Friday, May 26, 2006

Don't talk to strangers

This is what my mother told me when I was a child.

I remember once being at the supermarket with my mother, and while her back was turned some man was talking to me. When my mother saw that I was conversing with a "stranger," she yelled at me and told me never to talk to strangers.

Yes, she spent a lot of time telling me never to talk to strangers, never to get into a car with stranger, don't believe anything a stranger tells me.

I really took the instructions to heart. When my mother then introduced me to her friends, I would clam up and not say anything. After all, if I never saw them before then they were strangers to me, I was just following orders. I was completely mystified how one adult could be a bad "stranger," and another adult a good "stranger" whom I was allowed to converse with.

I believe this was really bad child raising on the part of my mother. I suppose there's no harm in telling this stuff to a child who's naturally extroverted, but for a child who is already shy, like I was, I think this is devastating. I managed to reach the age of eighteen without being kidnapped by a pervert, but I was a shy and socially inept eighteen year old, not so good at interacting with people and dreadfully afraid of girls.

Of course there are other factors at work, but I really do think the message "don't talk to strangers" contributed to my problems. People are born naturally extroverted or introverted, but I believe that social phobias like shyness or fear of sex are also the result of our environment when we are young.

A good parent would try to encourage a naturally timid child to be more open and not make the situation worse by instilling fear.

1 comment:

  1. When I was in 6th or 7th grade my mom was talking to my dad about my neighbour who went out on a date with his GF and then my dad said to me "No dating; you can only bring them home".

    I didn't understand what he meant but I heard the words "No dating". I deeply respect and obey my dad since he's very wise so I immediately assumed relationships were banned like drugs and cigarettes.

    I followed that order for a decade and was afraid to even let my dad find out when I spoke to t a girl.

    Now it's too late and my childhood was ruined.