Friday, January 18, 2013

Keeping Our Kids Safe, But Letting Them Grow Too

Baby proofing a home is pretty standard when life brings a new child into the family. Whether you are the parents, grandparents, or caregivers, safety becomes an important part of everyday life. We can't prevent every accident and, quite honestly, it may not always be a good idea to do so. After all, that's how we learn a lot about the world around us - by experiencing things that go wrong and by avoiding making those mistakes again.

When my children were young, they were encouraged to stretch, to reach for things that may be just beyond their ability, physically, emotionally, and academically. We did have some failures and accidents, a few broken bones, some stitches, lots of bruises. Thankfully, nothing terribly serious ever happened. As much as I would like to have been able to prevent those pains and tears, lessons were learned - by the accidents themselves and the recovery after. Remembering these times, I found myself completely agreeing with this blog post: Please don't help my kids. She echoed exactly how I felt over the past 26 years and still today.

Parenting is complicated and many of us struggle with our decisions, wondering if we are making the right ones, worrying that we made the wrong ones. I have regrets over some of choices I made over the years, wishing I could turn back the clock and redo them. It's funny how we often remember the ones we regret over the good ones. We can only hope that they balance themselves out and that our children become the strong and loving adults we wanted them to be.

But having said all that, we do also have a duty to try to keep our children as safe as realistically possible from accidents that can cause serious injury or death. Baby or child proofing a home makes sense. While I never believed in locking absolutely everything and wrapping my children in bubble wrap, I did keep poisons out of reach, put gates on stairs, and I took the common sense precautions. The one thing I didn't do and now realize how lucky we were, was fasten tall or heavy furniture to the walls. It wasn't on my radar to do that and after reading about a three-year-old who died after a dresser fell on her, I realize that this is one of the child-proofing tasks that really should be on the top of the to-do list. When I am a grandparent, this will be done.

I mentioned this accident in a piece I wrote for SheKnows Canada, Tips for keeping children safe at home. Whether you are a parent, a grandparent, or a friend of someone who has young children who come to visit, it may be worth reading it.

Life is full of adventure, full of opportunities for our children - we just need to balance the risks to help them reach their potential.