THE CAGED CHILDREN BY: Imam Sheikh Yusuf Abdulle

Friday February 13, 2015 - 19:48:48
Abdullahi Xagalle
THE CAGED CHILDREN: As I was driving by the New England Franklin Zoo some days ago with my wife and kids I saw the pictures of the animals and imagined how they are caged just to satisfy never ending man's need for pleasure. It quickly reminded me how the way we treat our kids in some ways , who are kept in homes and schools almost 24/7, is not that different from those captive animals , just the reason is different; love and protection in the case of our kids and pleasure and entertainment in the case of the animals.

The effect of caging the kids is that they do not have enough room to develop mentally and socially. They cannot take and manage risks. As soon as they try to explore we intervene by saying "do not do it, it is dangerous" instead of guiding them through managing and mitigating risks and some times letting them explore things with manageable risks to learn in their own way. I do understand that the security and the safety of the kids require to be watched and attended at all times but at what price?

I am not child psychologist but have been teaching kids for a long time and know a good deal about kids and their behavior; It is taking it's tall on kids in both long and near future in many different forms and ways. Few months back I was watching PBS news hour with Judy Woodruff. She was taking about too much parenting and over protection with Hanna Rosen a journalist and author regarding her article "The over protected kid" a cover story of the Atlantic Magazine; she was talking about how she used to play with other kids outside in the evenings and no one was guarding or watching them over.

This reminded me my childhood back in Somalia, I was free to play outside to be a kid and to come home and do my homework, go to my school and go to Dugsi. The best times were Thursdays, Fridays, and evenings of the full moon nights. That does not mean in any way that I was neglected. Quite the contrary; my mom loved me very much, disciplined me and made sure that I did what I was supposed to do. At the same time I learned how to take and manage risks and came home happy most of the time.

I have visited the city of Gothenburg in Sweden in 2007 and I have seen unsupervised kids playing outside in groups and almost no parent was watching over them, it reminded me my life as a child and appreciated the environment in which I grew up. I am not in any way suggesting to let our guards down as parents especially in the States, Canada, and UK but I am emphasizing how it is not the nature of the kids to be kept as pets or animals in the zoo (although that it's self is not right for animals).

What I am suggesting is to balance the protection and the freedom of the child to explore life. To let kids to be kids. To guide our kids to manage their lives. And the most important to develop a friendly relationship with our kids especially as they grow up into teenage and adolescence stages of their life, so they have the confidence to share with us their life experiences and how they see things.

Allah knows.

Yusuf Abdulle