How Do We Keep Our Children Safe?
Parenting has its fair share of stress. How do you raise your child to be aware of their surroundings but not grow up fearful?
Worry. Worry sets in as soon as your child is conceived and only grows deeper once your little one arrives. Unfortunately, just as love flows in abundance, so does your stress level. At least for me, anyway.
And as much as I adore living in New York City, there are things I worry about when looking ahead to the future, and my little girls (my babies!) growing up here. I imagine these days, the same could be said for Topeka or Dallas or Boston. There are a few obvious questions that run through my head… at what age is it appropriate for your child to take mass transit by his/herself? To walk to the corner deli, or to school or a friend’s home on their own? When can I unleash my child on this world and not worry constantly about her until she returns?
The worst part of all is that I have no answers, but I can imagine a few… it all depends on the child, right? You know when you know. Or, you never stop worrying, but you must trust that you’ve taught your child to make smart decisions, to be savvy, to be constantly aware of everything around them. If you’ve done your job right, then you won’t have to worry. At least not as much. And I can almost get behind that. Except then I think about Leiby Kletzky, the young Orthodox Jewish boy from Brooklyn who was kidnapped and murdered on his way home from school, all because he got turned around and stopped to ask directions. And I want to scream and cry and rage at the world because what happened to Leiby isn’t FAIR and life should not be so brutal. And because his parents did everything right.
I am so thankful that there is plenty of time before my little girls will be headed out the door without the watchful eye of me and my husband. And in that time, I hope to raise them with a sense of wonderment about the world, but also keep them grounded in reality. To be aware of their surroundings, but not fearful. To be strong and confident in their own skin. And at the end of the day, that is all I can hope for, really.
My older daughter is three years old and we’ve started teaching her to look both ways before we cross the street. To watch for cars and the little man that lights up green. To understand that green means “go” and red means “stop.” The first step on the long road of raising our child so she can venture out on her own.
Kidpower: This charitable educational non-profit’s mission is filled with helpful resources, and their mission is to teach people of all ages, especially children, to use their power to stay safe, act wisely and believe in themselves.
The Polly Klaas Foundation: A national non-profit dedicated to the safety of all children, the recovery of missing children and public policies that keep children safe in their communities. This link will send you to information on sending away for a free child safety kit.
I Can Play it Safe: Start the conversation with your child after reading this children’s book, which teaches the reader about personal safety in a non-threatening way.
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