As a retired police officer, and having worked for a number of years in a number of specialist positions, as well as in uniform, I have seen and helped people on the worst days of their lives. Some of these people are children, kids that may never go home again, some that will not have the dignity of dying in a hospital or even surrounded by their loved ones.
As you can imagine, as a parent, the want to protect my children from all the horrors of life, from danger and pretty much anything that might hurt or upset them is forefront, but logically I know that they will not grow, mature and become great adults if I do this.
However, through a lot of self-control, a lot of grinding my teeth and biting the inside of my cheek, I have learnt to let go, to encourage and to allow the kids to make mistakes, to live and to learn from their mistakes. I have learnt this because, let’s face it, Mia didn’t break her leg at age 6 because of negligence, she didn’t break her arm 6 months later because of a dangerous situation and Liam never meant to drop the secateurs that imbedded themselves in Mia’s foot. They were all accidents, accidents I could not have prevented or stopped from happening.
Wrapping our children in cotton wool, hovering over them whenever they try to do something, or simply stopping them from trying something due to our own fears, is not teaching our children how to cut a carrot for dinner, is not teaching our children to climb a ladder and is not teaching them to live. It is teaching them to doubt themselves, their abilities, their skills and kills their self-esteem. There is no better feeling than mastering a skill, so why would we deny our children that chance.
While we take all reasonable precautions, and teach our children about safety, assessing situations and being aware, we also know that accidents do happen. Accidents can happen while we are supervising, like Mia dislocating her knee when falling over, and other accidents can happen because it is simply bad luck.
Travelling Australia has opened our children up to more opportunities to learn skills, like setting up the caravan, directing one of us when hooking up the van, using an axe or chainsaw, building a fire and lightning the fire and so much more, all with our supervision, advice and the mantra that if mum and dad can do it, so can you.
This, we have found, has resulted in our children growing their self-esteem, their confidence and their belief in themselves. They know that if they cannot do something, they can ask for help and while we will not necessarily do it for them, we will take the time to show them, to teach them and to encourage them to have a go. Thus, ensuring that we are giving our kids the best opportunity to grow and learn, and as parents we are taking the time to spend with our kids in the best way we can – passing on our knowledge, and learning new lessons together.