Walking the Rescue Tightrope
Do you ever feel like you are walking on a tightrope? On one side of the narrow line is a scary drop into “Overprotection Canyon” while the other side offers an even worse fall into “Dangers-of-the-World Abyss.” Why is it so difficult to stay balanced between coddling…and allowing disaster?
This world can be a pretty complicated place. Some dangers can seem very subtle — even harmless. In other cases, our instinct to rescue kids can kick in when it’s really not necessary.
While we can’t give you an easy, one-size-fits-all answer to this dilemma, we can offer some general guidelines to help you stay balanced:
- If somebody on Planet Earth will be hurt or killed, or somebody’s future will be irreparably damaged, step in and save the day.
By the way, how often is this really the case? Not often.
- Avoid rescuing when kids seem to EXPECT to be rescued.
This can be a dangerous trend — when kids are trained to believe they can be as irresponsible or reckless as they want and then EXPECT us to swoop in.
- Be MORE ready to intervene with kids who don’t usually need it.
If a kid never seems to need rescue, pay close attention when he/she does.
- Base your decisions on real needs and real dangers, NOT what others might think.
Parenting is not about impressing the neighbors. Your kids’ long-term health is far more important than the perceptions of others.
- If you are not sure, err on the side of safety.
If your rescue is likely to prevent real and eminent harm, don’t worry about ‘being a helicopter’. It’s better to have the chance to try to empower kids tomorrow than not to get that chance.
We hope these ideas will help you make quality decisions and help you feel good about them.
You can get more help with these dilemmas around empowering kids in the book Parenting for Success.
Good luck staying balanced!