Tuesday 25 January 2011

Is there a weirdo on every corner? Or is that just societal scare - mongering?

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....


  1. You know Cyndi - there is just a little too much "PC" in the world these days! Yes, the big wide world is frightening - more for the parents than for the kids (no matter their age.

    How will our children learn to stand up for themselves, or to even learn to know themselves, if we don't let them.

    Sometimes, I just don't think we give our kids enough credit. I know I don't and that's just not fair. We so easily and so often put our own fears onto our children.

    Maybe it wouldn't hurt to step back to arm length on occassion.

    Bless you for being aware of your thoughts.


  2. Its kinda sad, isn't it that we immediately fear the worst. When DH was a SAHD he was hyper-aware of being a man in a park/playground and if people would realise he was just a dad. He said if a child got hurt he didn't know whether it was ok to pick them up and help in case a parent got the wrong idea.

    I think we should teach our children that bad people are the exception and that most people are good.

  3. I'm with you. I talk about personal space and privacy with my son, but I'm much less concerned about the 1 in a million things. Our society is overly concerned about protecting our children from perceived dangers that we don't do enough to protect them from the real danger, ignorance.

    When I first met my head of school and he was showing us around the school building, he lamented that you don't see enough kids in casts anymore. Breaking an arm hurts for sure, but it teaches you an important lesson about your boundaries. Maybe we would have less car accidents in the 18 to 24 year range if we let kids get hurt more when they are younger...

  4. "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."

    So where exactly does the name Monkey come in?

  5. Thanks Esther. I know where you're coming from :D

    Intermittent - Stud1 feels the same. He is very hesitant when he's on playground duty on the weekends. It's so sad!

    David - That's what I think. Education is the most important part of parenting and mostly it's not from books it's from falling over etc... Your head of school sounds like a very clever man!

    Anonymous - I'm not entirely sure what you mean, I am guessing that you mean Monkey is not dignified... Well I guess it's not but it is a nickname he's had since birth (he was very active) and he is our cheeky monkey. If he hates it when he's 18 - fine. If you meant something else please elaborate and I'll answer :)




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