My husband and I were on our first extended vacation in 6 years without our daughter when he decided he wanted to play a game of dodge ball with some other adults. I (being 6 months pregnant at the time) sat and observed.
There was a 9-year-old boy who begged to participate in the game. Midway through the game, an adult threw a ball and unfortunately struck the little boy in the face. He moved to the side of the court and appeared fine until his mom came rushing over to ask if he was alright. He then broke into a fit of tears and left the game in his mother’s arms.
I discussed this incident with my husband after the game.
I shared my feelings that our 5-year-old daughter would have taken the blow and kept playing, and that I hoped that boy would have other similar experiences in his life where he could independently decide if he was hurt and not fall into a puddle of tears when his mom rescued him.
My husband felt I might be being a little callused. He felt that the boy was young and should not have been participating with the adults since it was a risk. And I admit that with my pregnancy hormones, my sensitivity had fallen a little to the wayside.
But I also felt that I want my child to understand the positive and negative consequences of life in a manner that is somewhat controlled but progressive. What I mean is, I believe it would be unfair to shelter or protect her from every negative consequence in her young life. If I did, I feel I would not be supporting her or preparing her for her own independent reality.
If she had been on the vacation with us…
Had my young daughter wanted to participate in the game, I might have explained that it was mostly adults playing, and therefore, she had a high chance of being injured. I would have explained that she would have to accept the potential consequence prior to participating. I might have told her that she was too young to begin with. But if she was 9 years old, I definitely would have just explained the possibility of her getting hurt (and most likely not winning) and then allowed her to experience the outcome.
Was I unfair in my observations?
Was I too harsh? What is our level of responsibility as parents to shield the ugly of the world…or at least temper it?