Being in the mountains recently reminded me of just how important risk is.
Managed risk in childhood allows children to feel where the edge of safety is.
They learn to hear and listen to the voice within them and builds confidence in their ability to manage themselves.
Experiencing a sense of danger teaches care and respect.
A childhood devoid of this risk leads us into the teen years and beyond with little awareness of consequences.
Play constantly interupted by adults telling children not to do something out of fear that they may hurt themselves, leads to young adults who are not comfortable relying on their own ability to make wise decisions in tricky situations.
Assessing the risk before speaking means adults can respond rather than react.
Mostly I find that the risk is negligible or the consequences are manageable.
The experience is worth having.
Wet clothes, bumps and scrapes are all manageable and don't usually happen anyway.

Knowing the environment is an important part of this.
A late childhood spent mostly in the bush and near rivers means that I feel confident in these environments and can read a situation quickly.
And as the weather warms and the days grow longer, we are looking forward to being out in these wild places more.
If you want to know a place, you need to be in it a lot.


  1. Lovely post. You have identified a key cultural difference with my native US. Experiencing these boundaries- whats too high? too fast? etc. helps create people who don't need railings on every mountain and danger signs near every river. I believe this risk is a key reason Kiwis are so resilient, inventive and connected.

  2. Thanks for your comment Kim. I do think parent's confidence is being eroded here too. The more we inhabit "managed" spaces, the more we expect those external, imposed safety rules. The less we are outside in wild places, the more frightened we become of them.