Thursday, August 14, 2008

Are We Raising Strong Kids or Wimps?

I have to admit I’m worried about how today’s kids are going to be as adults. It seems as though the majority of parents these days are so overprotective of their kids.

When our neighbors and good friends moved last month they took with them their trampoline. My daughter was very disappointed because she LOVED jumping on it. Our next door neighbor…not so much (he has two kids – an 11 or 12 year-old boy and a 5 year-old girl). He actually told our friends “I’m so glad that thing is going to be gone now.”

So a few weeks ago I mentioned a big purchase we made…guess what it was?!?! We now have our very own trampoline. I’ve been wanting one for a while…as a former gymnast I grew up on them…both at the gym and in our backyard. But it had always seemed silly to buy one since our good friends had one that we could use any time we wanted. So once theirs was gone, I decided it was time. I got a nice big square one with lots of room to tumble!

Our city has a code that says a trampoline must either be fenced in or have the netting around it (to keep stray kids off). Most people go with the safety netting.

Anyway, our next door neighbor was not too happy with us (can you tell I do not care whatsoever?) and the kids have a blast on it. But it does worry me that they’re learning to use a trampoline with so much protection around them. When hubby and I were little there was no such thing as those nets. We learned how to not fall off of it, and if we did, we knew how to fall. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love the piece of mind I have with that enclosure knowing I can let my son jump back there without constantly watching him, and that he can jump with the big girls without fear that he’ll fall off. But I still hate the idea of the “safety net.”

We talk to various neighbors about this trampoline, and so many of them have such a fear of it and don’t like their kids on it. I understand there’s a chance they can get hurt. There’s also a chance that they can fall off their bike and hurt themselves too! But for some reason these people don’t think like that.

Another thought...what if my kids go to a friend's house that has a trampoline without a net? Now I know some of you might say that your kids know not to get on it. But let's be realistic here...I have fantastic kids who follow my rules very well, but I was also a kid, and I know that there were things I did even though my parents told me not to (we all did). So would I want them getting on there not knowing what to do or would I want them to be able to protect themselves?

Now of course this is just one tiny example, and I obviously want to protect my kids as much as I can. But I also don’t want them growing up to be wimpy people. I want strong kids that will be good athletes and employees someday and that won’t whine because something might be a little scary. I want them to learn how to tackle their fears. I want them to know how to pick themselves back up when they fall.

I don’t think that a lot of today’s kids will be able to do that…their parents are trying to protect them from too much when they are little. If they don’t experience falling and pain and failure when they’re little and the parents can help them, how are they going to react when their parents aren’t around?

Continued tomorrow….


Julie said...

I have to disagree; I have very strong feelings about trampolines and wouldn't let me kids on one that doesn't have safety nets. The summer before my senior year in highschool, one of my friends was jumping on a trampoline and while screwing around, ended up falling off of it and breaking his neck. He is permanently paralyzed and confided to a wheel chair for life. The net would have prevented that accident.

I think as parents we have the responsibility to make sure our children are in a safe environment. Not a bubble but to make things/activities as safe as possible. They will have plenty of "opportunity" to experience pain in failure in life - I don't see any reason to have it happen any sooner than necessary.

Happy Working Mom said...

In high school I had a friend that was severly injured (paralyzed) in a car accident...does that mean that I shouldn't let my kids ride in a car until they're older?

My other question would be if your kids went to someone else's house that had a trampoline without a net, are you positive they wouldn't get on it? I know my kids are good, but I also know that they are humans, and I would much rather them know what they're doing than get on one for the first time and fall off because they're inexperienced.

Sherry said...

We have had a trampoline for the twins since they were about 11 with NO NET. Yeah I know I am bad. Our back yard is totally fenced in and if someone jumps the fence hey nothing I can do about it. All the kids that come here love the trampoline and it's up to the parents to watch them.
I have told the kids to choose spotters when they tumble etc and just be safe.
Parents now days coddle the kids so much alot grow up to be wimps, then when they are bullied the parents can't figure out why!!
So yep I am a bad one, trampoline in the yard for years with out the net, am I going to hell???

The Guider said...

I do agree - and lots of our friends have trampolines in their back gardens, all without nets in fact I can only think of one locally that has a net and they have a 2 year old so I guess that is why.

I am a Brownie Guide leader and we are very adventurous with our 7-10 year olds. They've been to London 3 times two of which were overnight, they've been abseiling, climbing, tobogganning, done archery and are going to try Tae Kwan Do next month, among other activities. The parents like that their kids are trying "dangerous stuff safely" in that we ensure safety certificates and high adult ratios (not like freaky high 1:1 or anything but 1:4 in London, 1:6 on weekends away, 1:8 for everything else compared to school which could be 1:15 in many situations). And as our pack is always full (at 24) with many younger sisters of girls who have already been Brownies with us, we are doing something right for them.

The Guider said...

Oh, and they have been camping, even some of the 7 year olds, and every year we teach the new ones to light a match, something that terrifies them and thrills them at the same time but is exactly the kind of skill they should be learning at Brownies.

Amy W said...

Our neighbor's have a trampoline that Ashley and Audrey get on. I don't think I would let them on it if it didn't have a net, but I am also the same parent who lets Ashley ride her scooter without a helmet. Bad Mom, I know.

This trampoline is pretty high, without a net, Audrey would surely break something if she fell off. I don't think protecting them with nets on trampolines makes them wimpy, I think it makes them smart (or their parents smart :)).