A friend shared an interesting article on FB today, "What is Ruining Our Kids" by blogger mothercusser.com. It came at a perfect time...particularly after my ranting post over the crisis of social culture (esp for teens) in America (OK, I know I am sounding a bit dramatic...but this is how our media portrays it)...It reminded me that yes, bad influences and events have always been present in our world, both historically over time and geographically across all nations and cultures. This is not a new reality and it will certainly continue into the future. We need to get over it already. What matters more is how we, as parents, respond to these situations and refer to these negative influences and events as 'teachable moments' to our children (a 'how NOT to behave', if you will)...
This article is a great reminder that we should not respond by further hovering/sheltering our children from the world, but rather allowing them to experience it....allow our children to face such challenges, influences, and situations and ask them what they think, how they would behave, how they should respond....BUT, this is a very tricky balance. We need to give them enough freedom and space to fail, to grow, to learn from mistakes and EXPERIENCES (not only from our lectures). It reminds us that too much sheltering will only inhibit their growth and development. I know this will be WAY easier said than done, particularly as they become teenagers (out past curfew? drinking and driving? I cringe just thinking about it!) The stakes are certainly high, as too much freedom could be equally dangerous.
Additionally, this article points out that children's ability to grow through independence and increased responsibility fosters high self esteem and confidence. This is very much in line with the Montessori philosophy of education (which is one of the things we love most about our current school, Ruffing Montessori). I witness this over and over again, (from potty training to riding bikes to tying shoes) that when we give our children the freedom to try things independently, they grow through trial and error. The lessons learned from mistakes inevitably made along the way yield later successes that boost their confidence. They are so proud when they achieve something, large or small, independently.
As our children grow from toddlers through adolescence into their teenage years, this tightrope balance is sure to only get trickier as the stakes get increasingly higher....perhaps some faith, hope, and prayer (mixed with wine) will get us through ; )