Risk plays a major factor in what activities we allow our children to take part in. From the moment they are born, we, as mothers, worry about their physical and mental safety, and do our best to guide them in the right direction. Risk helps us determine the limits and boundaries we create to keep our loved ones as safe and free from harm as possible. Ultimately, one of our main goals as parents is to protect our children while giving them enough slack so they’re making decisions for themselves and mature into well rounded, functioning adults. As hard as it can be to stand back, we must allow them to make mistakes and learn from them.
What happens when we limit those experiences or interfere too much? Is there a golden window of opportunity during the child and adolescent years when mistakes need to happen and consequences need to be distributed? Do we do more harm than good in the long run by over protecting our children? Has my fear of physical injury caused them to miss out on developing social and emotional skills because, instead of being out there with people, they’ve grown to rely on social media such as Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook? These are just some of the many questions I ask myself more and more each day now that my twin daughters are about to turn fifteen., It bothers me – a lot – that they spend an excessive amount of time in front of an electrical device when they should be in front of nature.
It’s a huge contrast to what I was like as a kid, and saddens me more as each day passes without a change. I was never one to be inside, and I spent as much time outside as possible. I was (and still am) fortunate to have had a childhood friend who had horses and a pool. Our neighborhood was our playground. I was also fortunate that I did not have a bleeing condition or an over protective parent. At fifteen, we did pretty much what we wanted and, most of the time, our parents didn’t know where we were or what we were up to. Sure, we made some poor choices, but we lived and laugh(ed) about the good times to this day. Have times just changed, or is the world we live in now actually more risky and over protective than it used to be?
Over the years, Morgan’s father and I have been a bit over protective with our hemophiliac daughter than her sister who does not have a bleeding disorder. Most of the extra guidance and care came early on, stemming from us not really knowing what to expect with her diagnosis. But, as time went on and she grew older, our fears soon became our parenting habits. In elementary school, Morgan was always a bit more clumsy and uncoordinated than her peers. She did not develop the proper fine or gross motor skills to undertake many of the simple activities other kids her age were already mastering.
Her social disability also added to the mix and weighed in on our decisions. In middle school, gym class proved to be both physically and socially challenging for Morgan to navigate through. She got physically hurt plenty of times. The gym class was extra large and loud, and she couldn’t handle the “ tween” social games that began. What was normally a safe, low risk activity for most kids, created a different set of risks, both physical and emotional, when it came to Morgan. During her seventh grade year, we decided with the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team to remove her from gym class all together; she hasn’t been to one since. Now, going into tenth grade this fall, and attending a much smaller private school, I am hoping to see Morgan return to physical education.
Thankfully, over fifteen years of clumsiness and multiple C.A.T. scans, Morgan has never had a major head bleed or serious bleed requiring a hospital stay. Prophylaxis has been good for her, and her joints are in great shape. Sure, there have been plenty of false alarms, and we’ve had to drop everything to address the situation. That’s part of the whole hemophilia experience, and is a lesson all on it’s own. Sometimes, we decide against an activity out of pure selfishness because we don’t want to inconvenience the whole family on a particular day, and do whatever possible to avoid a trip to the emergency room. We choose to say, “No” to going for a bike ride with the other kids at the party or to jumping on the trampoline.
The journey to keep my daughters safe, both mentally and physically, has come with some bumps and bends in the road, but I feel like there’s also a lesson for them to learn by hearing “No.” There’s no risk of getting hurt from that.
Destinee lives in New Hampshire with her husband, Ken, and twin daughters, Madison and Morgan (14).
*Note: “Infusing Love: A Mom’s View,” is a blog collection of personal opinions and a representation of individuals experiences. While extensive efforts are made to ensure accuracy of the content, the blog entries do not represent HFA or its Board of Directors. The blog is also not intended to be construed as medical advice or the official opinion/position of HFA, its staff, or its Board of Directors. Readers are strongly encouraged to discuss their own medical treatment with their healthcare providers.