains. I don’t recall ever being taught how to cross the road despite living on a busy road. But somehow we managed to survive.

    I’m not a helicopter parent, but I am cautious. Many of the parents (of my age) that I meet tell much the same story – a free and easy childhood and now they are protective parents. I do wonder what has changed.

    You’ve outlined a very sound approach.

    • Hiya Narelle,

      I also was thinking recently about how less supervised we were as kids. I was telling my girls a story of a day-long Stand by Me type adventure we had when I was a kid, wandering through the woods near my house, beyond them to some clay formations where teens and twenty-somethings rode motor-cross, to an old grave yard, and back, without any parental guidance or even knowledge, when I was around 9. I don’t think I’d let my 9 year-old go from our house five blocks to the river without a parent or guardian, much less be gone all day without knowing where the heck she is…! Natalie and I tell ourselves that ours were “more innocent times” and that our parents were even more left to their own devices (even more “[not] seen and not heard”) than we were, and that the world is a different place now, etc. etc.. But is that really it? I’m not so sure now.

      Reading your comment, I feel equally perplexed by this phenomenon. To be honest, and not at all judgmental, about it — I generally tend to think that my parents didn’t really know much about what they were doing. No offense, and I love them very much, but they just didn’t have much access to a broad spectrum of information, they were instructed not to listen to their intuitions, and they were misguided by the convention(s) that they were raised with and surrounded by, so other than their steadfast love, I don’t think of them as being the best role models for best practices in parenting. This makes me pretty reluctant to say that, “Maybe they had this one more right than us…” but maybe they did. I have trouble imagining it, though — did they make a safer world for us by not being as tuned into the possible dangers, were we more capable than we’ve let our kids be, was there less to be endangered by, did we get more hurt than we’d want to let our kids get — how/why was it so different?

      I do tend at least a little more toward helicopter parenting — especially with the younger ones — I think. I really don’t consider myself a worrier or anything, and I usually have no trouble trusting in everything working out just fine, but I also like to be the one watching out for my wees so that they don’t have to be responsible for more than is their share or before they are ready. Like I say in the post, I am keeping them safe before they are able. At the same time, I do find myself more and more able to “hang back” and let my girls explore “on their own” (with me in the wings) than other parents I see, who seem to be on prison guard duty and charged with thwarting every impulse their children have.

      Like all of it, we are balancing, eh? Lean, adjust, reassess, lean, adjust, reassess… My sincere hope, though, is that we are closer to an optimum balance than those who came before us — that our kids have it better, even if we lament some of the differences between our world growing up and theirs.

      Thanks again for writing in, Narelle.

      Be well.

      • hakea says:

        Beautifully put Nathan. I think we were more capable than we have let our children become. But then I look at my now 7 year old who last year put himself in danger several times on the road when I relaxed a bit and let him go a bit further out.

        As Phil Nunn (Australian psychologist) says, parenting is like having a rope around your waist. You need to know when to let it out and when to reel it in. It’s tricky finding the balance.

        My eldest calls me the “bubble-wrap mum” but at 11 he’s tugging at the rope. I tell him that I have to be happy with the decisions I make because don’t want to live with the regret if something goes horribly wrong. So, we work together on a plan balancing his need for more responsibility (and fun!) and my need to work out contingencies for risk.

        Many of the parents I work with who have adolescents, aren’t so worried about their teens going out to nightclubs and taking drugs. They are worried that their kids are sitting in front of screens all the time, and showing signs of depression.


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