Parenting can be a delicate subject. Mothers, especially, don’t take criticism lightly.
I felt compelled to write this post because my friend has been complaining about friends and family members chastising her for allowing her son to play with objects he finds on the lawn, like pebbles, branches, and flowers. He’ll occasionally put one of these things in his mouth just to see what it tastes like. To me, this is perfectly normal. Children naturally want to explore their environment. Their surroundings are exciting and amazing. My friend thinks so too, and she encourages her child to explore. But whenever she does, there’s always someone around who thinks she’s endangering her child.
I think that mothers stifle their children’s curiosity and growth by being too overprotective. I’m not against being cautious, but I worry about teaching children to see dangers where none exists. It represses the natural sense of wonder in children. When parents do this, they inhibit their children’s development by stripping them of their natural delight in exploration and risk taking. They teach children that life is something to be avoided instead of something to be lived and enjoyed.
John Bradshaw, the author of Homecoming, says that wonder and curiosity are crucial for normal growth and adaptation. Curiosity leads infants to discover their noses, hands, and toes, the first step in acquiring knowledge of the world and the nuts and bolts of survival.
I think that one of the most destructive things parents can do is to rob their children of their natural sense of wonder and teach them to see danger everywhere. The happiest people I know still possess the same sense of wonder they had as children. Wonder and curiosity are the energies that move us forward. Both Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein had a childlike wonder of the world. Everything in it excited their curiosity and interest and lead Darwin to postulate the theory of natural selection and Einstein to develop the general theory of relativity.