If I Don’t Take Risks, How Will My Kid Learn to Love Adventure?

runningDo something every day that scares you. Isn’t that how the saying goes? We all know it’s easier said than done. But as a mother, scaring myself has somehow become my obsession of late.

I’m not a horror movie junkie or a thrill seeker by nature. I am, however, a mother in a society where we’re seeing an increasing number of warnings that today’s kids are being rendered helpless by their inability to take risks.

I don’t consider myself a helicopter parent, which is one of the major factors in creating a risk-averse generation. I am, however, risk-averse myself. And that’s a dangerous thing to role model for a child.

If I can’t do something that scares me, how is it that I tell my daughter that she should try new foods, walk farther ahead of me, climb astride a bike and wheel off on a big adventure?

How do I tell her to do as I say, not as I do?

Yes, I’ve done my fair share of terrifying things in my life — some wiser than others (a word to the wise: when someone calls your college dorm at 11 p.m. and says “we’re going out,” always ask where “out” is) — but most were in that life stage called teenagehood, when you’re supposed to try on new personalities on the regular. I tried on the bad girl suit, but the buttons would never closes over my chest, the bright and shiny G of my “good girl” outfit always peeking through.

And so at 18 I was already married and working a full-time job. At 20, I had a mortgage. At 22 (nearly 23) a child.

While my high school classmates were out hitting the bars, I was washing bottles. When they were hitting the open road, I was hitting the Sandra Boynton books.

I was settled.

Some would say stagnant.

I had to be. I had a child to feed, bills to pay, and I was raised with a healthy dose of fear that tomorrow everything you have worked for could disappear (small business owner’s daughter for the win), so you make hay while the sun shines.

Let me be clear: My daughter did not make me stop changing, reaching, or growing. It was my choice to be a younger mother, and it’s one I stand by. It was the right time for me in my life.

More to the point, I’ve always been an old soul. Having skipped the second grade, I was forced at 7 to act older to find acceptance with my peers, and I suppose that’s never really stopped. I’ve always strived to be seen as older, more mature than maybe I was.

In part because I chose this path and in part because of the person I’ve always been underneath, I’ve become increasingly resistant to change. Why try new things when the old work just fine? Why eat new foods when the comfort eats taste so darn good?

But this month, I did change things. I left my job of five years for another one.

So what? People change jobs all the time? True. But even now, I still work in a freelance capacity for the same newspaper where I interned at 16 (this in addition to the new job). I live in a town 10 minutes from the one in which I grew up. I’m wearing the same necklace I’ve been wearing since my husband bought it for me six years ago (albeit with a different chain … few things survive raising children intact).

For me, this was BIG. HUGE even.

I’d even venture to say it was one of the scariest things I’ve done in a very long time.

And you know what? It feels good on the other side. I don’t just like what I’m doing — I feel invigorated by everything fresh, new, and open to interpretation. I’m even, gasp, changing things!

Have you embarked on a big adventure lately? What made you take the leap?


Have you “liked” Inside Out Motherhood on Facebook yet?


Disclaimer: This post was written for Netflix to celebrate their new original show about big adventures in the great white somewhere — How to Train Your Dragon: Race to the Edge. Soaring beyond their home on the island of Berk in search of new dragons, Dragons: Race to the Edge introduces some of the most exciting dragons yet, each with its own amazing abilities — shock waves, cannon balls and fire blasts, just to name a few.

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