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Don’t worry so much about what might happen as what might not happen.

Don’t worry so much about what might happen as what might not happen.

If we shelter our kids, we know what’s going to happen: nothing. If we don’t, we don’t.

I’m a big proponent of Let’s See What Happens. In work, in lifestyle and even with kids and playing and potentially scraping knees. Of course, within reason: I don’t mean Let’s See What Happens when the kids want to see what it’s like to run a meth lab. But when they’re climbing like little billy goats on the sand dunes and (probably-not-life-threatening) cliffs at the beach, I want them to figure out what’s dangerous, where they should pay more attention, what hurts.

It takes true effort, trust, and a fair dose of selflessness to let your boy climb on the sandstone cliffs without saying anything.

If we don’t let them climb the cliffs, we know the outcome: they won’t fall from the cliffs. If we allow them to experience it on their own, they might fall, they might not. We don’t know. But they’re going to experience it for themselves and learn to judge, decide, and learn on their own. They’re going to learn to learn “deeper” without a teacher. 

It’s not just falling out of the tree though. It’s friendships, difficult social situations, you know, life. If they don’t learn it on their own, they’re going to just be book smart. We want them to also be book smart, but they need to be street smart.

As we as adults do, they’re going to learn more through their own experience than what they learn from us telling them all the time what they should be learning. Gravity, for example, is not a theory. You will fall. It will hurt. You might break something. You want to test it out? Go right ahead. Just so you know I told you so … or didn’t tell you so.

If we stay on course, we'll get there. If we veer off, we might have fun.

If we stay on course, we’ll get there. If we veer off, we might learn something.

Dee reminded me in the comments below that in Finding Nemo, Dory told Nemo’s dad, “You can’t promise that you won’t let anything happen to him, because then, nothing will happen to him.”


  1. Dee

    So true. There was a line in Finding Nemo, when Dory said, you can’t promise that you won’t let anything happen to him, because then, nothing will happen to him.

    • Bradley

      Ooh, thanks for that, Dee! There are some nuggets of wisdom in Finding Nemo! I love it!

  2. Dana

    This is so true. My kids are 3 and 6, and I admit that I have a hard time letting them experience things on their own (or as much on their own as kids that young can do things!). It’ll be hard for me, but I know I need to keep this advice in mind for the future.

    Love the Nemo quote!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today. You all made my day!

    • Bradley

      I didn’t say it was easy and I also didn’t say that I manage to do it all the time. I find that kids can handle themselves often better than we can handle the handling of the kids … if that makes sense.

      Thanks for stopping by, Dana.

  3. cindydwyer

    I’m a firm believer that sometimes parents need to let their children make mistakes and suffer the consequences. Small mistakes have smaller consequences and if they learn from them they can prevent bigger mistakes later on.

    • Bradley

      Good point! Let them learn from the small ones and hopefully then they can learn to avoid the big ones. Thanks, Cindy.


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