Being Nemo's Dad...parenting and Risk Management

Long ago a cop show was on TV called NYPD Blue, hubby and I watched it a lot and really enjoyed it. In one episode a character called Sipowicz and his life was pretty traumatic, lots of those close to him were killed, leaving him sole carer of his young son. The tragedies that surrounded him left him over cautious and in one episode we saw his anguish at having to let his son climb and use a high slide at a playground, on his own. It was a defining moment where Andy Sipowicz learned that you have to let go, or people cannot fulfil their potential. And that all hazards can be risk assessed and managed (more of that later).

For hubby and I it was a mixture of the funny and desperately sad. And we vowed to never become so protective of our daughter that she wouldn't be able to have the fun that goes with the odd risk. So during her toddler years we used the phrase "Remember Sipowicz" whenever we felt that we may be in danger of over protection......but wow it is hard! hard to see the small person that you adore doing something 'risky', going on the 'big' swing with no straps for the first time! Riding a bike, climbing a tree, horse riding etc etc (getting sweaty palms here just imagining it...

Fast forward.....................

So then when she was 3 we went and saw Finding Nemo. Aside from the fact that the scene in which the mother and all the eggs bar one are killed and eaten by a barracuda, leaving Nemo's Dad alone with one deformed egg, affected my sensitive daughter so much that she screamed and begged to leave the cinema, and is now scarred for life; we enjoyed the film.

And I realised that Marlin (Nemo's father) was a modern day Sipowicz. He too was over protective due to the tragic events that had befallen those he loved. So why was I in danger of being him? I've had a great life where most people I love died of old age (one with a glass of martini in her hand! now THAT is the way to go!) and I have a lovely daughter who is pretty, and clever.....so maybe that's it! I fall into the 'I'm too lucky, it can't stay this good, I deserve something bad to happen!' How ridiculous! but it's true. So now when my 10 year old starts jumping at her riding lessons, I mutter under my breath "don't be Marlin" because she needs to experience hazards, and if I don't let her I run the risk, like Marlin did, of driving her to bigger hazards than I can control.

Which brings me to Risk assessment. :-) (I can hear you yawning, yes you! you at the back!) any way we had a safety talk at work. We defined the difference between a HAZARD and a RISK.

A Hazard is something that could cause harm, and a risk is how likely that is to happen.

For example a tiger is a hazard, in a room uncaged the risk to you is HUGE but the same tiger, caged is barely a risk at all, the hazard is the same, the risk is managed.

So now I'm a parent that tries to risk manage WITHOUT turning into Sipowicz or Marlin!

Horse riding? learn at a good stable and wear a hat and back protector.

Swimming? Learn at a good swim school, and learn the hazards associated with open and cold water.

Not sure I'm there yet but one day, maybe when she's 35 I'll let her cross the road alone.....

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