Being a relatively new parent has caused me to rethink a lot of my ideas about parenthood in general. Most notably of these is the idea of keeping my little one safe from all the harms of the world. Both the accidental and the nefarious.
When I was little, and this is almost cliche now, I would stay out until dark, play around and in the streets, travel sometimes miles away from the house and never had any communication with my mother until I finally got home. The rule was that I had to be at home when the street lights would start coming on, and I found a loophole in that by locating one of the lamps near my house that would not come on until well after dark. I used that as my lamp by which to go home.
Now that I am a father, and living in the world that I live in, I see that children are exposed to so much more than I was when I was his age. Yes, the world is more dangerous and things move a lot faster these days, but I have to wonder if keeping him close and protecting him from all this is healthy.
At some point he is going to experience the world, and I have to wonder if all my protection that I am trying to provide for him as he grows will help or hinder his progress. I know that I should be there for him and make sure that he is safe and cared for, but I also know from personal experience that part of what made me the person I am is the mistakes I made, the accidents I had and the problems I caused when my mother was not around to monitor me. They have become part of who I am.
So the question becomes… By my wife and I protecting and shielding him, are we going to end up stunting his emotional and social growth? Will he be less of a man because of our actions?
Who is to say. There are, as I have found out, many sides to the argument and it does not seem that any one has a single answer that they can prove beyond any doubt is the right one. So it goes back to the old philosophy about parenting that describes it as a crap-shoot. You take your chances, do your best and let the dice fall where they will. In time, only TIME and our best efforts will tell.