This is my take on an article by The Art of Manliness on “dangerous” activities you should let your kids do. But I’m not a parent, so what do I know.
If you ignore the blatant misconception that parents “let” their children do things–in fact, kids do things and sometimes their parents find out afterwards–the article makes some excellent points.
Stopping kids doing anything that could vaguely be considered dangerous is likely to result in fragile adults who lack the confidence to deal with life’s challenges.
Let’s consider the activities The Art of Manliness thinks children should be allowed to do.
Children should be allowed to play with fireworks
I wasn’t allowed to play with fireworks as a kid. I also didn’t want to play with them because they were kind of terrifying. (Except sparklers. Sparklers are pretty.)
You light fireworks and they sit there pretending everything is fine. It’s not fine. The quiet is an illusion.
Just when you’re starting to think they’re duds, BANG.
Did I mention loud noises scare me?
Maybe if I’d been allowed to play with fireworks as a kid I wouldn’t find them so scary now.
Verdict on fireworks: Agree.
Children should be allowed to stick their arms out the car window
Dogs do it all the time, and they do it with their heads.
Look how happy it makes them. Why would you deny this joy to your children?
As The Art of Manliness points out, if you’re driving close enough to objects that there’s a risk of collision, you should probably leave more space.
There is a risk of birdstrike, but it seems very small.
Verdict on car windows: Agree.
Children should be allowed to use a bow and arrow
I don’t see how you can argue this point. Archery makes anyone’s life better.
Just have them watch or read Robin Hood or The Hunger Games first to get in the right mindset. They might use archery to right a wrong or save the world one day.
Verdict on archery: Agree
Children should be allowed to cook a meal
The serious downside here is that you’re required to eat whatever they cook without complaining. Even if it’s terrible.
The upside is that they’ll complain less about your cooking. Probably.
Given enough chances and hopefully not too many third degree burns, children will learn to cook an edible meal.
This skill will stand them in good stead as adults. Otherwise from the time they leave home they will have to subsist on instant noodles and frozen pizza. Believe me, the thrill quickly wears off.
Verdict on cooking: Agree
Children should be allowed to climb trees
Like, duh. What’s the point of being a kid if you can’t climb trees?
Verdict on trees: Agree
Children should be allowed to drive a car
(Note not alone and not on a public road)
The Art of Manliness suggests you work the pedals with the child on your lap steering. You’re then in a good position to take hold of the steering wheel if need be.
Kids need to be able to drive. Where would Danny the Champion of the World have been if he hadn’t been able to drive? In big trouble. Do you want to risk your children finding themselves in the same situation and not being able to drive?
We make a big deal about driving, but steering is simple. It’s avoiding the morons on the road that’s the hard part.
Verdict on driving: Agree
Children should be allowed to burn things with a magnifying glass
Not ants, themselves, or each other, but things that don’t mind being burned.
Making fire from sunlight and glass is sort of like magic, and it’s a useful survival skill. If you ever get lost in the bush on the way home from work you’ll want to know how to make fire with a magnifying glass.
Of course, knowing won’t help because it will be raining and you won’t have a magnifying glass.
Verdict on magnifying glasses: Agree
Children should be allowed to stand on the roof
Playing on the roof was one of the great joys of my childhood. Unless your child is the type who incessantly falls over his own feet and can’t go two minutes without being pushed over by his friend, what’s going to happen?
The roof is also an excellent place for: spying on your neighbours; pretending to read a book in a language you don’t understand; and working on your tan.
Not that I’m speaking from experience. I never lay on the roof trying to get a tan.
Verdict on roofs: Agree
Children should be allowed to sword fight with sticks
Try to stop children sword fighting with sticks and you’ll see how redundant this point is.
Sword fighting is a skill best begun early. If your children are ever attacked by sword-wielding bandits, you’ll be glad you let them practice on each other, even though their noses will never be entirely straight again.
Verdict on sword fighting: Agree
There you have it. Lots of things for your children to do that will keep you awake at night and (possibly) turn them into more capable human beings. Check out the Art of Manliness article for the full list.
Do you think parents today are too protective of their children? What do or would you let your kids do?
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