Parents, we need to look in the Mirror!
Yesterday my 14 year old was furious! Not just cross but furious. And it was to do with her favourite sport kayaking. I was surprised, she’d had a brilliant time last week not only paddling but also jumping off the jetty with her friends for a swim at the end of the paddle.
She was now furious, why? This week they had all been told that they were only allowed to go in the water if they wore life jackets and there could be no diving and no jumping…
She felt patronized, and babied.
Lets look at this, here is a group of kids ranging from 13-16, they have all passed their swim test (which they have to renew every 6 months), they have qualified and competent instructors with them and now they were told they can’t go in the water without wearing a lifejacket. As an aside, I believe swimming in a life jacket is dangerous anyway but that is beside the point. The fun had all gone! The kids all felt let down and patronized by the adults around them.
Thinking about it, if we take this logic further, we should not let children swim in swimming pools unless they have lifejackets on…
For me this is just another example of the insidious creep of ‘safety in the guise of covering our backsides’. At a previous school, my kids went to a very protected beach for a day trip (this included enclosed swimming net) and were told they were only allowed to go in to the water up to their knees…you should have seen the outrage from my oldest over that one!
I started to get angry at the school, but then I started to think it through.
There is no point getting annoyed at the school nor at the education authorities. They are just responding to the threat of legal action, which has happened in New South Wales when a child got hurt on a school trip. You cannot blame them for not wanted to expose themselves to threat of litigation. So I thought I can get angry at the lawyers, these are the people who are pushing these lawsuits through and then it hit me. Who is really bringing these actions?
It’s us folks! Its us parents who bring them, we may be encouraged by the lawyers but actually we are the ones who bring these lawsuits and as a result all of the rest of the kids become limited in what they can do.
Its us that the politicians and legislators respond to and if they think they will get more votes by wrapping up our children in cotton wool and limiting their experiences.
Risk is part of life, we cannot totally protect our kids from risk, ironically doing so just puts them at a much higher risk. We risk our children by just putting them in the car, it’s a risk letting them go up the stairs at home, it’s a risk going to school, for one poor child it was a risk going to bed, as a truck ran through his house and killed him. Risk is all around us and we have to live with it—more importantly we have to teach our kids how to manage it.
Accepting that life is risky, we actually want our kids to learn how to manage risk, and be able to deal with events as best they can when things do go wrong.—and of course, at times, it will go wrong, Murphy is alive and well. We want them to have confidence in themselves and their skills so they know how to manage adversity, so they are given the best chance of sorting things out and surviving when something goes wrong—that we equip them as adults to manage all the challenging things that life throws at them.
Us, you and I, as parents have to really think about what we want for our kids and what the consequences of our actions really lead to…