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Don't Make My Mistake And Keep Young Kids Too Safe

Photograph by Twenty20

If you are a parent I am sure you have heard of the many dangers of trampolines. I know I have. This toddler's serious injury on one is a reminder that trampolines pose risks. But I bought one for my three children anyway.

And I'm not sorry.

My kids had been bugging me for years about getting one, and they bribed the hell out of me this spring. I caved a little and did some research. Then, knowing the risks, I caved all the way. By the time I'd read everything I could find, I felt comfortable enough to get one.

Honestly, I have seen kids get very hurt from supposedly far safer everyday things, like riding their bikes. Just the other day I was talking to a fellow mom who was telling me her son broke his sternum from falling on a carpeted step in her home while she was standing right there. It was the same child who broke his tibia a few months earlier by landing wrong off the monkey bars, while he was surrounded by adults and older kids.

While I don't believe trampolines are safe for really small children (I have two tweens and a teenager), I think it's OK—even healthy—to introduce kids to some things that may hurt them. I can't keep them in a padded room with a screen in their face for their entire childhood. They need to be outside playing. And if a trampoline is going to give them the fresh air and exercise they need, I am all for it.

And you know what? It's working. My children have not complained they were bored once since it was set up in the backyard. So far we are having the best summer ever.

And I want my kids to have fun.

Of course, I've educated them on how to be safe. They know the weight limit and realize they can't be on it if I am on a call or in the shower. When I think about some of the rusted out, crappy playgrounds and open fields where I used to play, it makes me catch my breath in a way that doesn't happen thinking about our trampoline, ensconsced with padding and nets.

If kids come over to play, I make sure to get their parents' permission before they are allowed to join in the jumping fun. And I go over (and enforce!) the rules every time.

The real danger is that we live in an era where we are all fearful, much more so than previous generations.

My point is: Kids can get hurt on anything, doing anything, just as adults can. I certainly don't need a trampoline to break a bone in my body and gash my head open. I've done both just by carrying the grocery bags into my house.

The real danger is that we live in an era where we are all fearful, much more so than previous generations. We're compelled (by fears and often by others) to constantly keep kids from dangerous situations. We cover every outlet, get gates for the stairs. We chase them around the house to make sure nothing too small goes in their mouths (especially if they have older sibling who can play with Legos and puzzles). We don't allow kids to have sugary drinks, we make sure they are home during nap time and, God forbid, we drop them off for a play date at a friend's house when we don't know the parents very well.

It took me too many years, but I'm ready for them to face a little danger, some risks—including known ones like trampolines.

Looking back to when my kids were much younger, I honestly wish I had loosened my grip just a little bit. It doesn't kill them to skip a nap or have some root beer at the birthday party. I did not need to sit on top of them every moment while they played outside when they were a bit older. In fact, I sent my oldest child to kindergarten and he had never peed in a public toilet alone. He was petrified those first few months, because I hovered too damn much.

It took me too many years, but I'm ready for them to face a little danger, some risks—including known ones like trampolines. I know I'm not alonge. I see trampolines in a lot of backyards, which tells me I'm not the only one who thinks their kids should find fun outside the four very comfortable walls too many are confined to these days.

It's the parents' job to teach kids how to respect and treat things that could hurt us. But that doesn't happen by sheltering them from these things.

So I say, if you've done your research and feel comfortable, get the trampoline. Let your kids jump. Let them fly high.

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