“Be Careful When You Run With that Stick!”


By Karolyn Benger

There are many things I find myself saying as a parent that I never thought I would say.  Things that everyone knows should not be allowed. Things that, before having children, I would have glared or rolled my eyes at or, in a particular moment of self-righteousness, I would have approached the mother about.

And then I had kids.

Two of them. Rambunctious, active boys. And I have ceased judging other parents and the things they say.

What’s more, I have learned there is a delicate balance of what to allow and not allow. I have discovered the benefits of trusting my son to do things others would frown on playing with sticks, climbing up the slide, and running ahead of me on the sidewalk. He has learned how much he gains from having my trust and he has learned the consequences of losing privileges when that trust is violated. He has also discovered the painful lesson that my warnings are not superfluous. Skinned palms and knees, cuts, bruises, and thorn pricks are the price he has paid for choosing to ignore my warnings.

But these are also the very normal costs of growing up. We cannot, and should not, shield our children from all harm. They will get hurt. And they should.

Cuts, bruises, and scraps teach our children a lesson no words can fully express. Life is filled with pain…and joy, and laughter, and love. We want our children to experience all of it and to do that we have to give them the space to make mistakes and the freedom to try.

That means we have to give their parents the same.

Last week I was having lunch at a friend’s house. I heard her say to her daughter, “please hand mommy that knife very carefully”.

I just smiled.