feel the fear

When you start to dig deep, it all boils down to fear.  Fear that children will come to ‘harm’ if we stop guarding their every moment, fear of the litigation that could follow if they did.  It’s this fear (plus of course the accursed Gove and his army of satanic minions, let us give credit where credit is due) that is destroying childhood and education.

We are becoming afraid to let children get dirty, wet or uncomfortable; afraid they might suffer even the most minor of injuries; afraid to allow them unstructured and unsupervised free time.  Obviously no sane parent wants bad things to happen to their children, but this is something different, sinister.  We are afraid for our children, but worse, we are afraid that we will be judged as parents, and found wanting.  How many instruments does your child play?  Have they got all their swimming badges?  Is that mud under their fingernails?  Do their clothes match and have the right label?

A mother told me this week that she didn’t like having boys round to tea, because of the “noise and mess and chaos.”  What she liked was, “Children who sit quietly at a table in the corner, colouring…”  I’m trying hard here with the Not Judging, really, I am.  It was said with some humour and self-mockery, and I think acknowledging your own limits of coping is a great thing as a parent. But it made me sad.  Sad for her; sad for her children; sad for all those children who miss out on noise, and mud and chaos, and are restricted to colouring inside the lines, and a safe, virtual, clean existence.

Children who aren’t allowed to experiment and take risks miss out.  They don’t learn to judge for themselves, to make their own implicit risk assessments about situations, because the adult-in-charge has already removed the danger from the activity, by the magic charm of paperwork, in triplicate copies.  They don’t learn to cook and climb, to use tools and build fires, to swing across streams and roll down grassy hills, to plan and budget, to navigate an independent path through the big scary world and travel beyond the horizon, because the process of acquiring these skills would inevitably expose them to risk.  They don’t get the opportunity to fail, and learn that you can try again, because failure is bad, so it mustn’t happen…

I have a lot of questions about what we’re doing to our children, but no answers…



Filed under guides, Uncategorized

2 responses to “feel the fear

  1. Gem

    This is all so very, very true. Saddens me. What on earth are we doing to our kids? I don’t remember it being half as bad when I was at school.

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