Sometimes, I hear things like — I (will) never take my children to the mall. This is normally spoken in a holier-than-thou voice, with complete contempt for anyone who expresses a slightly different opinion.
It always reminds me of the words of wisdom spoken by a good friend of mine.
Our group of friends were on a trip with the kids, and all of us were hanging out at a small stream. One of the fathers was urging the kids to come and sit under the small but powerful waterfall, and the kids were rather hesitant at first. The reaction of the parents was interesting too. Some urged their child to take the plunge, some were treading on the cautious path, and others were just downright uncomfortable. Finally, all the kids did go under the waterfall. Some enjoyed it immensely, others were glad to get out.
As we were returning to our resort, we were discussing what had happened. What my friend said then made excellent sense. She said that the more we prevent our kids from doing things, the more they long to do them, and find sneaky ways of doing them if not permitted. However, if we allowed them to do things in our presence, ensuring their safety, security and education, they would not be so inclined to jump in when temptation presents itself.
In many ways, we restrict our children based on our own fears. We forbid them to do things based on our own beliefs. Yet, if we allowed them to experience whatever it is (with our guidance), and make up their own minds as to whether they like it or not, would it not be better? Wouldn’t they grow up to be less fearful, and hence less hypocritical? Agreed, our guidance would naturally be biased, but I feel it is better than a blanket ban.
I honestly feel that one can take one’s child to the mall and expose him to everything there, without irretrievably corrupting the soul. If we provide him with enough alternatives, and we don’t become mall-rats ourselves, I see no harm in exposing the child to different things in life. It builds character too, a la Calvin! 😛
In fact, I think sometimes we ourselves get to experience so many things that we would never have dreamed of, thanks to our kids! 🙂