“What do you think of this?” a friend asked the other day, directing me to an online article. As soon as I clicked over I knew she didn’t even have to ask.
The headline screamed: Why I Will Never Let My Daughter Ride Her Bike Alone
The author, Estelle Sobel Erasmus, went on to rant about how very dangerous our world is and how “we live in a scary world, which is getting more frightening by the minute.”
What I want to know is this: What planet is this woman walking on?
According to the New York Times, the five things most likely to cause injury to children are:
- Car accidents
- Homicide (generally by someone they know)
- Child abuse
And yet the five things parents worry about the most are:
- School snipers
- Dangerous strangers
Notice how there is no overlap in those two lists?
In fact, many parents specifically ban their children from walking or biking to school and, instead, they drive them in their car. Even though car accidents are the #1 cause of injury to children. Explain that one to me, please.
The NYT goes on to say, “Parents are just bad at risk assessment. We are constantly overestimating rare dangers while underestimating common ones. With worst-case scenarios being thrown our way hourly on TV and the Internet, our sense of proportion and ratio becomes muddled.”
I think that’s the key right there. With 24-hour news coverage, there is a tremendous need for “news.” Such a need, in fact, that they are willing to blow things out of proportion and spread hype to fill the time. One child out of millions is abducted and they make it sound like the predator is outside your door awaiting the moment you turn your back. We’ve lost the ability to sort rational and irrational fears.
And the sad part is that millions of parents fall for it. They hover over their children, “protecting” them, keeping them “safe.” Because the worst thing in the world would be for MY child to go missing.
Estelle went on to say, “Although they say stranger abduction is statistically very rare (accounting for only 18 percent of reported cases) the fact can’t be denied that if it happens to your family the statistic is 100. I repeat. 100.”
She’s absolutely right, but that goes for everything, right?
If you happen to be the one in 8,987,657 who is struck by lightning, it’s 100% for you too.
There were 75 shark bites last year, but if you were one of the 75, your chance was 100.
And here’s another interesting statistic – you’re more likely to get injured by your toilet than be bitten by a shark. There were more than 40,000 toilet related injuries last year. I wonder if she worries every time her child heads to the loo?
If our worry did nothing to harm our children, I wouldn’t worry about the worry at all. Go ahead and worry your fool head off! Bite your nails down to the quick. Wear the carpet out with your pacing. If worrying did nothing, it wouldn’t bother me at all.
But here’s the deal: being overprotective of our children denies them the opportunity to learn and grow. It takes away critical moments of life-changing learning that can, very likely, protect their lives in the future.
It seems to me that too many parents are sacrificing long-term healthiness and happiness for short-term safety. They’re willing to compromise the learning of life lessons that their children will need as adults in order to reduce the risk of injury when they’re children.
Does that make any sense to anybody?
I want my children to live long, happy, healthy lives. I want them to head into adulthood competent and confident. I want them to know what they need to know and have plenty of life experiences to give them wisdom. I don’t want them to be coddled and babied and ignorant.
Estelle concludes, “I hate feeling like this, but until we live in Utopia, it’s the only way I know to keep her safe.”
I can only wish her well.