For most parents successful at… well, parenting – safety of their children is one of the most important things to consider. This has been on my mind a lot in the past few days, since we’re in the process of moving from our apartment to a big house in the countryside.
How much should we babyproof the place? What do we need to do?
I mean, don’t get me wrong – this house is truly a beautiful place to be in. It’s built for a large family able to function like a unit. It has plenty of space, a backyard, lots of sunlight and glass walls…
What it lacks, though, is baby-proofed space. It has a big fireplace that’s currently way too close to the playpen and Viktor’s toys, some cables hanging around and waiting to be chewed, a bunch of staircases… Not too friendly for an 11-month old, right?
Even with all this in mind and with knowing what we need to do to baby-proof the place so Viktor doesn’t get seriously injured, we’re determined to keep it at a minimum level.
Some may disagree with me on this, but Filip and I believe it’s not a very good idea to basically wrap the whole house with sponge-like material so our baby doesn’t hit his head. I don’t think this is an exaggeration since I’ve seen these parents baby-proofing so much that it doesn’t even resemble their house anymore.
If we empty all the bottom shelves, make all the surfaces soft and safe to land on, and get rid of any temptation to touch something he may be forbidden to, a few things are going to happen.
We’re not going to be able to introduce the concept of self-control.
This is a very important idea for small children. If we don’t work hard on getting our son to resist the urge to knock something over, by taking away the possibility, we’re going to create many problems for him in the future.
It’s quite obvious the world doesn’t work that way.
If we take away screen time, he’ll never learn how to say to himself: “Okay, cartoons are awesome, but playing outside feels better now – it’s a wonderful day outside. I’ll watch TV later.”
One day, he won’t know how to make the decision to leave the party early because he needs to get up in the morning – even though the party may still be going on.
Later in his life, he won’t be good at managing his finances properly and will spend a lot of money on things that don’t matter, just because he knows no self-control.
Am I overreacting and being obsessive? Maybe.
Maybe not, though.
I firmly believe that character traits of a child are formed very early in childhood and, by doing things to make our lives with kids easier, we do a lot of things that don’t help them become reasonable, independent adults at all.
Yes, I may have to run around and make sure he doesn’t get hurt more often – rather than just leaving him somewhere to hang out. But I will make sure to teach him that it is a viable choice to touch something he shouldn’t – a bad one with consequences, but an existing choice nevertheless.
He will not properly learn how to function in his own space.
We live in this house as much as he does. If he never, ever gets hurt by his own actions, he won’t know it’s even possible for that to happen. Do I need a reckless 4-year old running around the house with no idea or worry about what’s going to happen if he falls down the staircase or smashes his head into a wall? Or trips and falls? No, thank you.
I’m not saying I want these things to happen to him, or that he will only learn if these extreme cases occur. I’m not planning to allow it to happen.
If he doesn’t know the concept of any physical pain of hitting his head, falling or his fingers being pinched, I doubt he will be careful when he’s a bit older. I truly want him to be a curious, but cautious child, who knows that he can explore anything without asking – as long as he is safe while doing so.
It’s my overall opinion that falling a couple of times will be more beneficial in the long run while he’s still young, instead of landing on pillows up until the age of 5 because we can’t bear seeing him cry.
We’re following our own example.
If you were born in the 90’s, 80’s, or before that, you understand how much different parenting was back then in comparison to today. I’m going to be honest – I dislike many of the parenthood concepts nowadays.
They’re overprotective, favoring complete safety over learning how to be safe, and work towards creating a spending society.
All these things we buy to baby-proof our homes aren’t made because someone truly cared about babies.
They’re made so they could be sold, just like almost everything in the world. Every experienced salesperson will tell you that.
It’s not just about safety products – all these things like bottle and wipe warmers, vibrating sitting chairs and other ridiculous (yes, I said it) didn’t exist before.
I believe that this lack of products you can live without has made us into people we are. Most of us have the potential to be independent human beings.
When I look at the younger people (wow, I feel old when I say that), I see evident flaws in their upbringing that made them impatient, rude, selfish and uninterested in finding out how the world really works. If you’re one of the new century kids, don’t get offended – these are the kinds of people I have been meeting so far. If you think or know you’re different, good for you. And your parents. You’ll probably be out of their basement until you turn 30, which is not something I can say for many people I know.
So this is the point: let your children live simpler lives. Teach them about choices, rather than taking them away because it’s easier that way, hoping they will learn how to control their lives eventually. Don’t overspend on products they don’t need. These things don’t just take away your money, but also your time, which is a precious resource. The consumer’s mentality is what brought us where we are today – and you know very well where that is. In a mental state of panic buying and fighting over toilet paper.