Guest Post: Danger Sells

Hi Folks — Here’s a little essay reminding us that the push to sell ever more things dovetails with the push for us to fear ever more  new things. It comes to us from Kassandra  Brown, who says she “supports women in transition and conscious parenting.” – L

Danger Sells

The biggest backlash to Free-Range Kids is safety. Lenore talks about the perception of danger induced by news and media. The media offers us an onslaught of information about how unsafe the world is, how unsafe our children are, and how much they need protection.  I won’t replicate her information here. Instead, I’ll introduce another factor in the danger debate.

Danger is big business. We are presented with devices and services to buy in order to make our children safer. If we feel like there is danger out there, we are more likely to buy things to make us feel safer in here. We are less likely to think for ourselves, take our time making decisions, or weigh the choices. We are more likely to stick with the herd. Creating a perception of danger is amazingly effective crowd control.

What can we do?  Well, what if we just admitted the world isn’t safe? That it’s mysterious? Amazing? Tragic? Beautiful?  Because it is. Life is never completely without some chance of defeat, or even death. Life is not safe. Our desire to make it so means that we create more numbing-out, less honesty — and a lot more trash.

What if we admitted we can’t control everything our children experience? Children are people too. We cannot shield them from every upset, every hurt. Their hearts may break. They may suffer. But we can offer them loving presence. We can offer them the role model of ourselves living full, vibrant lives. We can get back up and try again after we fail.  We can let them see us risking our own safety by being emotionally vulnerable and honest.

What if we admitted that we’re being manipulated by marketing, government, and propaganda? When our economy is based on continuous expansion, the government is not neutral. It wants us to buy the new product in order to grow the economy. And if it’s supposed to make us safer, then government agencies can feel like good parents protecting their children.

I invite you to be brave. Take the time to know your own heart and listen to your own deep yearnings. Turn off the TV. Look yourself in the eye and then meet the eyes of your child. Step into the realm of real human connection. It’s messy. But you’ll feel more alive than you do watching the best reality TV show. — Kassandra Brown

22 Responses

  1. Wonderfully well said! This is how I have chosen to live with my children (and embraced in my own life as well) and it has been an amazing journey. Live intentionally, make reasonable choices while shedding the fear, and love life as it comes! Its not always easy, but its worth it!

  2. I jumped for joy when I read this… BEAUTIFUL and powerful. I want to print it out and carry it with me so I can read it to any parent who comes at me with “what if’s”. The danger of keeping your kids in a bubble is much more REAL than the perceived danger of potential “what if’s” that will likely never come true.

  3. Very true. My 19-year-old drove his roommate’s car from Ohio to Maryland and back in a little over 72 hours. We worried about it, but there isn’t much you can do. Parenting is all about letting go…. He made it safely home🙂

  4. I read this after returning from a great beach vacation (drippy castles, boogie boarding, paddle ball) that was media-free.
    The only “danger” interuption was my neighbor texting about the apparent shark sightings near our beach that were featured on the local news.I just texted her back to watch out for E.coli in her salad and we can consider ourselves equal.

  5. It seems absurd for the media and advertisers, and the government too, to constantly lecture citizens about the safety of their children, all the while being so eager to send them to foreign wars to be killed by the thousands. Congress will send you to jail for leaving your ten year-old in the car for five minutes, but think nothing of appropriating billions for war in some gnat of a country and sending your kids to more-than-average danger.

    When it comes to Rupert Murdoch and a thousand danger-minimizing product shysters out there, I think we all have to just say NO! Like Nancy Reagan said.

  6. Great post, Kassandra, with five great replies, each one better than the next. GREAT one, JC.

  7. JC–Touche and Amen!

  8. Hallelujah, JC.

  9. JC Greene, such a great (and sad) point!

    What an awesome post! When I was a new parent, I was overwhelmed by all of the safety products out there. Do I need a toilet lock, stove guard, baby mirror in the car, etc., etc., etc., in order to be a good mom?

    I have learned that the answer is no. To be a good mom, I need to be there for my kids and take reasonable measures for their safety, but safety does not need to be an obsession. Living our lives, in the moment and in the long-term, should be our focus. We should be doing what’s right for us. Overprotectiveness is stressful and does no one any true benefit.

  10. Sarah

    I couldn’t agree more. Sales create fear and attack insecurities. The message is that you have to buy their product in order to be a good mom.

    However I think the opposite is true. A bad mom will hand down her fear/insecurity/obsession to her child.

  11. That advice in the last paragraph “Turn off the TV” is one of the keys to cutting back on fear. If there hasn’t been any major crime lately, the news producers air a report on some terrible event in Florida or Texas. They love brush fires and car chases–county budget discussions are more important, but less visual. My wife and I see promos for various so-called “reality” shows and wonder: who watches this nonsense? The Romans had “Bread and Circuses”; today’s US has “Junk Food and Trash TV”,

  12. This is a great challenge to set before the American people. All of us need to grab life by the horns ounce again and take some chances. I have this conversation often. Life is not completely safe but you don’t want it to be. Life is an adventure. A little risk makes something worth doing. When I watch my grandson take a calculated risk to try something new like doing a flip into a pool, climb a little higher in a treatment and succeed the expression ostensibly satisfaction on his face is priceless. We adults needed to reclaim that joy and model it for our children.

  13. A key phrase here is “Turn off your TV.” We are not TV watchers. I find, overall, that the more a person watches TV, the more they believe what they see on it is “real” and the more they buy into the media hype that the world is a nasty, dangerous place. TV makes the world very small – if you base your experiences and perceptions on what you encounter when you are out and about, you’ll realize how safe and normal the world is. If you base them on the selected stories that are blasted at you from 3,000 miles away, well, that puts a lot of tragedy in your backyard that has no business being there. Likewise, I find the families of police officers tend to have a skewed view of how dangerous the world is. I have several friends who constantly chastise me about what I let my kids do because their husband who is a police officer sees predators and molesters “all the time” and they are “everywhere.”

  14. Publish this broadly.

  15. Bought a new car a while back, came with free six month subscription to OnStar. After directing me to drive through a farm field on my way home from dealership, I turned it off and never gave it another thought the whole six months and I did some traveling and encountered problems, all handled by experience and the kindness of strangers. I still recall the representative’s words when I called to cancel it at the end of the six months, “Now you understand, sir, if you get into ANY trouble, WE won’t be able to help you.” I confidently responded, “YES.”

  16. Fear sells, so true. How many ads are nothing more than “buy this product, or your baby will DIE!”?

  17. Our family is TV-free, so we have time to do all kinds of things. It’s good.

    This column is so true. Fear sells. . . and not only in the marketplace but in politics as well. Who was it, the president or the president’s advisor, who said “never let a good emergency go to waste?” Something along those lines; at any rate there’s a book by Naomi Wolf on how politicians build up power by beating the alarm drums.

  18. The comments above are awesome.. I drove my kiddo in an expedition truck from LA to South America and back again over a 15 month period, she missed a year of school but we taught her on the road and she had an education that you simply cannot get in a classroom – she will certainly never forget that year. It was the most eye opening experience ever and she is much more free willed and independent than any of her friends and she has many years wiser than her peers and in a lot of ways more wise than her peers parents. She knows first hand the world is far more friendly than the TV would have you believe. Meeting people who have nothing in the middle of nowhere were so happy, being part of our story made their day, for some their lives. So many people offered us rooms to stay, people we could barely communicate with and never did we have an issue with any of them. Breaking down 500 miles from the nearest town really teaches you how to be resourceful, how to take chances and more importantly how to take a deep breath, have a good laugh and face a problem head on. The thing she remembers the most is that we had a small color printer with us and she would take pictures of people and print them, for some it was the only photograph they had ever had. Others would get the whole family together for a family portrait! You cannot really express how grateful these people were and that affects us as much as it affected them.

    Some people think we are reckless, others think we live on the edge, most think we are different but I think our daughter is growing up to be a wonderful person who really is really grateful for the life she has and understands real compassion and empathy, she also understands bad things can happen and sometimes you are the cause of those bad things. It really annoys me to see how some parents hover over their kids to fix things that aren’t even problems, most seem to do it out of their own bordem because they have nothing better to do. These kids are going to grow up in to self absorbed monsters who have no concept of limits or the world around them, all they understand is mommy/daddy can fix everything.

    Since we got back a few years ago we no longer watch TV and none of us miss it at all. I guess I should say we don’t have sat/cable, we do physically have a TV and we do watch netflix on a selective basis but that’s all on our terms which is a much better way to watch TV.

  19. .”I find, overall, that the more a person watches TV, the more they believe what they see on it is “real” and the more they buy into the media hype that the world is a nasty, dangerous place.”

    I don’t know if this statement really holds up. Are you just talking about the news? Television is as valid a medium for storytelling as anything else. Anecdotally, I can watch Breaking Bad without worrying that my child is going to walk into the line of fire of meth dealers. I can watch Mad Men without buying into the thought that my husband is having numerous affairs. I can watch The Good Wife, Parenthood, and Parks and Recreation without…..well, you get the point. I can’t be the only one.

    All TV watchers are not slugs who don’t “have time to do all kinds of things”. Many of us are active, engaged in life, and contribute to society – in short, we do everything you do, but take advantage of compelling television as well.

  20. The comment from the family who took their daughter on a 15-month “trek” reminded me of Tom, a fellow member of the railway museum. Many years ago a fellow railfan organized train trips to Empalme, Mexico, where all sorts of rail rarities could be found. He went on two of these trips and each time took one of his daughters. They learned geography in the real world, seeing small towns where pigs and goats wander about and people were still using donkey carts. They found that not everyone lives in a tidy suburb with two-car garages.

  21. Are you completely delusional? What do you think the percentage of people turned on by kids is? At least 1%. What is that in a city of 8 million people? Look at any sexual predator map under Megans Law and you are delusional if you think there is no danger. It happend in the town I grew up in the catholic church, the town over in a catholic school.

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