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May 9, 2011

Parents: What do your children mean to you?

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I am visiting Plymouth University on Friday 13th May to talk to nearly qualified teachers about e-Safety and Safeguarding. I would love some quotes (to include in my presentation) from parents to illustrate just how important children are to their parents. Since becoming a parent myself, I certainly have a deeper understanding of the emotions involved in parenting and I know just how precious these little people are.

What I’m trying to say is that before I was a parent, I don’t think I totally understood how precious children were to their parents. I don’t know if this is normal, a man thing or just a lack of emotional intelligence on my behalf but it took becoming a parent myself to fully understand this! If you have a minute, please could you add a comment which states how important your child’s safety is to you and any worries or concerns you have about this modern world. If you do comment, I may use your comment as part of a quote but I will not use your name.

Thanks

11 Comments

  1.   Mrs Duxbury — May 11, 2011 @ 8:30 pm    Reply

    I once read that parenting was the most important job we will ever do. My love for my two children is immeasurable and the desire to protect them from all dangers from falling out of a tree to surfing the internet safely is paramount to me.

    Steve Biddulph says that ‘ Every child and every parent is unique so parenting must be an art rather than a science – and like artists we as parents are constantly learning….’ That is what I try to do each and every day – learn and strive to remain aware of the omnipresent influences of electronic media in my two beautiful precious children’s lives and lessen the gap in the ‘digital – divide’. There is always a worry about they are exposed to in a technology rich environment and in the same way I consider who I leave my children with, I continue in my quest to ensure my children are safe and educated in the company they keep and the content they are exposed to in the virtual world; equipping them with the same skills that I would when encouraging them to say climb a tree …”You know it can be dangerous, you know how to keep safe you know where you can and cannot go….. now go and have fun, learn and explore and grow.”

    Cherise Duxbury

  2.   Maggie — May 11, 2011 @ 7:24 am    Reply

    Sadly I don’t have children of my own – and I often wonder if that would change my views on parenting etc!

    However, as a primary Headteacher, I have responsibilities and the awesome opportunities to touch 150+ children’s lives and yes, I do want to wrap them up in cotton wool, ensure they have an innocent childhood, are safe and loved.

    But I often use the phrase “tough love” …. The world we live in is a tough place – we need to prepare children and give them some life tools to cope – I want them to have the fun I had as a child and learn to take risks – have confidence – have an opinion – experience and learn from pain – physical and emotional etc etc, – that’s the “tough” bit!

    This “tough” stuff, however, is experienced from a safe and secure base of “love” – they know they are loved and cared for – and so, I hope, feel able to step out and take risks – knowing that we are there to discuss, guide, encourage etc and are there in the good and in the not so good times!

    This maybe sounds trite, but they are so very precious, yes, but it’s about giving them wings and letting them fly! Quietly
    worrying as you watch them soar! When they fall, you’re there to catch them…and share their learning. When they reach the heights, you celebrate!

    Would I change my view as a parent – probably! However, I hope not!

    But

  3.   Dughall McCormick — May 11, 2011 @ 12:05 am    Reply

    A really tricky one and it has really made me think.

    I was born in 1967 so grew up in the 1970s and 1980s. How much danger was I in as a child? How much was I exposed to? Sure, there was less traffic on the road, the Internet didn’t exist, telly had 3 channels and stopped at 11.30pm. However, I don’t think there were fewer paedophiles or nasty people around. I don’t think that I was in any less danger walking to the shop aged 11 than my daughter is now. I took my freedom for granted. We lived in a village until I was 10 and I can remember in school holidays going out into the countryside after breakfast and not returning until tea time. No mobile phones, just trusted to come back eventually. I moved to a town aged 10 and my world of experience expanded exponentially. I remember engaging in incredibly risky (and exciting) activities that I have survived. Were my parents right to afford me such liberty? Have I just been lucky to still be alive? I don’t know the answers. However, I do believe that I learnt an enormous amount during those days of freedom. I learnt to be self-reliant. I learnt the point at which a fire starts to get out of control. I learnt that not all adults are benign. And much more. I am convinced that those days and experiences have made me what I am now.

    So. Now I am a parent. Like Jan, I still vividly remember the day I looked my daughter in the eye and my son’s first night that he spent asleep on my chest. I, like other parents, want only the best for them. However, and here comes the possibly controversial bit… I want my children to get hurt. I want them to get hurt a *bit*. Just enough for the ‘hurt’ to help them to know better next time. Now, I could *tell* them about all the things that might hurt them. I could shield them from those things and not let them do things that might expose them to the risk of pain and hurt but I know from my own experience that the *actual* pain, rather than the warning, is where my learning lay. Bring it on, I say! I want my daughter to have some horrible boyfriends now or the next year or two. I want her to get hurt by them now and learn the pitfalls sooner rather than later (when the pain or consequences might be so much worse). I have encouraged my children to play with matches, to poke the fire, to climb the tree, to use the big kitchen knife. My kids can go out into the fields after breakfast and come back at tea time (although we have mobile phones now). They do go to the shop alone. They have cut themselves, they have burnt their fingers. They also have some wisdom as a consequence.

    Don’t get me wrong, it pains me. I would never forgive myself if anything happened, but then it would pain me more to see them grow up risk-averse and unambitious. I’m not saying that our way is the only way and that other approaches *would* lead to risk-averseness etc, but it is what we’ve chosen.

    The media has a lot to answer for with high-profile publicity highlighting the risks of walking down the street to online grooming etc. It has helped create a society in which parents are judged irresponsible and reprimanded by bystanders if their children are in a different aisle in the supermarket (I’ve been there). You can only be a good parent if you prove it by ensuring you child is as safe as possible all the time. Don’t get me started on ball-pools and soft-play centres…

    Please don’t think of me as utterly liberal either. We have always discussed risks with our children and done endless ‘what would happen if…’ scenarios. We want our children to be aware of risks but also at liberty to take them.

    All this and not a mention of e-safety. Well, my views are similar. We need to educate, raise awareness of risk, accept that things will probably happen, hope that they won’t be *too* bad and use them as learning opportunities. My children use technology with incredible deftness and liberty but they do so in shared spaces in our house and they are aware (in an age-appropriate way) that there is a risk involved. They also know that there is a degree of trust that things they *might* see, we can talk about. I do check their browsing history and online activity and trust that we are open enough that issues (yet to arise) will be dealt with appropriately. Do I switch the internet off on their devices? No, in the same way I don’t stop them going out.

    I thank my parents for my childhood liberty. I wonder if my own children will do the same for me.

    Finally, please watch this TED Talk by Gever Tulley. It says it all.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/gever_tulley_on_5_dangerous_things_for_kids.html

  4.   Pete — May 10, 2011 @ 10:52 pm    Reply

    My boy is the “apple of my pie” as he puts him. I am investing in his future safety by letting him take risks now, when I can still scoop him up and kiss him better.

    I want him to know that the world is full of good people doing nice things. That’s reality. He can learn about the bad stuff when he is old enough not to make his world shrink.

  5.   Susan Gritti — May 10, 2011 @ 7:38 am    Reply

    The love I feel for my children has grown with each day and I would protect them in ANY way I could; I am not a smushy-mushy, clingy parent and have encouraged my children (now 21 and 17) to become independent, make their own decisions and be responsible in their choces.
    There is no training for any of this, there are no rules to follow in order to ‘get it right’ and it is a really scary thing but the responsibility that came with having other human beings dependent on ME helped me make those rules in order to protect them.
    There ARE dangers in the modern world but on the plus side these are well-publicised and there is so much more awareness than when I was growing up. Things are not brushed under the carpet as they were and there are support networks available to children as they were not for me in experiencing sexual abuse as a child.
    Anthing done to raise awareness of ANY danger to children can only be a good thing -if it is done without being an alarmist or scaremongering and is done in a sensible and resposible way.

  6.   Jan Pringle — May 10, 2011 @ 6:55 am    Reply

    I’ve always been a peacemaker by incident. The sort to try to negotiate and compromise, to offer the hand of forgiveness rather than seek revenge. But the instant my first child was placed into my arms and I looked into his eyes, which even at that age seemed to me to speak of his complete trust in and reliance on me, I realised that I would fight to the death anyone who tried to harm him.
    Suddenly, the evils in the world become not just abstract threats but deeply personal.

  7.   Philippa — May 9, 2011 @ 11:30 pm    Reply

    My kids mean the world to me. If they go on a sleepover and I awake to a silent house (in my own time rather than woken by them!) it just feels strange. Sure, I love a lie in, but the house feels weird just because they are not there. I want them to have the world, and I would do anything for them, to give them a great life and I guess to protect them too. But I am worried that they will grow up in a world that will be so different to that of my childhood – not because I think that this new world is any worse, but that is is just so complicated, and there is more fear in education. I am worried that the pressures of curriculum – especially if we revert to 3Rs -will not skill them up for a rapidly changing world. I want them to learn to question and challenge, to share and collaborate, to think and reflect, to solve problems and seek alternatives – in short to develop creative attributes that will serve them well in the future. In this technological age, I want them to be able to approach the internet and other technology with confidence – exploring, investigating, negotiating their way through it. I don’t want them to be held back from real life sources of news and knowledge and ideas because of unproven fears that ‘it’s not safe’. Of course I want reasonable safety measures in place – but I don’t want them to stifle or limit. If they do not learn to embrace new technology at school – and learn how to be responsible with it – then how on earth will they manage in the world they will grow up in?

  8.   Kevin Mulryne — May 9, 2011 @ 11:24 pm    Reply

    My children’s safety is the single most important thing in my life. I sometimes find myself lying awake at night unable to sleep because I am worrying about them. I try to talk openly about online safety with the older ones and I have installed securityf software on their computers but it doesn’t really help my state of mind! I have removed content from my website and YouTube featuring my elder son because his friends found it and started to tease him. However, as a budding photographer, he now has his own site under his own name.

  9.   Mary Jo Bell — May 9, 2011 @ 11:16 pm    Reply

    As a parent of two adult “children”, I can honestly say that I never stop being concerned for their safety. My 24 year old daughter lives in Sendai, Japan and I will never forget March 11th as long as I live. I felt helpless as pictures of the earthquake and tsunami appeared on TV. Luckily my daughter was safe, but the following days were dreadful. She had no water, electricity and very little food.
    Children are precious and as parents it is natural for us to worry about them. The internet, while being a wonderful asset in our lives, holds many dangers for young children and for adults. Children should be made aware of these dangers and should be carefully monitored while online. Parents should be aware of the dangers and should know what sites their children are on.

  10.   Jackie Schneider — May 9, 2011 @ 11:10 pm    Reply

    I am a parent of 3 teenagers as well as a teacher. Whilst I think that it is important that we teach children good online habits and make sure they understand how to keep themselves safe I think it is important we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water! Too many school and local authorities behave in a totally disproportionate manner in shutting down opportunities for my children to use new technology in schools. We do our children a grave disservice if we allow fear to block access. Whilst schools need to be sensitive I find the ridiculous fear of photographing children to be quite maddening. I wish schools spent as much time and energy worrying about the things that worry children such as – horrible toilets which feel unsafe,segregation between packed lunch and school dinner kids, sense of being a failure if they can’t choose own reading book, injustice at mass punishment – not my worries but concerns that kids express about everyday school life. Remember : a happy child learns and flourishes, a miserable one hopes for survival.

  11.   Antony Mitchell — May 9, 2011 @ 11:05 pm    Reply

    As a parent, I am very keen on protecting my children (11 / 7) from the harmful aspects of the Internet, just as I would be as I protect them from the dangers of everyday life. I would not let them play in a large playground full of an array of children and adults I do not know – however, in a different light I feel that they need to have a certain knowledge of the dangers of the world – allowing some flexibility to allow them to explore the Internet (including social networking) allows them to see the good and the bad of all aspects of life – Of which the Internet is no different. Some parents in my class will not allow children any Internet access – I am a year 5 teacher. That stifles the learning of the children and will not let them learn the skills that they will undoubtedly require in their adulthood. Getting the balance is just so important. Educating them is paramount. Explaining the dangers – and to some extent, telling them “how it is” is how I take to the task with my children. Explain the dangers and allow them to take control and make their own decisions – but with the understanding and knowledge of the pitfalls that encompass them, both in the physical and cyber worlds we now live in.

    Long comment I know, Waffle over. Job Done. Hope it helps!

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