“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
"Safety First," I've heard that phrase a million times, but usually not in my house. My kids have both said it to me, but not more than a couple of times. Undoubtedly they heard it in school or perhaps someone on TV said it. Safety is, generally speaking, good, but it is not first or second or third. I'm not the only one who thinks this, I'm not some nutcase on the fringe of society saying dumb and stupid things, at least not in this case.
The New York Times recently reported that in Britain some are beginning to put objects in playgrounds that might be considered by some to be dangerous. In these playgrounds you might find a variety of tools like saws and knives. Now certainly these things aren't used without supervision by adults, but they are available nonetheless. You might also find mud, bricks, 2x4s, and other such things. The reasoning is simple, kids have been protected so much that they don't understand risk. Maturity in decision making requires a risk benefit analysis, but how can you make those kinds of analysis without some kind of experience.
The reality is that kids might get hurt once and a while, but there are a lot of lessons to be learned from failures and the consequences of those failures. Cuts, scrapes, and bruises are a good and necessary part of childhood. To deprive children of those things is to deprive them of toughness, resilience, and common sense. I am thankful for my daughters experience of falling of a horse and fracturing five ribs and a bone in her back. She learned what it was to get hurt, what it was to live through it, and what it was to get back on the horse again (literally). Cuts, bruises, scrapes and even broken bones all cary with them important lessons.
It's not just Britain that is making these observations, watch this video from PragerU
It is not true that safety leads to happiness. Quite often the opposite is true. Learning how to accept appropriate risk for the sake of the right kind of benefit leads not only to common sense, wisdom, and discernment, it often leads to happiness.
No parent is perfect and upon reflection there are probably many things I would do a little different. While I haven't necessarily been over protective, I would probably find ways to expose my kids to more appropriate risk if I had to do it all over again. Perhaps we, as a society, can begin to allow a little more risk for our kids.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.