Sheltering our kids…..good or bad?

As I said a couple of posts ago (here), I have been accused of sheltering my children. I have had some comments about that since that post and it set me thinking…why does the word ‘shelter’ have such negative connotations when it comes to child-raising?

shelter |ˈ sh eltər| noun ~ a place giving temporary protection from bad weather or danger.

I see it like this.

I am sheltering my children – giving them temporary protection from danger – until they are able to cope with that danger themselves.

If you think about it in terms of a physical danger, say, a storm, for instance. I would drive them to safety, make sure they were out of the wind and the rain, not in danger of being struck by lightening and keep them calm and encourage them to be brave until the storm passed. I would not deny there is a storm outside. We would talk about the dangers of the storm. We would talk about what can happen if we are not aware of storms and the damage they can do. We might even talk about people we know who didn’t take notice of the signs of a storm coming and found themselves exposed and in danger when it hit.

So with my children and the ‘dangers’ in the world, I am merely doing the same thing.

Sheltering our children does not mean that we are not educating them or denying them knowledge of the world and all that’s in it, good and bad. Sheltering is simply protecting our children until it’s ‘safe’ for them to go out into the world.

Allowing our children to walk out the front door in the middle of a thunderstorm would not be responsible, nor do I think any parents would allow it. So why do parents, not only allow their children to walk out the door, but often leave it open and give them a big push through it, far before they are equipped and ready to deal with what’s out there?

I am proud to say I shelter my children, that I protect them from dangers they are too young for and not yet ready to handle.

I kinda thought that was what a parent did.

13 thoughts on “Sheltering our kids…..good or bad?

  1. You make good points. Yes, I would keep my babies out of the storm and try to educate them as to why they should stay inside. I would also comfort them if they got rained on! Seems our kids are dealing with enough realities starting in kindergarten or first grade – meeting people they don’t like, dealing with “homework” and outside responsibilities. Another good blog, Susannah.

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  2. I’m with you. It was different when I grew up (in the 60’s), kids had more freedom, but it was a very different time. My daughter is now a mother, and I totally get her need to be more protective and sheltering. The world today is a dangerous place for kids. Stick to your guns.

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    • Thanks Nancy. Yes, I always thought that ‘back in the day’ kids had more freedom etc and that the world was a safer place. I have since read many accounts of sexual abuse ie from strangers who would pick girls and boys up from playing in their front yards. Is it possible it just wasn’t talked about and thereby give the illusion that it’s happening more now because there is media coverage?
      And how about the proliferation of drugs in the 60’s and 70’s? Those shocking mini skirts and Elvis?
      I think we can fool ourselves into thinking it’s worse but I’m not convinced.
      Either way, I’m sticking to my guns! 🙂

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  3. I have thought about this too. I shelter my son, he’s only 10 after all. Human children take so long to grow up ( it’s that’s great big brains we give birth to.) I know the stats tell us that there is no more danger now than there use to be, but even through I ran wild in the Scottish Highlands, everyone knew everyone. Some one could call out “Where’s Kate,” and half a dozen people would know. I don’t live like that now. I live in a big city and I know my immediate neighbours and no more. It’s my job to shelter him.

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    • I definitely agree – city vs country is very different!
      It would be interesting to see the research on whether it’s worse or better now in small towns as opposed to years ago. I lived on 64 acres growing up, so the only dangers were snakes, bullants and the possibility of twisting your ankle in a rabbit hole!

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