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How Much Should We Shelter Our Kids?

We don't do our children a favor when we protect them from the world.
— Wayne Gordon

Thirteen years ago my wife, Anne, gave birth to our daughter, Angela. Two days later I proudly drove my Chevy to the front door of the hospital and assisted Anne and Angela into the car. Pulling away from the curb, we headed for the Chicago inner-city apartment where we had lived for three years.

When we crossed California Avenue and entered the Lawndale neighborhood with its glass-strewn empty lots and burned-out tenements, my wife began weeping.

"What are you crying about?" I asked. "This is a happy moment." (The proud father got a failing mark for sensitivity that day.)

"How can we bring our innocent little daughter into this environment?" she sobbed.

I figured my wife's emotions had something to do with postpartum depression, but I also suspected her maternal instincts were on target. Though I am not often burdened by guilt, at that moment, I began to feel guilty about where I had brought my family for ...

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