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Raising Risk-Takers

As I shared, my kids learn to water ski this weekend.  It seems normal for my 6-year old son, but a little insane for my 3-year old daughter.  As we were getting my little girl all geared up, my friend said, ‘Are you sure about this?  Is this safe?’.  I love that my friend raised the question.  I was anxious and apprehensive, but I also am trying to balance raising my kids safely with raising them to be overly fearful.  

I am not a risk-taker.   I have grown up afraid of heights, spiders, sharks, snakes, pain and cheap hotels. 😉  I was a picky eater and missed out on some great food until I was older. I have never broken a bone because I didn’t do things that are dangerous enough to cause broken bones (knock on wood).  My friends tease me because I was the only one who wore a life jacket through our whole drunken rafting trip (another story). Interestingly, I have gotten braver as I have gotten older, but now I feel a sense of responsibility to be alive and in one piece for the sake of my children.  So as twisted as this may sound, I would rather have my kids take risks when they’re younger (not 3 of course) and enjoy life to the fullest before they have families of their own.   

So everyday I force myself outside my comfort zone to raise my kids to try new activities, foods and experiences.  I want them to live their lives as they choose, as oppose to the way that will keep my heart beating normal.  Does this mean I am signing the little darlings up for bungee-jumping? Not yet.  But if they ask to take part in an activity that other kids do, I will take all reasonable precautions and tell them to go big.  My son started snow-skiing at 3, with a helmet.  He rides a dirt bike with full pads, helmet and a governor switch for the speed.  He waterskiis, with a life jacket.  And if my daughter wants to do all those things too (she absolutely does!) she can when I can provide a reasonable amount of precautions (aka she can reach the brakes!).   

Did I wake up one day, make this choice and stick to it? No way!  In fact, I  still have room to further push out the old fearful Paige.  My oldest never ate off the floor or had any bruises because I was so careful.  But as he got older, I saw him becoming needlessly fearful of certain things and decided to try to turn it around.  My youngest dare-devil diva is a good test of my boundaries and pushes her brother too.  She proudly displays new bumps and bruises every week.  So I often have to bite my tongue when my son and his friends are wrestling and close my eyes when they jump off the fourth stair.  It’s not easy, but I think I am giving  them the gift of a living a life full of experiences.  I am teaching them how to look at a situation and see if they can make it safe enough.  They may learn some lessons and get some bumps along the way, but then they can choose what to do from there.  

Despite the fact that my friends will tell you I am a safety nut and do not take risks with my children, my views on parenting may not be widely agreed upon.  If you’re one of those people who would rather keep their children away from dirt bikes, boats and rope swings and send them to school in bubble wrap, your opinions are truly welcome here.  Each of us, as parents, has to go on their gut and live within their comfort zone.  

For me, I am not going to keep my children in a bubble, I am going pay my health insurance premium just in case we need stitches or a cast and I am going to tell my kids to try new things (as long as they are not things sold on a street corner).  As they get older I might even tell them it’s okay to jump off the bridge into the lake when no one is looking as long as they wear a life jacket…  

Dressed and ready for school!

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Categories: Parenting Tags: , , , ,
  1. August 10, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Great pic – that’s how I want to send my kids out into the world every day (usually I just hope they aren’t naked). This is an interesting post because I also struggle with being too cautious (remember when we’d disappear for the DAY as kids during the summer?!?). I think a lot of it has to do with each kid’s temperment, but we can do a lot to facilitate some good risk-taking!

    • August 10, 2010 at 2:11 pm

      Thanks Lori! My son was not happy about the picture, but he was a good sport! 😉 This will always be a struggle for me. This morning one of my friends suggested we put our kids in half day ski school (even my 3 year old) this winter so we could ski a half day. My first answer was no, we both laughed because she had read my post, so my answer became, maybe…

  2. August 10, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    I definitely have bubble-wrap leanings, (since I’m also NOT a risk-taker, personally), but I’ve been trying to shift my weight the other way for things within reason. My fear is that if I don’t allow anything, my kids will all eventually rebel, do EVERYTHING, and become stunt artists…

    • August 12, 2010 at 12:03 pm

      Hey…just saw that you were Freshly Pressed! Congrats to you,and hope you’re enjoying the day~…and, Happy Anniversary 🙂

  3. rhiella1expat
    August 12, 2010 at 7:11 am

    very good outlook. It must be hard to find a balance between letting them enjoy themselves and make little mistakes, and wanting to look after them and prevent them even a paper cut but it seems you’re doing really well 🙂

    • August 12, 2010 at 7:34 am

      I don’t know about really well, my mantra comes from The Wizard of Oz – ‘”Don’t look behind the curtain”. I pull it off, but there is a disater hiding behind the scenes! 😉

  4. August 13, 2010 at 3:52 am

    I think this is a great post, I think you’re on the right track here. I also think its good for them to learn about danger and risk taking themselves – learning from mistakes and experience rather than being told not to do something all the time.

    My daughter is only 20 months, and I’m already encouraging her to push the boundaries…but its always I struggle for me, finding and walking the fine line between giving her freedom and keeping her safe from danger.

    My hubby is the other way, if it was up to him, she would be wrapped up in cotton wool. I think now he has seen the results of some of the freedom I give babe, he is begining to relax a bit more and sees the merits of this approach.

    Nice blog, I’m going to sign up to follow.

  1. October 12, 2010 at 8:43 pm

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