Let Them Do Dangerous Things Carefully

Of course, you don’t want your kids to struggle or fail. You don’t want them to get hurt or in trouble. You don’t want them doing dangerous things.

But you also know that they can’t grow without struggle. They can’t learn without failing. They can’t gain experience without getting into some trouble. They can’t live without doing dangerous things.

We told you recently about one of Jordan Peterson’s parenting rules. While certainly considered a problematic thinker these days, he does have a good rule that is worth consideration: don’t interfere when your kids are doing dangerous things carefully.

When you look out the window and they are climbing a tree, when you come to pick them up from a friend’s house and they are skateboarding, when they are going up the ladder to jump off the high dive—override your instinct to yell, “Hey stop that! You’re going to hurt yourself!” Don’t infect them with your nervousness and anxiety. Don’t give them your fears (as Marina Abramovic’s grandmother did). Don’t prevent them from trying and risking just because you are afraid. Don’t stunt their growth with your worries.

Luctor et emergo—let them struggle and emerge. Yes, encourage them to be careful. Yes, explain to them what’s required to do a hard thing well, and the danger that comes when you do it poorly. But after that? Let them risk and learn and fail and experience on their own accord.

Let them do dangerous things carefully. Let them live.

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