Protective and proud of it |

Protective and proud of it

One of my favorite things about family vacations is exploring new things together ” everything from the taste of oysters and hot sauce at a beachfront bistro to sailing through the air as we’re strapped together on a parasail.

On a recent trek in the desert it was the exploration of a well-known trail to a little-known watering hole just far enough down the path that most tourists wouldn’t venture. The clerk at the shop (aptly named Desert Adventures) assured us to just keep hiking. Our reward would be at the end of the trail.

Easy for him to say. He was comfortable in his air conditioned adventure shop while we forged a path in 100-degree heat. We dodged heat stroke by ducking in and out of the creek and resisted the temptation to turn back until finally we reached the Promised Land ” a cliffside waterfall cascading into a beautiful swimming pool surrounded by towering red rock and blue sky. We jumped in unison.

We had the place to ourselves for a few precious moments and then a group of twentysomething friends showed up and, with the confidence of youth and locals, strode to the top of the 20-foot cliff, puffed out their chests and dove off.

At this point an unlikely argument ensued. My husband and I often err on the side of caution but, seeing these kids leap from the cliff ” I wanted to join in. He, who at six-foot-three, could touch the bottom and raise one arm out of the water, deduced that the pool was no more than seven feet deep and looked at me with that are-you-out-of-your-mind look.

“They’re all doing it and no one’s broken his neck. It’s fine. Besides the kids want to jump, too, and we can’t be so anxious.”

“What’s wrong with being anxious about cliff diving in seven feet of water?”

“Nothing, except everyone else is doing it and they seem safe,” I reasoned.

“If your friend jumped off a cliff would you follow?” my husband asked, sounding an awful lot like my mother.

“Well, yes, if there was a deep, delicious pool of water waiting at the bottom.”

“That’s the point. It’s not deep.”

“Then why is everyone else jumping in?”

“Beer,” he said matter-of-factly.

I relented and backed my husband’s decision, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that we were being a wee bit overprotective ” something that pretty much defines our style of parenting.

Cliff diving aside, our approach to child-rearing has been straight-forward and simple: raise happy, healthy, wholesome kids. Yet, as uncomplicated as it sounds, we’ve hit our share of snags, especially from parents whose approach differs from ours. My husband and I may well be the last parents breathing who won’t let their children see PG-13 movies until they are actually 13 ” and even then we get the final say. We don’t watch South Park or CSI, we don’t Instant Message or visit Mom or Dad not home for a sleepover? Fuggetaboutit. In short, our kids are pretty sheltered.

But let’s face it: In this day and age when predators pose as teenagers on the Internet and somebody’s toothpaste might be used to make a bomb in an airplane lavatory, a little healthy precaution goes a long way.

We may be vigilant about protecting our kids, but we don’t have rules just for the sake of rules. We talk openly and honestly about everything from terrorism to kidnapping to drugs, not to mention who said what about whom in the lunchroom. Our kids are learning how to navigate their way into adulthood with our guidance and love. What’s more important, they know it.

And if we happen to keep them from breaking their neck while cliff diving in shallow water ” all the better.

Charla Belinski’s column appears in the Post Independent every other Sunday. Contact her at

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