Maintaining a balance between safety and freedom for our kids in the modern world

Good Parenting is a real necessity especially in today’s time and an acquired skill that comes with experience. Life is the biggest teacher they say, but our kids bring about the greatest life lessons for us. As parents, we want to keep our kids safe. With wellbeing and a nurturing environment on our number one checklist, striking a balance between the degree of freedom to be given and the level of safety to be ensured for our young ones is a difficult feat to conquer.

The world is full of bad people as we tell our kids, and this is also something that is evident as soon as we switch on the news. Numerous cases of kidnappings, murders, child abuse and trafficking making it to the top charts on every news channel, our heart surely skips a beat when thinking of how to ensure safety for our kids.

So how exactly are we to decide the degree of freedom to be given to our kids to roam free in the modern world?

The answer to this question isn’t the most straightforward and varies as per family’s needs and concerns. Each parent will have different dilemmas to deal with and will have to come to a mutually decided course of action with their kids. Although worrying is something synonymous to all parents, and needless to say all their concerns are valid. Urban parents might be concerned about their kids being attacked or hit by a car in the city, and rural parents might have concerns about their child getting hurt or not being able to find help. Parents often worry about social dangers to their kids in the urban environment.

Put your parental anxiety to rest and check out these ideas to help you through this crossroad.

Get the facts straight- When it comes to keeping your kids safe, it is surely helpful to get the facts straight. Taking a look at the statistics for your local area marks a good way of getting to know your locality better. While most information nowadays is available online and thanks to transparent policies that most governments have, information pertaining the real crime statistics is easy to access. Also going to a local police station will also help you in getting a reality check for your locality. Getting to grips with the crime statistics in your area will make you aware of the potential dangers. News stories, even from reliable channels and sources, can sometimes be overrated and over sensationalised, and can be made to seem worse than they really are. So even while looking for facts, we must keep logic and reality in hindsight.

Talk to your kids- In today’s time and age, when relationships have been replaced by technology, family outings have been replaced by online messenger groups, games with friends have been replaced by games with online friends, talking is the most important thing. Talking to your kids will not only help you in accessing their needs and wishes, it will also help you in keeping them grounded and true to self. Speaking to your kids about the world around them can be a starting point to raising independent kids. As parents, discussing your worries with them, and letting them know of how you think situations must be handled will allow your kids to better understand you, your thought process as a concerned parent and will also strengthen the bond you share with your kids. Having said that, the task here is not to scare your kids or make them fearful, the crux of the matter is to ensure your kids enjoy unhindered growth in a positive and nurturing environment and explaining the statistics to them, will make them understand how important it is to be safe and follow the necessary precautions.

Sometimes setting up rules and guidelines to ensure your kid’s safety becomes a necessity and is a justified act, however it might appeal to the kids as restricting their freedom or just unacceptable to some. What you can do is allow them to do what they want (to a certain extent) but set up a rule or guideline that is to be followed whatsoever. For example, you may allow your son to ride a bicycle and play with friends for 30 minutes but then he will have to check back in with you after the stipulated timeframe. Or maybe you can walk your daughter to her friend’s house, or ask her to call you once she has made it there safely.

Don’t judge by age- Age isn’t always the best measure when it comes to deciding what kids can and cannot do. Two different kids, same age, same gender, can be extremely different when it comes to their levels of maturity and awareness. Be honest with yourself in deciding the capabilities of your child, and by watching what they do and how they interact in the world, you may instinctively know what they are ready for and what they aren’t ready for.

Build a community- This is easier said than done in the modern world. However difficult, it is definitely possible. Talk to your neighbours, interact with the other parents at school, let them know who your kids are, and let your kids interact with others in the neighbourhood. Setting up a neighbourhood watch or getting involved in one is also a good way to build safe communities. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. While this isn’t always true anymore, having a village of people simply watching out for the local kids can make all the difference to their safety.

Trust your instincts – At the end of it, it all boils down to your instincts and gut feeling. It is crucial for parents to learn to trust their instincts. We do live in a scary world, but often it is made worse by media and access to worldwide news. What’s happening in one part of the world may not necessarily affect you locally which is why learning about the true statistics for your area becomes really important. And when you feel the time is right trust your instincts and allow your kids a certain level of freedom and ease. Children mimic the behavior of their parents. Thus, as parents, it is our duty to teach the right things to our kids, behave morally, and treat others with respect. Children will only learn if parents learn to step back a little at times and allow them to take charge. Have faith in your child, in your kid’s judgments and eventually you will know when the time is right to gently start letting go a little.

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