Here's a Papua New Guinean tribe. They build their homes in trees. Beautiful, aren't they?
Now, imagine a Western parent with toddlers up there.
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I doubt there are many 'alternative' parenting books my wife hasn't read. I remember one, written by a mother, where the author brought up this very subject. She had consciously trained herself so as not to allow her fear guide her actions towards her son (I seem to remember he was around 5 years old). She would let her son assist her with food preparation, even cutting food with a sharp knife. She had taught herself to trust he would be fine. And he was: He would not cut himself as long as she trusted him.
One day, a friend of hers came to visit. As they went indoors, the author caught a glimpse of her son, standing on a chair in the kitchen with a sharp cutting knife in his hand, happily cutting away at some vegetables. The friend of the author saw this, too, drew a sharp breath, and before she even had the time to say anything, the author's son had cut his finger.
I have no idea of what the mechanisms involved are but I can readily attest to similar experiences in my family. Somehow, children feel the atmosphere surrounding them and act accordlingly. The entire Korowai tribe takes it for granted that children don't fall (or, at least, isn't afraid of this happening - which would tell of a strikingly different attitude towards death from the one prevalent in our society). Therefore, children don't fall.
Why are we so afraid? Do we need to? What good comes out of it? Do we actually create the dangers with our fear?
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