I once saw a photo of a sign that read, in big capital letters, "Caution: This Sign Has Sharp Edges. Do Not Touch the Edges of this Sign." Below these large letters was a sentence written in much smaller letters: "Also the Bridge is Out Ahead." These letters could be read only if you stopped your car very close to the sign, or if you actually got out of the car and stood in front of the sign.
It occurred to me that this laughable choice of fonts was little different from how we prioritize other dangers in our lives. We warn our children about so many things--not to talk to strangers, not to let anybody touch them in certain ways, not to ride their bicycles without a helmet--without realizing how seldom these "dangers" actually pose a threat. And then we fail to protect them from the dangers they face every day, the dangers that hurt them worse than any fall from a bicycle: our own anger and disapproval, the rejection of their peers, and the pain they experience from the daily conflicts they experience with their siblings, friends, teachers, and others.
We warn our children about the sharp edges of the sign but fail to tell them that bridge ahead is out. We can do better. We can learn to love them, teach them how to feel loved, teach them how to be loving, and teach them how to be more responsible. With these feelings and skills, they will avoid a great many of the accidents up ahead.