News To You — February 2nd, 2012
Here’s your justb. cheat sheet to being interesting today:
One mum takes her toddler rock climbing while another has her boys cook dinner independently once a week — these two news items from today together tell a much bigger story.
Daredevil Mum Part 1
Some mums stop breathing when their partner plays throw-and-catch-the-baby-in-the-air. Other mums take their babies rock climbing. There’s a canyon between those two positions that divides the landscape of parenting into those who believe kids need to learn how to manage risk from a young age, those who want to hold risk far, far away, and all that lies between.
The comments intoned that Menna didn’t have the right to make such a decision on behalf of her child: “It’s her choice to take risks but who is she to make that choice for her child? As if it’s some kind of property she can take a chance on damaging.”
Menna responded to her critics that the risk involved in what she was doing was minimal because top-roping is the safest kind of climbing you can do.
Some would argue that organised risk-taking, like rock climbing, is actually far safer than a dad throwing his baby in the air and catching it. However, both pose risks, as does walking out the front door.
Daredevil Mum Part 2
Leslie Kaufman grew tired of walking in the front door after work and jumping straight into preparing dinner only to have her boys come downstairs from playing video games, lift the lid on dinner, and declare it boring or inappropriate: not pasta again! don’t you know I hate tomatoes!
So here’s what she did, as she writes in The New York Times:
I asked each of my sons, ages 14 and 10, to cook dinner once a week. I was not proposing a heartwarming mother-son bonding experience. I made it clear that they could cook only when an adult was in shouting distance, but the goal was to have them plan and execute the meal on their own while I commuted home or ran errands — or drank a glass of wine on the couch.
So risky on a number of levels.
- Dinner could be truly awful.
- Accidents could happen.
- Fights could ensue.
- A ton of mess could be left behind.
Six months in, nothing like the above appears to have taken place, according to Leslie. In fact, the boys, after getting off to shaky start, have mastered more than just how to cook duck with pilaf; they understand the most important lesson of all — how to plan and prepare ahead.
The question here is not who is the better mum. Nor is it our place to determine the rights of these mums when it comes deciding how to teach risk to their kids. The takeaway from these stories, as I see it, is thank goodness for all types.
Without being able to see all kinds of differences in the way we can live life, and having the freedom to take from it what we need to make our own decisions about what we want our lives, and the lives of our kids to be, we would all remain stuck between a rock and a hard place.