I let my kids walk home alone.
I’m not quite a Free Range parent. That said, most of my “should we let him do that?” decisions are aimed at building resilience and problem-solving skills, not protecting them from the unthinkable.
The emotions brought up by the tragedy at the movie theater in Aurora are bound to make most parents question giving our kids any freedom to venture into the world!
There are lessons to be learned here, but they are not a good ones. There are ways to handle our emotions, and our kids’ emotions, that build us into hopeful, resilient people.
It is too easy to take away from this tragedy the idea that we must keep our children home. Why shouldn’t we?
Why We Need to Encourage Our Kids to Engage in Normal Activities
- It won’t work. Our kids can’t be with us every minute, very few of us can or would design our lives to be at home all the time. And even fewer of our children would want that life for themselves as adults. So our kids need to practice “leaving us” a little each day, and we need to let them.
- It won’t help. Much as I love the fantasy that nothing bad can happen to my kids as long as my eyes are upon them, too many parents know that for the fallacy it is. So we have to give our kids the knowledge and skills they need to do the best they can with whatever life throws at them. Then we have to let them try.
- It gives the “shooter” all the power and takes away our own. It’s not enough to tell our children that good can triumph over evil. We need to prove we believe it by equipping them with courage, awareness and resourcefulness, and then give them the chance to practice those skills each day as they venture out.
How Can We Handle Fears of Going to the Movies
- Our children’s fear? Show them the amazing stories. Teach them that, in the face of tragedy, there are always people who step up and stand out. Remind them of the hundreds of supporters and caregivers who show the outstanding good in the world when bad things happen. Give them faith: in themselves, in their upbringing, in God or whatever brings you strength. Remind them how incredibly rare something like this is and that the statistics show that they are safe.
- Our own fear? In truth, this is a parent’s most finely honed skill: we let our children into the world despite the fears that are born the same moment as the child. Don’t let a madman or a news cycle undermine your own faith in your child, in your parenting, in God or whatever brings you strength.
Our children are resourceful, they are resilient, and they are the future of the world. We must give them the strength to go out into that world and live their lives.