Stop child-proofing your home
Just yesterday, I reminded my second daughter to attach a gate at the top of her stairs to prevent her 1-year-old daughter from accidentally falling down the stairs. Surely, that was a grandmother's concern for her pretty grandchild.
But then, I remember that I had brought up my own three girls without those gates. Fact is, the stairs at my parents' home were open ones, with 9" in between ballusters, and no wall on the other side. Come to think of it, we had not really child-proofed our own 4th floor condominium unit which had an open spiral staircase near an ungrated window. Not that we didn't want the house to be safe; funds just couldn't cover the extras.
But none of my children met with any serious accidents at home -- no scalded fingers, no near drowning in the pail or baby tub, no falls from the chairs, no electrical shocks, just a minor bump or two on an unbuffered table corner.
I remember though that I once heard a thump-thump-thump on our steel spiral staircase, and found my second daughter, then a chubby 3-year-old, sprawled head-down on the stairs. Her shoulders rested on the 3rd step, her head raised and poised, one hand was flailing slightly on the 2nd step, and one of her legs was caught between two metal ballusters. It was a frightful sight. I rushed over to untangle my daughter from the stairs, afraid she had hurt her head. Upon checking though, she seemed fine with nary a scratch. We now laugh at the situation, referring to how her baby fat cushioned her fall.
Back then, we took care of our children, fully aware that discovery and exploration were crucial keys to learning. A little dirt on cute bedimpled fingers to pick up a nice fallen leaf in the park could easily be wiped off with a wet towel. Climbing the sofa was fine, but take off the shoes or slippers first. Climbing the stairs is ok, but hold onto the ballusters one at a time. Mama will be right behind to support when needed.
Another mother shares her take on the pre-occupation with child-proofing modern homes.
"I am a childcare provider, and a mother of four myself. I have anywhere from 7 to 11 kids in my home any given day of the week. I only provide care for the children of my friends, and share my parental philosophies with them often; however, it never fails to amaze me, the ignorance out there.
"Mothers, you think putting locks on doors, and safety plugs in outlets, and corner buffers on edges is protecting your children from danger. You are so VERY wrong. You are only avoiding your children's natural tendency to explore. You are also provoking them to open every cupboard, door or curtain in your friends' homes, thus adding to the eminent danger of your child. You are also causing a great deal of frustration to the people's homes you visit, and possibly ruining friendships.
"Child proofing is the lazy parents answer to teaching your children right from wrong, danger from safety. Its just as bad as drugging your ADD child, instead of helping them cope with their natural personality.
"Why don't you try to be with your kids more. Get down on their level with them. Teach them about danger, instead of avoiding it. Teach them about safety. Take them to the hospitals, jails, court rooms, fire department, water treatment plant, animal rescue, health department, and others like these???? Spend some more time with your kids, you'll be amazed at how much they will learn and grow. And your friends may stop pulling their hair out every time you grace them with your presence."
So why was I reminding my daughter to install a gate at the top of the stairs? Forget that, I've changed my mind, knowing that my own three daughters had gotten the best education we could afford--the freedom to discover and experience.
Perhaps we need to study how trends and products have changed our perception, values and attitudes. I admit that I was influenced by the convenience of the newer products for babies, and had considered the thought that my own children should not go through the less comfortable situations we had experienced when they were young.
But then, all three wonderful daughters have grown to be responsible, curious and adventurous, simple and unparanoid, free-thinking, loving and caring ladies. So why should my grandchildren not have similar opportunities?
NOTE: I failed to copy the link to the cited paragraphs above. If you find that these are yours, please accept my apologies. I don't intend to claim those insights as my own. But they did allow me less words to express. I would surely appreciate being able to link this to the proper source.... Vikky