Written by Doctor G

How Can We Keep Kids Safe Without Making them Afraid?

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footballHere’s a question for you…Myself and my children are very blessed to have a safe home, safe neighborhood, etc. My son is best friends with a boy who is not so fortunate. He lives in a really rough part of town. His uncle was shot and killed on his front porch last school year. This boy invites my son over to his house all the time..but he is terrified, especially after what happened to the boy’s uncle. My boy is very worried that his friend will be hurt if he finds out he’s afraid to go to his house and that I, his father, will not allow him. How do we explain this to our son’s friend? How do I explain to my son that his fear is justified, without causing him fear of every low income neighborhood….Any thoughts?

Alan, on Facebook


This is such a great question Alan. The truth is that some fear is a healthy thing. You want your kids to be resilient, and part of that is being smart about safety. Would you be willing to go over to this boy’s house with your son and hang out together? This models open-mindedness without putting your son at undue risk. Then he can just blame it on his crazy Dad – “never lets me go someplace new without coming over too” or something like that? This way you and he can see what the situation is.


Also, his friend might enjoy hanging out at your house but may have a transportation issue. Can you offer to pick him up for a playdate when you’re out running errands? Or maybe a “we’re busy doing this fun thing, but we’d love to have you come along” would help?


We’re having over our house for a sleep over and he’s very excited….it is so sad but you can see the joy in his face when he talks about getting out of the neighborhood for the weekend. Good point about some fear is healthy…very well said…I think we’ll just continue having him here or doing things “out and about”. I just don’t want to make this child feel ashamed about where he lives…thanks so much!


You’re right to take care for this child’s feelings and both boys’ safety. And it would be great to invite his family over for a barbecue or something similar, to help build the bonds and show your kids that reaching out and staying safe are both important.


Thanks again..you should do this for a living…LOL….


So readers, what do you think?


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4 thoughts on “How Can We Keep Kids Safe Without Making them Afraid?”

  1. This is hard. I can be a cautious (read: fearful) parent, but I would tend to do more with the friend at our house at first, and would accompany him to his house at least once to see what it is like.

    It doesn’t sound like this neighborhood is that safe, though, and that the friend looks forward to getting out of there for a sleepover indicates that he is not perfectly comfortable there, either. If the boy’s parents don’t mind, I would do just you would – have him over more rather than drop my son off at the friend’s house.

    Kids have different reasons for wanting to play at one house over another: one house might be quieter, or more creative, or have no younger siblings to contend with. Or it just might be safer. It doesn’t have to be that the friend becomes ashamed of his home just because they always play at yours.

    1. Andrea, I think you are right. But I give this dad a lot of credit for wanting to make sure that shame stays out of the mix. Thank you for your insight!

  2. What do I tell my kid if he wants to know the reason for our defusal for him to go for a playdate at his friend’s house? He wants to be there, but we want the playdate to be at our house. The thing is that the house/family used to be safe, nice neighborhood, and all. But things changed the past year…

    Thanks so much, M

    1. It is reasonable to give him the truth, in broad terms. Show empathy for his desire to spend time there. Be firm that this is not an option. Answer: “It’s not a safe enough place for a visit.” If possible, go and spend time with him there?

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