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|Too Much of a Good Thing? - Page 3|
If climbing trees, having a boyfriend, wearing provocative clothing, and riding an all-terrain vehicle were ways the parents showed maturity and learned about limits and common sense when they were young, then they need to ask themselves what they're going to offer to their child to help the child experience these same life lessons. The solutions are always culturally determined, with people's values and context (rural, urban, suburban) reflected in which substitutes the child finds sufficiently robust to draw him or her away from problem behavior and toward prosocial expressions of a powerful identity. Alternately, for the anxious child who's burdened by fear, I encourage parents to model appropriate risk-taking and invite their child along on the adventure.
Helping parents look back and explore their own narratives challenges the need for excessive control of their child. The parent's role shifts from emphasizing protection to becoming a facilitator of experiences that build capacity, common sense, and positive relationships.
Parents come to see that not only are there consequences from exposure to risk, but there are risks to their children when there's no exposure.
Michael Ungar, Ph.D., is the author of seven books including Too Safe for Their Own Good: How Risk and Responsibility Help Teens Thrive and Strengths-Based Counseling with At-Risk Youth. He's a professor at the School of Social Work at Dalhousie University, where he directs the Resilience Research Centre (www.resilienceresearch.org). Contact: email@example.com. Letters to the Editor about this department may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.