Sunday, May 27, 2012

Obstacles to a Dangerous Childhood

There are a large number of potential obstacles standing between every child and the dangerous childhood that he needs and deserves. Because of the level of control which parents can exert over a child's life, we should look at parental obstacles first:

  • Incompetence, low intelligence, maliciousness, and indifference
  • These characteristics are commonly agreed upon as being signs of poor parents and bad parenting.
  • Overindulgence
  • Overindulgence by parents within affluent classes and in affluent societies is often popularly seen as a sign of good parenting, although this is often the opposite of the truth in many ways (PDF pp 8-11).
  • Overprotectiveness
  • Overprotectiveness can often be seen in conjunction with overindulgence, but not necessarily. The two types of dysfunctional parenting should generally be seen as distinct.

Malicious, indifferent, and incompetent parents are apt to immerse the child inside an impoverished and unhappy environment.

Overindulgent parents are likely to cause children to focus upon the outward signs of success at the expense of development of the inner strengths required to achieve that sucess.

Overprotective parents tend to keep children from testing themselves against dangers and challenges that naturally arise in the course of daily life. As a result, children fail to move through necessary "rites of passage" which naturally lead them from childhood to adulthood.

Here is a quote from Conn Iggulden, author of The Dangerous Book for Boys:
One of the tragedies of the ­increasingly litigious ­society we live in is that schools now treat ­our ­children as though they are made of china.

Teachers worry that they will be sued if they take pupils on school trips where they can enjoy risk and adventure, ­climbing rocks and trees.

They are concerned that bruising sports, such as rugby, where black eyes and ­broken bones are par for the course, could expose them to ­litigation. They even ­hesitate over traditional games, such as tag and bulldog. _Conn Iggulden

What he says about schools is doubly true for homes. Parents must give children a rational exposure to danger and rites of passage, so that the children will not turn to destructive behaviours out of a desperate and unfulfilled need for risk.

Dangers lie all around us, and within ourselves as well. Failing to recognise them, failing to confront them, failing to learn to deal with them -- these failures have their roots in dysfunctional upbringings.

But dangerous children -- who have experienced a dangerous childhood in the best sense of the word -- understand danger very well, and have learned to devise a large number of ways to deal with a wide range of dangers.

That is what a dangerous child curriculum and a dangerous child upbringing is all about.

The ideas of danger introduced by Conn and Hall Iggulden and by Gever Tulley, are important starting points for modern parents -- who are likely to have been somewhat overindulged and overprotected themselves, and in danger of doing the same to their own children. A truly dangerous childhood will require such simple introductions to risk taking to be but springboards into greater and more sophisticated dangers, requiring greater and greater levels of expertise and competence.

A dangerous childhood leads to a positive, constructive, and productive adulthood. But the actual path has to be laid down by each dangerous child on his own, based upon a certain amount of guidance and preparation.

Because the end result of a dangerous child upbringing and education is essentially uncontrolled -- wide open and unpredictable -- it is seen as a threat by status quo educators, politicians, lawyers, journalists, and other vested interests in the modern dysfunction.

It is never too late for a dangerous childhood. But once the concept is grasped, it is better to begin sooner rather than later.

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