The book Protecting the Gift Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane), is by author Gavin De Becker. It is a follow-up to his prior book The Gift of Fear. In that book, De Becker told adults how to keep themselves safe in today’s world. This newer book is addressed to parents and offers much advice about protecting children. De Becker knows what he is speaking about; when the book was published he was running a company that provided protective advice to many famous people.
DeBecker advises parents to trust their intuition about a situation and avoid engaging in denial about a situation’s danger. He tells parents not to rationalize, justify, minimize, make excuses or refuse to believe the signs of trouble. De Becker suggests that parents minimize their time spent worrying about risks to their children. If a person is worrying about something happening in the future, it probably isn’t going to happen. He points out that when a dreaded situation is actually about to happen, people don’t worry; they take action. Fear is a response to what is about to happen. Worry is something in your imagination or memory. Thus, trusting your intuition is the opposite of living in fear.
DeBecker describes signals that indicate danger. He calls them forced teaming, charm and niceness. This includes offering too many details, typecasting, loan-sharking, an unsolicited promise and discounting the word ”No”. Some of these are just what they sound like. The others need to be read about to see what he is talking about.
De Becker looks at some rules that parents tell their children. For example, he discusses “Never talk to strangers”. He makes the point that when you tell your child what to do in your absence or that doing so will keep him/her safe, you are sharing a parental duty with the least qualified person available. De Becker says that if a child is lost in public, the ability to talk to strangers is the single greatest asset they could have. For him the bottom line is not strangers, it is strangeness. Therefore, something not seeming right is what triggers our intuition and this is what he advises us to trust.
Advice for Parents
De Becker offers advice to parents about how to deal with potential danger from babysitters and nannies. He advises parents to get to know the parents in the home where their children want a sleepover. He gives advice to parents on how they should educate their children about sexual predators.
De Becker suggests to parents that they be assertive in assuring themselves about the trustworthiness of all of the adults in their child’s school. He talks about protecting a teenage daughter from those who won’t respect her rights and protecting sons from guns and from friends from troubled families.
I hope that this information has been helpful to you with some suggestions about protecting your children. Sadly, there’s no guarantee that even with the information from this blog or even from the whole book, which is definitely worth reading, that something bad could happen to a child. We all need to take personal responsibility for our safety and the safety of our loved ones when it comes to danger.
If you are dealing with one of the situations described in this book, you might want to discuss this with one of the therapists at Specialized Therapy Associates. Please call us at 201-488-6678 to speak to our intake coordinator to set up an intake for yourself and your child.