10 Lessons We Can Learn from Our Children. PART 6: Stranger Danger

Stranger Danger

Let us take another journey down the ever-interesting topic of, what we can learn from our children! Oh yes, it is interesting and enlightening. For those of you that do not have kids, it is just as important to remember the lessons we learned as a child, because it is the adults (parent or not) that have forgotten. If you have missed any of the past lessons and want to catch up, click the links below!

  1. Play hard, sleep hard.
  2. Pursue the things you want with fierceness.
  3. Smile often.
  4. Observe the world around you… learn.
  5. Let your imagination run rampant
  6. Be cautious of strangers

AHHHHHH!!! Stranger danger!

We teach our children to be cautious around strangers, because we don’t want them kidnapped.

Simple. True. Reasonable.

We dare not think of who might kidnap our children and we really dare not think of why…Winslow at Alligator Farm in St. Augustine FL.jpg

I noticed with my beautiful daughter, that she had a natural cautiousness when around strangers. This even happens with family she hasn’t seen in a few weeks. She very naturally, and smartly checks with mom or dad (that’s me!) to see whether or not the stranger is someone to worry about.

Man, I love children. They are so much smarter than adults, more often than I would like to admit.

 

 

 

Let’s dive a little deeper, and determine why this may or may not be important:


 

 

There are a few different types of kids when it comes to how they react towards strangers.

  1. Parent Checker- This kid looks at mom or dad, and determines if it is safe to interact with the stranger. Remember, to a kid a stranger could be a loving grandparent that they haven’t seen in a long while. Or it could be a scary cable guy, or man in a van with candy. Sadly, if demented men in van’s were the only predators to watch out for, it would be easier to protect our children.
  2. Wail-N-flail- This is a kid that absolutely wants nothing to do with a stranger. Major trust issues with anyone but mommy and daddy, which means mommy and daddy have major trust issues with strangers, or no friends, or no social skills, or or or. Scream queen & fight knight, are loud and relentless in their escape from scary people.
  3. The Blissful Ignorant- This kid, and we have all met one, completely disregards any notion of danger, and automatically makes you his/her best friend from the moment they meet you. This kid makes you murmur in your head, “Thank goodness I am not a serial killer or pedophile, or this kid would be toast.” This kid will also tell you his life story, his imaginary friends life story, his families intimate life secrets, all within a 3 minute span. Hilarious! Unless this kid is yours.

I think the 1st & 2nd are safest, but 1 & 3 combined are the most well rounded.

Children interact with strangers in very distinct ways, but how do adults interact with strangers?

I’d say that adults interact with strangers in very similar ways. I’d rename the adult versions.

  1. Cautious Past Checker- This adult scans through their memories to decide how to react or interact with a stranger in certain situations. Usually this method works well, until a new and uniquely different situation arises. Then they might revert to a cautious approach.
  2. The Avoider- This adult avoids a stranger at all costs. While they do not externally wail-&-Flail, they most certainly do internally. This person pretends that the stranger is actually not even there, nor does the stranger exist on any plain.
  3. The Blissful Ignoramus- All the same rules and definitions apply to this adult. These types of people are the kind that make friends with serial killers, or become wildly popular human beings. Rewards do have risks, lol. They are usually the life of the party, and social butterflies that are often envied for their awesomeness.

Wait a second…. If adults and children both follow basically behavioral patterns with strangers, then what is there to possibly learn?

I love audience participation!

There is a lesson in here, I promise.

Would you say that there are healthier ways to deal with strangers than others?

Yes.

Would you say that you always approach situations and people the same way?

No.

Could understanding which type of person you are, in different situations possibly help you in anyway?

Let’s find out.

 

Scenario 1- You are at a work party for your spouse, and their boss takes them away to discuss an important matter. Now, you are stuck alone in a room full of people you’ve never met. Are you going to be 1, 2, or 3?

What would past you do?

Interestingly enough, it would seem that all 3 would be beneficial. Check your past to see how you normally act, which is shy and afraid. That never seems to be pleasant, so armed with that knowledge you set out to have a different experience. Typically, past you avoids others, so you aim to intentionally interact with strangers. You do so nervously, but you are doing it. The more you attempt to meet and talk to these strangers, the more blissfully ignorant you become. Within the 20 minutes your spouse was discussing important matters, you now have become close with 4 random co-workers of your spouse. Guess what? You also had a great time, and now look forward to the next work related event. Fun!

 

Scenario 2- You met a guy at a bar and he seemed amazing in the brief interaction. You gave him your phone number (do people still do that? Or is it social media info..? Snapchat? I don’t know…SMH), and cannot wait for him to call you.

The next morning, you are thinking a little clearer. Are you going to be 1, 2, or 3 with this attractive stranger?

Past you jumped a little too quickly into the barely known hot stranger. You made some mistakes, and he definitely did not turn out to be the guy you thought or hoped (you should probably stop looking for men in a bar, but that’s another post). So, having looked back into the past, you now want to be different this time. Awareness is an awesome deterrent for repeating past mistakes.

You do not want to avoid him, because he could truly be that great guy you hoped for, right?

So, you repeatedly check with your past self (instead of a parent), and make sure that you are not making the same mistakes. You make sure that you are cautious, but that you don’t avoid. Blissful ignorance might work too, but if the guy turns out to be a serial killer, you’ll really be kicking yourself as you lay on his table wrapped in plastic.

It may still turn out the same, but at least it is unlikely to be a disaster.


The point is, we can look at how we act around strangers, and think about the situation in a logical way. We don’t have to settle for “how we’ve always acted”. You can teach yourself to be outgoing. You can recognize if you should reel it in a bit. You can know whether you shut the world out, and if that has done you any good in the past. Life is about growing and learning from the past, but that is impossible if you cannot look in the mirror.

There are so many strangers out there, just waiting to be your friend. Just be careful, because a few of them are not friend material.

Be childlike in your approach, but do not limit yourself to one category of approach.

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