For moms in Savannah and the Coastal Empire


Lessons from waterfalls: balancing risk and safety for growing healthy kids

by Traci Schumacher on Mon, 08/13/2012 - 9:44pm

Well, we finally did it. Our family took a little vacation before the summer got away from us. We headed to Asheville, NC and the surrounding area for lots of hiking, waterfalls, admiring rocks, and searching for animals. The cool mountain air was a refreshing change from our Savannah August weather.

This was our first trip taking the kids hiking, and they all did great. Enthusiastic, happy, and hardly any complaints. They found it much more rewarding than walking our own native flat trails.

Our children's favorite activity was climbing on the rocks around streams and the bottoms of waterfalls, and they were surprisingly sure-footed and confident. It made my heart glad to see them finding their way, being strong and skillful and successful in their pursuits. Stretching their limits.

On the other hand, part of me cringed at times when they hopped from rock to rock. Waterfalls, like so much of life, are impartial and unforgiving. What if that next rock was slippery? What if they lost their balance? What if someone got hurt? We were up in the mountains who-knows-how-far from the nearest hospital.

But kids learn by taking chances. Not foolish, impossible chances that will hurt them. That's where parental guidance comes in. But reasonable chances and risks. Kids need to stretch to grow.

Defining the line between foolish and reasonable is the never-ending, and sometimes nerve-wracking, job of the parent. There is an art I think to balancing the Letting Go with the Keeping Safe, and the balance varies for different families.

This vacation I did a lot of balancing, but I think I did alright. My kids had a great time, and no one got really hurt other than some scraped knees. No one even fell in the water. Well... except our little guy who slid right in on his bottom as he attempted to wade in a shallow pool. But he cried not out of pain, but for the sheer coldness of the water and sorrow over his dashed plans. Other than that, it was all good.


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