Why Children Need Risk, Fear, and Excitement in Play

Why Children Need Risk, Fear, and Excitement in Play
And why adults’ fears put them at risk

FEB 28, 2024
[Preface from Jon Haidt:]

In April 2023 I was invited to give a lecture at the University of British Columbia. As long as I was flying out to Vancouver, I wanted to meet Professor Mariana Brussoni, who had been writing important work on the value of outdoor risky play. Our hour-long meeting expanded my thinking about risk and play, and helped me write Chapters 2 and 3 of The Anxious Generation. Mariana quickly joined my pantheon(ˈpanTHēˌän) of experts on play, along with Lenore Skenazy and Peter Gray. With articles such as Play Worth Remembering: Are Playgrounds Too Safe? and Risky Play and Children’s Safety: Balancing Priorities for Optimal(ˈäptəməl) Child Development, Mariana makes the case that we harm children’s social, physical, and even immune(iˈmyo͞on) development when we remove all risk from their lives. I liked Mariana and her work so much that I gave her an open-ended invitation to write whatever she wanted at After Babel. Here is her essay(ˈesā), laying out her findings in a format that parents and schools can use. A concise(kənˈsīs) summary of her work is this simple sentence, which she said to me during our meeting: “Children should be kept as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible.”

— Jon

We parents are caught in a paradox(ˈperəˌdäks). We desperately(desperately) want to keep our children safe and ensure their success. We are also often terrified(ˈterəˌfī) that they will get hurt and that they will fail—so we do everything we can to prevent that from happening. Yet many of those very efforts to manage our fears have paradoxically reduced our children’s safety and their odds(ädz) of success.

For over two decades, I have researched children’s development, injury prevention, and outdoor risky play. I have learned that when we prioritize children’s play (especially the kind of play that involves some risk and lack of supervision(ˌso͞opərˈviZH(ə)n)) and the freedom to play how they choose, we help create environments where children and youth thrive(THrīv).1 When we don’t, the consequences(ˈkänsikwəns) can be dire(ˈkänsikwəns).

Think back to your favorite childhood play memory. Where were you? What were you doing? Was there an adult supervising you?

Adults in many Western nations, particularly those born before the 1990s, recall playing with friends in their neighborhoods, local parks, and abandoned places, making up the rules as they went along, without adult supervision. They often recall a sense of joy, fun, and freedom as they would run, jump, and move their bodies in ways that weren’t allowed indoors. They felt independent, taking risks and figuring things out for themselves. And this is the kind of childhood that has been common for nearly all of human history. Children, like all young mammals(ˈmaməl), play.

Today, this kind of childhood is rare. Every successive generation of children since the 1970s has seen their outdoor play and freedom shrink(SHriNGk). Time use data show that children’s leisure(ˈlēZHər) time has gone down, particularly time spent in unstructured outdoor play, while time spent in academic and screen-based activities has increased. Between 1975 and 2015, outdoor play among UK children decreased by 29.4%, while screen-based activities increased by 22.4%. In the U.S., only 16% of children in 1997 played outdoors every day. By 2003—just six years later—that dropped even further to 10%.

Figure 1. Changes in UK children’s daily time use, based on Mullan (2019). Thanks to Nick Desbarats for making this figure.

Just ask a young person (born after 1990) about their favorite childhood play memories. Then ask their parents the same question and you will see how this generational shift has played out. The parents will likely tell you stories of neighborhood adventures with friends. The child will likely talk about structured activities, such as sports—as they were under the watchful eyes of adults.

What Is Risky Play and Why Does It Matter?

When children have the time, space, and freedom to play the way they choose, it’s not long before they start taking risks in their play, such as climbing higher than they usually do, building secret dens, or racing on their bikes. This is no accident. Children are wired for risky play, in which they take physical risks, seek excitement, and satisfy curiosity.

Boy swinging on rope
Photo by Mariana Brussoni

Examples of risky play will be familiar to most of us: playing with heights (e.g., climbing), with speed (e.g., sledding(ˈslediNG)), using tools (e.g., hammers, knives), playing near elements such as fire or bodies of water, rough(rəf)-and-tumble(ˈtəmbəl) play, play where children can wander(ˈwändər) independently (e.g., playing in their neighborhood with no adult supervision), and play with impact (e.g., jumping into a lake). This kind of play involves children pushing themselves beyond their previous limits and not knowing how things will turn out. As a result, they simultaneously(ˌsīməlˈtānēəslē) experience thrill(THril) and fright. All children need risky play, but it may look different depending on the child.

Girl jumping into a lake
Photo by Mariana Brussoni

Risky play, as the name implies, means that kids can get hurt, and that their chances of getting hurt are higher than if they’re more sedentary(ˈsednˌterē) and playing quietly. On the surface, it’s not clear why a need for risky play would evolve(ēˈvälv) across species(ˈspēsēz), if it increases the chances that something bad will happen to those who partake(pärˈtāk) in it. But when we dig a little deeper, its benefits become obvious. Risky play provides children with low-cost opportunities to develop the physical and cognitive(ˈkäɡnədiv) skills to master the challenges that they will face as they grow older. So, those who engaged in it had a major evolutionary(evolutionary) advantage over those who did not. Physically, risky play allows children to explore more diverse(dəˈvərs) movements and gain physical movement skills. Cognitively, it helps them overcome their fears, build their critical thinking skills, and become accustomed(əˈkəstəmd) to coping independently with difficult situations.

Risky play can even help children overcome anxiety disorders and the cognitive distortions(dəˈstôrSH(ə)n) that go along with them. Anxious children have difficulty tolerating(ˈtäləˌrāt) uncertainty, tend to interpret(inˈtərprət) ambiguity(ˌambəˈɡyo͞owədē) negatively(ˈneɡədivlē) and underestimate(ˌəndərˈestəˌmāt) their ability to cope(kōp) in uncertain situations. Through risky play, children practice dealing with strong ambiguous(amˈbiɡyo͞oəs) emotions (thrill and excitement could also be interpreted as fear and terror(ˈterər)) and situations that abound with uncertainty. It can also show them that they are resilient(rəˈzilyənt) and capable of coping when things go wrong. Research shows that children with more opportunities for risky play have lower internalizing symptoms(ˈsim(p)təm) that are characteristic of anxiety disorders.

In fact, the Canadian Paediatric(ˌpēdēˈatrik) Society sees risky play as so important, and as a way to address many of the challenges that their patients face, that they recently released a statement encouraging pediatricians to support it in patients’ lives.

With all of these benefits… and the evolutionary impulse(ˈimˌpəls) for it… why has risky play been disappearing so rapidly?

Why is risky play disappearing from children’s lives?

Among the most important factors driving the loss of risky play and childhood freedom is the move toward intensive parenting that began in the 1980s.2 Parents, particularly mothers, have been encouraged to micro-manage their children’s lives, curate(ˈkyo͝orət) their experiences, remove any barriers, and enroll them in diverse structured activities with the intention of enhancing their development and giving them an edge in the race to succeed. This approach to parenting has become like the air we breathe—widely accepted in North America—with parents of all backgrounds held to its unrealistic standard regardless of whether they can afford the necessary time, money, and energy.

This costly parenting strategy has negligible(ˈneɡləjəb(ə)l) benefits at best, and can even be harmful. Research shows that enrollment in structured activities is not associated with improved developmental outcomes, and the loss of free time can be detrimental(ˌdetrəˈmen(t)l) to developing basic executive function skills. When positive effects of intensive parenting have been shown, they’ve been modest(ˈmädəst) and insufficient(ˌinsəˈfiSH(ə)nt) to offset the substantial(səbˈstan(t)SHəl) costs to parents.3

So why does this parenting approach persist even though it is exhausting(iɡˈzôstiNG), parents wouldn’t have wanted it for themselves, and the research does not show benefits?

The answer lies in expectations. Parents today receive constant messaging that in order to be “good parents”, they must always keep their children safe. And it is widely believed that the world is no longer a safe place for children to play in. Yet statistics show that it has never been a safer time to be a child. Injury-related deaths are at an all-time low in most Western nations. In the US, deaths from unintentional injuries fell by 73% for boys and 85% for girls between 1973 and 2010. This misperception(ˌmispərˈsepSH(ə)n) of risk creates the parental paradox.

What kids are dying from today are mainly car crashes and suicides(ˈso͞oəˌsīd), not playing outside unsupervised with friends. Parents are worrying about the wrong causes of injuries and harm. In fact, the very strategies that parents use to try to keep their children safe – driving them around, maximizing supervision, and minimizing freedom – are unintentionally increasing the likelihood(ˈlīklēˌho͝od) of injuries and even death.

Three ingredients(inˈɡrēdēənt) to bring back risky play and childhood freedom

The problem lies not with our intentions. We all want children to thrive. The problem is in the decisions we’ve made to support this noble(ˈnōbəl) goal. We’ve prioritized safety over freedom, achievement over play, and screen time over outdoor time. The results are predictable: compromised(ˈkämprəˌmīz) mental and physical health, cognitive development, and emotional competence(ˈkämpədəns).

The solutions are both simple and hard. We know what children need to thrive. The three key ingredients necessary for thriving play environments are Time, Space, and Freedom.

Time: Make daily outdoor playtime a priority. That can mean adding it to the schedule, much like we already do for sports or other extra-curricular(kəˈrikyələr) activities. But schools should also take steps to prioritize outdoor instruction and recess(ˈrēˌses). This can be particularly important for children from disadvantaged families without ready access to safe and stimulating(ˈstimyəˌlādiNG) outdoor environments. Parents and educators can use the U.S. Play Coalition’s(ˌkōəˈliSH(ə)n) position paper on recess to advocate(ˈadvəkət) for more recess in schools. My research lab also developed a free teacher tool to help encourage outdoor learning, which includes short how-to videos to help overcome common barriers that teachers face.

Space: Children need easy access to stimulating spaces for play; flexible spaces where they can use their imagination and explore risks, rather than spaces dominated by boring play structures and strict rules. Unfortunately, these kinds of spaces are harder and harder to come by as more parking lots and highways are built to accommodate a growing number of cars. At a legislative level, we need to move away from municipal planning that prioritizes cars over people–an important step that a number of North American cities have already taken. Outside of legislation, there is much that individuals can do, even with the little space that is available. For example, “loose parts” (e.g., sticks, lumber, rocks, boxes, and tarps) can turn boring and barren play spaces into places of joy and wonder.While these may look like junk to adults, children love them. Scotland developed a loose parts toolkit for anyone who wants to get started. Some cities also have adventure playgrounds—child-centered, child-directed play spaces that are rich in loose parts. (Such playgrounds always have adult staff on hand, but the staff stays in the background unless serious safety risks arise.). See New York’s play:groundnyc as one example.

Adventure playground in NYC
Image. Adventure Playground in New York City. Credit: Jon Haidt.
Freedom: Children need freedom to be able to play the way they choose. The biggest barrier to children’s freedom is us—the adults in their lives—and our need to manage our own fears. Getting over these fears can be difficult, but it is much easier when you work together with other parents. Peter Gray suggests that building tighter relationships with neighbors can help parents feel more confident about letting their kids out to play. The U.S. organization Let Grow works with parents and schools to help support an independent childhood. For parents working to manage their fears and change their approach to play, our lab developed the OutsidePlay.org parent tool to help them work through their challenges, figure out what works best for them and develop a plan for change. We’ve tested it rigorously and it works.

Creating environments for children to thrive doesn’t have to feel overwhelming or unattainable. Every change begins with one small and manageable step. We each have to choose what this looks like for us. We owe it to our children to prioritize play and freedom in their lives and everyday realities. We’ve already seen what happens when we don’t. Let’s break out of the paradox, and give children the freedom they need to thrive.

To find more tools to help bring back risky play and to learn more about Mariana’s research, head to OutsidePlay.org.

[1] Children of all ages, backgrounds and abilities need play. We often neglect the play needs of older children and youth, and while they are different from those of younger children, they are no less important.

[2] Any conversation about the decline in outdoor play must also look at the impact of screens. In 2000, UK kids spent 3 hours per day on screens, and this was before the proliferation of smartphones. By 2015, this rose to 4 hours 45 minutes. Other estimates range upwards of 480 minutes per day (8hrs). Some kids spend more time on their devices than they do at school. All of this time spent on screens must come from somewhere, and it has mostly been displacing sleep and outdoor play time.

[3] A longitudinal study in the UK found modest positive effects on children’s physical health, but detrimental impacts on their mental health. Other studies show negative effects on mental health as children grow into young adulthood, including increased rates of anxiety and depression and impaired independence.


Academic Reading sample task – Multiple choice

Academic Reading sample task – Multiple choice

[Note: This is an extract from an Academic Reading passage on the subject of government subsidies(ˈsəbsədē) to farmers. The text preceding this extract explained how subsidies can lead to activities which cause uneconomical(ˌənˌekəˈnämik(ə)l) and irreversible(ˌi(r)rəˈvərsəb(ə)l) changes to the environment.]

All these activities may have damaging environmental impacts. For example, land clearing for agriculture(ˈaɡrəˌkəlCHər) is the largest single cause of deforestation(dēˌfôrəˈstāSHən); chemical(ˈkemək(ə)l) fertilisers(ˈfərdlˌīzər) and pesticides(ˈpestəˌsīd) may contaminate(kənˈtaməˌnāt) water supplies; more intensive(inˈtensiv) farming and the abandonment of fallow(ˈfalō) periods tend to exacerbate(iɡˈzasərˌbāt) soil erosion(əˈrōZHən); and the spread(spred) of monoculture(ˈmänəˌkəlCHər) and use of highyielding(ˈyēldiNG) varieties of crops have been accompanied by the disappearance of old varieties of food plants which might have provided some insurance against pests(pest) or diseases(dəˈzēz) in future. Soil erosion threatens the productivity of land in both rich and poor countries. The United States, where the most careful measurements have been done, discovered in 1982 that about one-fifth of its farmland was losing topsoil at a rate likely to diminish(dəˈminiSH) the soil’s productivity. The country subsequently(ˈsəbsəkwəntlē) embarked(əmˈbärk) upon a program to convert 11 per cent of its cropped land to meadow(ˈmedō) or forest. Topsoil in India and China is vanishing(ˈvaniSH) much faster than in America.

Government policies have frequently compounded(ˈkämˌpound) the environmental damage that farming can cause. In the rich countries, subsidies for growing crops and price supports for farm output drive up the price of land. The annual value of these subsidies is immense(iˈmens): about $250 billion, or more than all World Bank lending in the 1980s. To increase the output of crops per acre(ˈākər), a farmer’s easiest option is to use more of the most readily(ˈredəlē) available inputs: fertilisers and pesticides. Fertiliser use doubled in Denmark in the period 1960-1985 and increased in The Netherlands by 150 per cent. The quantity(ˈkwän(t)ədē) of pesticides applied has risen too: by 69 per cent in 1975-1984 in Denmark, for example, with a rise of 115 per cent in the frequency(ˈfrēkwənsē) of application in the three years from 1981.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s some efforts were made to reduce farm subsidies. The most dramatic(drəˈmadik) example was that of New Zealand, which scrapped(skrap) most farm support in 1984. A study of the environmental effects, conducted in 1993, found that the end of fertiliser subsidies had been followed by a fall in fertiliser use (a fall compounded by the decline in world commodity(kəˈmädədē) prices, which cut farm incomes). The removal(rəˈmo͞ovəl) of subsidies also stopped land-clearing and over-stocking, which in the past had been the principal causes of erosion. Farms began to diversify(dəˈvərsəˌfī, dīˈvərsəˌfī). The one kind of subsidy whose removal appeared to have been bad for the environment was the subsidy to manage soil erosion.

In less enlightened(inˈlītnd) countries, and in the European Union, the trend has been to reduce rather than eliminate(əˈliməˌnāt) subsidies, and to introduce new payments to encourage farmers to treat their land in environmentally friendlier ways, or to leave it fallow. It may sound strange but such payments need to be higher than the existing incentives(inˈsen(t)iv) for farmers to grow food crops. Farmers, however, dislike being paid to do nothing. In several countries they have become interested in the possibility of using fuel(ˈfyo͞o(ə)l) produced from crop residues either as a replacement for petrol(ˈpetrəl) (as ethanol(ˈeTHənōl)) or as fuel for power stations (as biomass(ˈbīōˌmas)). Such fuels produce far less carbon dioxide(dīˈäkˌsīd) than coal(kōl) or oil, and absorb(əbˈzôrb) carbon dioxide as they grow.

They are therefore less likely to contribute to the greenhouse effect. But they are rarely competitive(kəmˈpedədiv) with fossil(ˈfäsəl) fuels unless subsidised - and growing them does no less environmental harm than other crops.


Academic Reading sample task – Table completion

Academic Reading sample task – Table completion

[Note: This is an extract from an Academic Reading passage on the subject of dung(dəNG) beetles(ˈbēdl). The text preceding this extract gave some background facts about dung beetles, and went on to describe a decision to introduce non-native varieties(vəˈrīədē) to Australia.]

Introducing dung beetles into a pasture(ˈpasCHər) is a simple process: approximately(əˈpräksəmətlē) 1,500 beetles are released, a handful at a time, into fresh cow pats(pat) in the cow pasture. The beetles immediately disappear beneath(bəˈnēTH) the pats digging and tunnelling(ˈtənl) and, if they successfully adapt to their new environment, soon become a permanent(ˈpərmənənt), self-sustaining(səˈstān) part of the local ecology(ēˈkäləjē). In time they multiply and within three or four years the benefits to the pasture are obvious.

Dung beetles work from the inside of the pat so they are sheltered(ˈSHeltərd) from predators(ˈpredədər) such as birds and foxes. Most species(ˈspēsēz) burrow(ˈbərō) into the soil(soil) and bury(ˈberē) dung in tunnels directly underneath the pats, which are hollowed(ˈhälō) out from within. Some large species originating(əˈrijəˌnāt) from France excavate(ˈekskəˌvāt) tunnels to a depth of approximately 30 cm below the dung pat.
These beetles make sausage(ˈsôsij)-shaped brood(bro͞od) chambers(ˈCHāmbər) along the tunnels. The shallowest(ˈSHalō) tunnels belong to a much smaller Spanish species that buries dung in chambers that hang like fruit from the branches of a pear tree. South African beetles dig narrow tunnels of approximately 20 cm below the surface of the pat. Some surface-dwelling(ˈdweliNG) beetles, including a South African species, cut perfectly-shaped balls from the pat, which are rolled away and attached to the bases(ˈbāsēz) of plants.

For maximum dung burial(ˈberēəl) in spring, summer and autumn, farmers require a variety of species with overlapping periods of activity. In the cooler environments of the state of Victoria, the large French species (2.5 cms long), is matched with smaller (half this size), temperate(ˈtemp(ə)rət)-climate(ˈklīmit) Spanish species. The former are slow to recover from the winter cold and produce only one or two generations of offspring from late spring until autumn. The latter, which multiply rapidly(ˈrapədlē) in early spring, produce two to five generations annually.
The South African ball-rolling species, being a sub-tropical(tropical) beetle, prefers the climate of northern and coastal(ˈkōstəl) New South Wales where it commonly works with the South African tunneling species. In warmer climates, many species are active for longer periods of the year.


Farm Tails

Cow & Chick

Chick: Hello, cow, where’s your tail?

Chick: My tail is orange.

Chick: I am a little chicken, I love to eat insects and millet. My voice jijiji.

Cow: It’s wiggling behind me, chick.

Cow: Hello, Chick! What color is your tail?

Cow: I am a cute cow. My milk is for children.

Cow: Lola the cow.

The Lola cow, the Lola cow,
She has a head and has a tail.
And she goes “moo.”

Pig & Lamp

Pig: Hello, lamp, where’s your tail?

Pig: My tail is very short and pink.

Pig: Walk humming(həm), love to sleep late, chubby(ˈCHəbē) body, eat the happiest.

Pig: Three little pigs


Jungly Tails

Jungly Tails


By Christina Rossetti


By Christina Rossetti(rəˈzedē)

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel(ˈkounsəl) then or pray(prā).
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve(ɡrēv):
For if the darkness and corruption(kəˈrəpSH(ə)n) leave
A vestige(ˈvestij) of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.


The 4-Hour Workweek

The 4-Hour Workweek

By Tim Ferriss

If you’ve picked up this book, chances are that you don’t want to sit behind a desk until you are 62. Whether your dream is escaping the rat(rat) race(rās), real-life fantasy travel, long-term wandering, setting world records, or simply a dramatic(drəˈmadik) career(kəˈrir) change, this book will give you all the tools you need to make it a reality in the here-and-now instead of in the often elusive(ēˈlo͞osiv) “retirement(rəˈtī(ə)rmənt).” There is a way to get the rewards for a life of hard work without waiting until the end.

How? It begins with a simple distinction most people miss—one I missed for 25 years.

People don’t want to be millionaires(ˌmilyəˈner)—they want to experience what they believe only millions can buy. Ski(skē) chalets(SHaˈlā), butlers(ˈbətlər), and exotic(iɡˈzädik) travel often enter the picture. Perhaps rubbing(ˈrəbiNG) cocoa(ˈkōkō) butter on your belly(ˈbelē) in a hammock(ˈhamək) while you listen to waves rhythmically(ˈriT͟Hmik(ə)lē) lapping against the deck of your thatched(THaCHt)-roof bungalow(ˈbəNGɡəˌlō)? Sounds nice.

$1,000,000 in the bank isn’t the fantasy. The fantasy is the lifestyle of complete freedom it supposedly(səˈpōzədlē) allows. The question is then, How can one achieve the millionaire(ˌmilyəˈner) lifestyle of complete freedom without first having $1,000,000?

In the last five years, I have answered this question for myself, and this book will answer it for you. I will show you exactly how I have separated income from time and created my ideal lifestyle in the process, traveling the world and enjoying the best this planet(ˈplanət) has to offer. How on earth did I go from 14-hour days and $40,000 per year to 4-hour weeks and $40,000-plus per month?


The perfect number of hours to work every day? Five

The perfect number of hours to work every day? Five

Research shows that five work hours a day can improve productivity and bolster(ˈbōlstər) wellbeing. There’s only one thing holding companies back

By Margaret Taylor

As employers grapple(ˈɡrapəl) with how to manage the return to the workplace in the wake of Covid-19, the concept of compressed(kəmˈprest) working is making a comeback. As left-of-centre politicians(ˌpäləˈtiSHən) continue to make the case for four-day weeks, they are often forgetting evidence(ˈevədəns) that shows five-hour days may be the better option.

“Research indicates that five hours is about the maximum that most of us can concentrate(ˈkänsənˌtrāt) hard on something,” says Alex Pang, founder of Silicon(ˈsilikən, ˈsiləˌkän) Valley consultancy(kənˈsəltnsē) Strategy and Rest and author of several books examining the links between shorter working hours and productivity. “There are periods when you can push past that, but the reality is that most of us have about that good work time in us every day.”

The eight-hour working day is a relatively(ˈrelədivlē) new concept, widely(ˈwīdlē) accepted to have been cemented(səˈment) by Ford(fôrd) Motor(ˈmōdər) Company a century ago as a means of keeping production going 24 hours a day without putting undue(ˌənˈd(y)o͞o) demands on individual members of staff. Ford’s experiment led to an increase in overall productivity; but proponents(prəˈpōnənt) of five-hour days, including Californian(ˌkaləˈfôrnyən) ecommerce(ēˈkämərs) business Tower Paddle Boards(bôrd) and German digital consultancy Rheingans, say they experienced a similar phenomenon(fəˈnäməˌnän) when they moved to compressed-hour models.


Beautiful Boy

Beautiful Boy

By John(jän) Lennon(ˈlenən)

Close your eyes,
Have no fear,
The monster’s gone,
He’s on the run
And your daddy’s here,

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful boy,

Before you go to sleep,
Say a little prayer(prer),
Every day
In every way,
It’s getting better and better,

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful boy,

Out on the ocean sailing(ˈsāliNG) away,
I can hardly wait
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we’ll both
Just have to be patient,

‘Cause it’s a long way to go,
A hard row to hoe(hō)
Yes, it’s a long way to go
But in the meantime,

Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is what happens to you,
While you’re busy making other plans,

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful boy,

Before you go to sleep,
Say a little prayer,
Every day
In every way,
It’s getting better and better,

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful boy,

Darling, darling,
Darling Sean.


I honor the father

I honor the father


By Henry H. Walker

every child is precious(ˈpreSHəs)
and the rearing(rir) of that child
deserves(dəˈzərv) the finest of instinct, decision, care,

I am in awe(ô) of the mother
within whom the life begins
and who regularly allows the best to be possible,
there should be awe when watching
a young mother swaddle(ˈswädl) the child with love,

I can be in awe of the father
for whom the rearing is more of choice
and the way forward seemingly more pathless,

the father who sees the child,
who knows the child,
who is there for the child,
can help the way open clear
for the precious within the child
to break free of the shells that can hold him and her back,

at the heart of it all, the child makes his and her own way,

now, though, I honor the father,
whose love and effort can support the child
in becoming the best possible person
inherent(inˈhirənt) within what choice and circumstance(ˈsərkəmˌstans) allow.

My sons, you are great fathers!
Thank you for who you are.