Keeping Our Children Safe or Stifled?

1930's-Todays kids would never be allowed to play like this

When you have kids you worry.  A lot.  It comes with the job and there is no way of avoiding it.  Unfortunately these days I think we may have gone too far in many ways.  We don’t let kids play dodge ball at school anymore…too dangerous.  Today’s children will never experience the wind through their hair while they go full speed down a hill on their bikes.  Helmets.  And I understand why we’ve come up with all of these safety measures. (I agree with the helmets by the way) What parent wants to expose their children to hazards? It’s just that we risk limiting our kid’s ability to explore a wider range of experience by raising them in an overly cautious manner due to our fear that they might get hurt.

Last summer while Tracy and her family visited, my husband decided to let her eleven year old son chop wood…with a real axe.  I was horrified and started to do the song and dance about safety.  They ignored me however, and as I listened to John give instructions and saw the way this smart young boy listened carefully I relaxed some.  And so, while I paced nervously, a good pile of wood was chopped by a young boy who seemed to grow into a young man before my eyes. He literally puffed out with pride at the good work he had done. And later that evening he was taught how to start a proper camp fire with the very wood he had chopped.  He was thrilled.  I was a bit of a wreck but I got over it and now that the axe has been put away I’m glad that he had the experience.

“We seem to think that any item sharper than a golf ball is too sharp for children under the age of 10,” says Gever Tulley.
So, Tulley, founder of something called the Tinkering School, a place where kids build things with power tools, has written a new book called, 50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do. (Number 46 is “Super Glue Your Fingers Together – Experience life without a thumb!)

When we round every corner and eliminate every sharp object, every pokey bit in the world, then the first time that kids come in contact with anything sharp or not made out of round plastic, they’ll hurt themselves with it. So, as the boundaries of what we determine as the safety zone grow ever smaller, we cut off our children from valuable opportunities to learn how to interact with the world around them.

The inspiration for his book began when he wrote a blog post listing six hazards and why kids should be encouraged to dive in:

1. Play with fire
2. Own a pocket knife
3. Throw a spear
4. Deconstruct appliances
5. Break the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
6. Drive a car

Here is some of his discussion on TED:


6 thoughts on “Keeping Our Children Safe or Stifled?

  1. I grew up in a two parent working household. This meant that there was little to no supervision after school when my siblings and I were allowed to roam the streets and parks looking for ways to entertain ourselves. I shudder when I think of the things we got into and the opportunities for disaster we narrowly avoided. That frayed rope swing over the Fraser river that could have snapped at any time, the makeshift raft in the ‘swamp’ that Angela and I captained when we were 10 ~ or the lawn darts that we threw around carelessly in the backyard.

    I wasn’t an overly protective parent at all, I don’t think. I would’ve been nervous about any of them wielding an ax though, because I remember taking a swing with one when I wasn’t supposed to and coming away from the experience with a deep gash in my blue leather Clarkes at age 9. The blade struck in between two of my toes but didn’t break skin. I also almost lost three fingers at age 7 when my cousins and I were harvesting clay (using the ax method) from the nearby vacant lot. I still have a faint scar on my knuckle from that project.

    I’m all for experimenting and freedom and giving kids room to breathe. I just don’t want to watch!

    • Haha that’s funny Jake, not wanting to watch. Scott brought home a bow’n arrow to let Jesse play with in the basement, a REAL one, I brought out cupcakes so Jordan didn’t want to go downstairs with him…lol it’s all doable we just need to think outside the box and it can work out for everyone!! Jesse STILL talks about going to visit Aunty Bonnie and Uncle John because of sharing those things with him, memories that will last him a lifetime for sure. Jordan on the other hand enjoyed him for a completely different reason…he listened and talked to her without being rushed. I grew up a tom boy so I can relate to all of these things, building tree forts and bridges over the back creek, clay bombing each other’s forts and making rafts to float on! We came home tired after a day of playing in the bush. I love this idea of a place kids can go and do these things in a safe and adult supervised environment. Without the adult supervision there are some minor consequences, I got my back slashed with a broken pop bottle by the boy down the street because I crossed the “moat” and didn’t have permission, or when I broke my arm swinging on the monkey bars that were out of the ground and tipped from side to side like a ride at the P.N.E. So again balance is good. PS I LOVE the boobs on the woman in the cartoon !!

  2. I am afraid the kids now a days don’t have the same freedom but its different times out there. I can remember Tracy being upset when I let the kids light candles with REAL matches. Jesse told us the story about John and was very pleased with himself. Jo commented that John would sit a listen to her stories. Sounds like a good man.

  3. I enjoyed this very,very much ! Brought me back to a very long time ago ….. things sure have changed. Ahhhh …. but it was fun !
    We really shouldn’t worry so much. I love the TED stuff !
    And the John Stuff ! He sounds like a great guy !

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