On Friday, I was made horribly aware of how pervasive the "fear the worst" culture is. I thought I was pretty open-minded, possibly even naive at times. But as I was driving through a neighbourhood I don't go to often I saw an old man sat on a park bench in a playground full of little children.
Now my first thought was "Oh geez, don't let Monkey notice the playground" but that was swiftly followed by "Wow, he's brave to sit there... People may think he's dodgy..."
Why didn't I think - "Wow, what a great way to cheer yourself up and feel more energised, by watching happy children playing in the park".
I didn't think that because sadly the worst-case-scenario thinking is forefront in most mums' minds.... IT SUCKS!!
I read an awful lot of blogs (sometimes too many) and one of them is FreeRange Kids which is an amazing resource but does bring up a lot of worst case scenarios and then debunks them or brings your attention to the idiocy of legislation and litigation. This balances out some of the crazy shit that people write about... (One blogger wrote a letter to her family explaining why her kids would not be allowed to see them alone due to the fact that familial sexual abuse was statistically likely to occur...)
My parenting ethos is to teach Monkey that people are to be trusted, on the whole. But gut feelings count more. If he feels uncomfortable with some one, he is right to not be with that person. I don't put rudey nudey photos of him online, mostly because I'd like him to have some dignity but there are an awful lot of nude photos in our albums.
Some people are hypervigilant about paedophiles, fearing that a stranger is going to look at their child and use the visual as a stimulus for ummm pleasure... Or worse snatch the child. But I am not that worried... I wouldn't let him put himself in harms way. I would teach him the tools to know what feels right and what doesn't. The chances are so slim, that he is more likely to be hurt in a car accident or kicked by a donkey. And, sadly, he is more likely to be hurt or abused by a family member or trusted friend.
So here's the quandary... Is it poor parenting to teach him that people are innately good, that they are worthy of trust and that your gut instincts will protect you from most harm? Or should I be buying into the fear?
And surely buying into the over vigilant, worst-case-scenario bullshit is going against my aim of focussing on the now and not the big picture???
Please let me know what you think but please keep it nice....