In the last couple of weeks all sorts horrible things have happend to someones child. The age doesn’t matter. Someones daughter was kidnapped in South America while on a rafting adventure. Someone else’s daughter ran off with her teacher to France. Then this week a little girl was abducted while she played with her friends in her tiny market town. All but the latter have come home safe if not sound. For poor little April and her family the nightmare is still very real.
As the mother of an outgoing 6 yr old I am in a bit of a quandary I don’t want to be a helicopter parent but I also don’t want my daughter to get in a car with a stranger or even someone who isn’t a stranger. I want my daughter to trust her teachers but not fall in love with them and run off with them. I want her to plan grand adventures and canoe down the Amazon. So how do I continue to let her be herself– fun, outgoing and trusting while keeping her safe?
I tried this morning to talk to her about going off with strangers. We’ve never had this conversation before because I’ve never wanted to scare her. It couldn’t be helped this morning, I was listing to Radio 4 and it was all they were talking about. So in my own very clumsy way I talked to her about never going off with someone she doesn’t know. Then I said actually she shouldn’t go off with anyone other than me or her dad. She then asked why she was allowed to be picked up from school by her friend Isabella’s mum. Eeeerm.… uuuuh… good question smarty pants! I told her that she’s only allowed to go with someone if we have arranged it beforehand. She’s never to go off with someone if they say I’m in trouble or hurt. She’s to find a teacher/policeman anyone to have them check on me. Well all I ended up doing was scaring the daylights out of her. She started to shake and told me she didn’t want to talk about it any more. Fair enough I didn’t want to talk about it either.
So what do you do? Do you ram home the stranger danger message? But what happens when it’s not a stranger? What happens when it’s a teacher? An adult that I’ve told her she can trust? How do you keep your children safe when everyone is a potential baddy? I don’t want my child to grow up afraid to play outside. I want her to roam the field and brook behind our house. To build dens and play hide and seek for hours and hours. I want her to be carefree. She’s only 6 and shouldn’t have to deal with these things. So I think I’m going to pray for the best. I’m going to think that people are good. That horrible things happen very rarely and that we can’t live our lives expecting the nightmare.
Am I being foolish?