The Washington Post

Courage, parents. Courage

(Reuters/Brenden McDermid )

In the most recent chat with our new parenting advice columnist and parent coach, Meghan Leahy, someone asked a good question about the free-range issue, and the juxtoposition of two stories.

She answers, well, with courage.

Q. Where Do You Stand?
An article yesterday about giving children freedom and not being fearful drew many comments, mostly in favor of letting kids roam without worrying. An article today concerned a 12-year-old who drowned in a flash flood because his mother allowed him to play in the rain. As a mother, and now a grandmother, who remembers Adam Walsh and Etan Patz, I tend to err on the side of caution and raised my three daughters to become strong, independent women without taking chances with their lives. What do you think?

A. Meghan Leahy:

Oh dear.

The parent coach in me knows the data: we are safer now than we have ever been. Children are really not kidnapped by strangers. Children are not hurt by strangers. .. But our reptilian and mammalian brain is sounding the alarm: “NOT SAFE! NOT SAFE!”

And, the mother in me wants to lock my kids in the house.

What we need is courage. Real courage.

The reality is that bad stuff is going to happen to good kids. Period. The end. My kids, your kids, our friend’s kids. This is the pain of life.

But the greater pain we can inflict is scaring our children into believing that the world is inherently bad (it isn’t) and people are bad (they aren’t), and the answer is to play it safe and do nothing.

Why live?

So, we need courage and we need to allow our kids to play.

Meghan Leahy has a lot of other wise words. Here’s the transcript from the most recent chat, and here’s her most recent column about toddler tantrums.

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Amy Joyce is the editor and a writer for On Parenting.



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