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Trampoline Analogy

One day I was looking at a trampoline that had a net surrounding it and an analogy came to mind. You see in the olden days there were no nets around trampolines, which was the kind my kids used, now days all the trampolines come with these huge nets that surround the trampoline so that the kids have no chance of falling off. A problem arises when kids who have been protected by the net jump on my trampoline with no net. These kids who are used to the protection of a net go flying off the trampoline. In the beginning one of my kids flew off the un-netted trampoline but I was there to help them up and comfort them and they now know to be careful, they know their limits. Where as the other kids had no limits established because the nets held them in, even if they flew into the nets.

This brings me to my thoughts on raising kids, not that we should have no safety nets on trampolines, but that we as parents have become too protective in general. We put up these huge nets around our children to protect them from the “evil” world. We don’t allow them to fall off the trampoline in the beginning when we are around to help. So when they get older and there are no more safety nets, because they are out of the home or too old to listen to their parents (not that I was ever that old), they fall off, hard. They are grown and so it is harder to teach them.

I’m not advocating for no nets because there needs to be nets that come down slowly as a child grows but we as parents need to allow them to make mistakes when they are younger. We need to put aside our own fears and let our children grow and learn with us close by to protect them so that when they are on their own they know their limits.

Ted Video on allowing kids to have space. 5 dangerous things kids should do.


  1. Well, you know I completely agree with this!! Nicely said!

  2. This is an interesting topic. Personally, I had almost no boundaries as a kid, because my mom died when I was young and dad was out of the picture. I tend to think it made me a better person in the long run, but I did have to go through a lot of suffering (mostly self inflicted) as a teenager.

    With my own kids, I would like to have them earn the maturity and wisdom that comes from having few hard boundaries, but it's a tough call exactly how far to go, because I don't want them to get hurt. Or to make any mistakes that are too grave to come back from.

    Still, great topic.

  3. I think this is a neat idea and I can see alot of truth to it. I think it is important to be a big part of the boundries, instead of letting other people or systems be the boundries. For example, like you and your kids, you helped them at the begining so they wouldn't fall, YOU were the one helping them learn. When sometimes we as parents will use "nets" to be a teacher but could still be in the house or something, and not pay attention, relying on the fact that the net will keep them safe so you don't have to. This idea makes me think of like media blockers, or those sort of things- hoping that they will protect your kids, but you still never really know how well it is teaching them. But then if they go to a friends house and things arent blocked, what will think of it, or will they have their own wisdom to understand what's going on if something bad comes on. Not saying that media blockers are bad, and shouldn't be used, but I think it is so important for the parents to be right along side teaching instead of just souly relying on other things to protect the children.
    Not to make this comment super long, but it also remindes me of anology I heard once in high school. Parents can go about it two ways: 1. hold our children's hand tight from birth and stay close by, and then when they get older slowly loosen the grip and eventually let go, letting them carry on and be an adult, or 2. (which some/maybe most do, but could cause more problems) we don't really hold on, letting them do whatever when they're young, but when they get into teens we want to hold on so tight we drive them crazy and maybe cause rebellion, but don't understand why there is rebellion and never want to let go, possibly pushing their children away, and to a not so fun path- like you trampoline, they fall off and hard.
    Anyway, I think this is a great idea, I love thinking and analyzing the interworkings of parenthood and all that, neat/interesting stuff! :)

  4. You have all made some great comments. I hope others will follow suit and we can have a great discussion on parenting. Thanks for your comments.

  5. Interesting post and analogy. When I young there were virtually no boundaries - I could go out all day, ride on public transport, swim in the sea, and not have to come home until tea time. Now I look at my niece and nephew and they can't do anything on there own. I understand that parents want to protect their children from harm but what kind of adults will they become if they don't experience any hazards in life?

  6. Great analogy Josh. I like this idea and I completely agree with the comment by Whitney and Michael. The best people to be leading and guiding kids are their parents. That statement does put a lot of pressure on parents though. I think that's partly why some parents do put up a lot of nets but if we just have a bunch of boundaries without any scaffolding or teaching then we're doing our kids a disservice.

  7. The world is a strange place. My oldest child was pushed through elementary school..... having never completed his assignments. He was smart and they did not want him to be bored by holding him back. I was the mother stamping her feet and demanding that her child not be promoted to the next grade. I actually got into the face of a school principal and shouted that he was teaching my child that his actions (or lack thereof) has no consequence. The man was appalled. Tending to get very sarcastic when I am angry, I tried to dumb it down for him and asked if he thought an employer was going to pay wages to my child if he failed to do the job he was being paid for.

    I am sad to report that no one listened to me and my son grew up to be be a leach on society. He was indeed smart. Smart enough to work the system and manage to get by without ever becoming a productive member of society. My son died almost two years ago at the age of 39. He was a heroin addict. He died of Aids related complications. I share the burden of blame for his life with society at large and just share this to say that I wish I had known then what I know now. I would have fought harder with that elementary school principal. That and many other things ...... so many other things.

  8. Hi! Very pleased to find your site through the A to Z challenge! I'm really looking forward to your posts. And as a parent to be, I thank you for the analogy.


  9. I guess it's difficult to know where to draw the line. There were some terrible H&S issues in the past which have brought about all these safety nets. Then people cry Nanny state and yet if anything went wrong in their lives due to negligence/ lack of H&S they'd be the first to shout and litigate.
    That's why i wrote my poem nanny's in a state:

    However, I agree with you that society has become over-protective in sometimes ludicrous and incomprehensible ways. A conundrum for sure.


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