Giving freedom to Your Child despite the Dangers of the Outside World

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If I were to ask if you think that the world is now a scary place and a far cry from what we were raised in, would you agree? I can almost see all parents nodding their head in agreement. The incidences of child abuse, bullying, kidnapping, trafficking and many such horrific events are increasing and have instilled fear in our hearts and minds. Many parents don’t allow their kids even the freedom to play outside in parks and in their local colonies because of these dangers. Justified or not – I am unable to comment. I can only tell you that I did go through a phase where I went completely berserk and became highly overprotective of my daughter. I believed she was safer being supervised and constantly under my care and maybe to some extent I was right, but I was ignoring the fact that she also needed her space and freedom to be herself and go out and learn things from her experiences too (and I constantly hoped and still do that they better be good and manageable if not utterly wrong).

As a parent, I am probably biased towards ‘our side’ and continue to maintain that there are dangers lurking and somewhere in my mind, I often wish that there was at least 3 more of me! I have accepted that her need for freedom is a lot greater now and she needs to have that space to organize her ‘world’ – her studies, social problems, and her life as a whole but do I look good enough questions – without my interference, I must say, many times, I don’t. However, I realize I have to hand it to her and believe her that she is capable enough to fend for herself in many situations and tough as it may be, I need to let go and give her the freedom to be. I am not saying at all that I live without fear – it’s there – just can’t suffocate her with it. I have learned, the hard way, to step in only when she needs me but even then I should provide her with guidance and support to choose from the options she has.

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Let’s admit here that while some fears may be real, there are many that are imagined – the what ifs – right? The key, I believe, is in ‘learning’ to understand and separate real issues with the ones only in my mind. This learning will enable me to think more logically and be less of a nervous wreck so often! The one main instance that comes to mind is when she turned 10 and the world was fascinated by one of the famous social media sites. She wanted in and I was paranoid that she would ‘meet’ those dangerous pedophiles that everyone talks about. I couldn’t have been more wrong – not only was she mindful of who she ‘befriended’, she first learned up all there was to know about this site. I was truly impressed – my belief in her and showing her that I respected her freedom, she gave me proof that she was worthy of it. I will share a secret with you – I also then did my ‘homework’ about this site and other aspects of the virtual world – this knowledge put my doubts in perspective and helped me deal better with my own fears.

Okay – so while the knowledge helped me manage my fears, it also provided me with the support and guidance I needed to help her in the future. Having the knowledge and understanding is the best defence against the dangers we speak about. I realized that if my daughter knew the dangers that lurked and I was able to give her some tips on how to recognize them and manage them, she would be better positioned to help herself even if she had no one around.  I asked her in one of our conversations what she would do if some unknown person offered her something to eat. I was surprised when she replied “I will scream my loudest and run away” – heehee! I knew that somewhere she had picked this up because I had given her the leeway to learn rather than being there to teach her everything – which in any case would not be possible.

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While understanding the fears and dangers, it was also extremely imperative that I taught her to be self-confident rather than someone riddled with uncertainties and constant trepidation. My child had to be strong – the best way to deal with known and unknown dangers.

Having said all this, I am not, for a minute, implying that there should be no boundaries and precincts. There may be a time when problems and dangers could be too hard for our children to handle on their own and that’s where we step in to deal with them. However, even while we sort these out and push them away from our children, they must be able to learn and pick up vital tips on dealing with similar situations next time.

I love my daughter – just like each of you love your children and the most crucial part about freedom and dangers is that the children must know that their home is their harbour – the place they can rest and be themselves without any fear.

The love and support our kids receive at home is the biggest contributor to the strength they eventually build to be able to face the dangerous world outside.

 Click here to learn how to help your child become independent.

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