Leaving aside the generally accepted physical dangers -- no dark alleys, candy from strangers or cell phones while driving -- what exactly is our responsibility?
Many educators and psychologists -- Wendy Mogel, author of "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee," being among the most prominent -- are encouraging parents to step back. Their over involvement is counterproductive, she claims. The Wall Street Journal abounds with stories of parents filling out college applications, going along on interviews and even post-college calling their children's bosses about raises and promotions. And then they wonder why their children move back home.
Starting with the Talmudic dictum to teach our children to swim, the Torah supports independence and greater degrees of mature and "adult" behavior.
And this training needs to start young. From very small infants, our children pick up their clues from our behavior. If they fall and scrape themselves and we react like it's a major trauma, so will they. If we treat it matter-of-factly, so will they. They will learn that falls and scratches and cuts and bruises are a part of life, to be accepted with minimal complaint. And even more importantly, they will learn that these 'injuries' are a small price to pay to learn a new skill or participate in a group game.
I went to Barnes & Noble to read reviews and a sample chapter of the Mogel book, and it looks to me like it might be a good resource for non-Jewish parents as well as Jewish. Click on the book cover to go to Barnes & Noble to read for yourself.
Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self Reliant Children