Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

It's not healthy to raise kids in a protective bubble

Carolyn Hax on

Dear Carolyn:

In regard to Emma [whose parents allow her to go to school but not "anywhere else, ever" http://bit.ly/EmmaAgain]: Please look at it from all angles. Maybe the mother suffered abuse at the hands of a friend's brother or father or grandfather and they are being vigilant and protective of their only child. Could it be overprotective? Possibly ... but rather safe than sorry.

-- G.

I know you mean well, and yes, Emma's mom might be traumatized.

I'll go one further: Parents have wide latitude to raise their children as they see fit.

But "better safe than sorry" is for tossing leftovers from the back of the fridge. Emma is a human being, and oversimplifying the way someone relates to the world for the entirety of her childhood -- meaning well beyond that, most likely -- is a profound disservice to her.

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If raising her entirely at home, with all non-school activities occurring under parental supervision, were the responsible way to prevent harm, then every child should be kept home -- right? Because what makes Emma's risk different from any other child's? (If Emma herself were traumatized -- different column.)

Think about it for a moment.

If the risk is so high that Emma isn't safe anywhere but home or school, then why is it OK for Emma's friends to come to her house? By the parents' logic, these friends, too, are safe only at their own homes or school. Emma's parents can't treat their rules as reasonably protective and host other children sans parents. They can't have it both ways and make any claim to integrity.

Either: Every child is in enough peril in a dangerous world that all of them should be under constant parental supervision until they reach certain age.

...continued

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