Is Protecting Your Child From Trauma A Good Idea?

The other day, I was rewatching an episode of Red Table Talk and Jada mentioned that because of the way they raised their children, in particular their daughter, she was so used to being around healthy, safe men- that growing up, she wasn’t able to discern problematic male behaviours. This got me thinking about our ability to protect our children, building a sterile environment for them and whether or not in the long run it’s such a good idea. My thoughts are fully a work in progress and I definitely do not profess to knowing anything, merely shedding my thoughts on something that crossed my mind. Read along and let me know if you agree or not.

I get it. One of our main goals as parents, is our child’s happiness and safety. So naturally when things arise which can possibly cause them harm we step in, in an attempt to protect them; the question lies, in how effective is that thought process? Some of the best lessons we as adults have ever learnt, was probably created from a mistake or problem. That ability to assess danger, manage adrenaline and silly decisions, but ultimately we lived. Like actually lived and had the story to share. We might have scars and trauma over it, but we survived it and in most cases I would say we came out wiser for it. So whenever I hear people say they want to protect their children from harm or from danger, it always gets me thinking of the opposite effect. How resilient are our children? What skills are we enforcing if we completely shield them from any sort of conflict or turbulence?

Out of suffering, have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are sealed with scars.

Khalil Gibran

Let me firstly say, because it needs to be said, I do not mean to actively expose our children to harm and dangerous traumatic situations. What I’m merely asking is by being overly protective and in some ways raising them in a sterile environment, what becomes of their problem solving skills? We ourselves learnt from these traumas, they shaped our character, they in some ways made us who we are. Though protecting them has many merits, you’re taking care of them, you’re trying to give them a healthy and balanced family life, but removing all forms of negatives/traumas will not make your child more resilient… in fact might it give them a false sense of life’s imbalance?We will not be with them for life, we will not be able to step into every situation they may be faced with, but one of my main goals as a parent is to prepare them for the world. The real one, not the one you’ve tightly curated around them.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can choose not to be reduced by them.

Maya Angelou

Arguably, some of the things my mother said to me, still ring in my ears to this day, of course it could be said that in many instances at the time, I fully ignored her, but what my mother did, was allow us to go out and learn for ourselves. She would impart her advise aka wisdom and then she would leave us to make the decision for ourselves, even if she didn’t agree, she wouldn’t step in any further. And even if sometimes you would rather someone to simply tell you what to do, her way was much gentler and it allowed you to learn from the choices you made, which at the end of the day is the way of life. It’s not always going to be roses, they can’t have their way at all times, life can be tough and in many cases unfair and full of nuances. But isn’t that what we are there for? To instil skills, guidelines and advice, but ultimately they need to live for themselves and make decisions for themselves.Things change, society has changed tremendously, but what hasn’t changed is the fact that we learn from our experiences.

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