TV presenter and explorer Ben Fogle has defended letting his children play with knives, fire and snakes, saying that he and his wife treat them ‘like adults’.
Ben, who is known for his appearances on survival show Castaway 2000, and more recently his presenting role on Countryfile, has built his career on harnessing the wilderness and taking serious risks.
Now he’s admitted that he encourages his young children, seven-year-old Ludo and five-year-old Iona to follow in his adventurous footsteps.
‘My five and seven-year-old have got knives, whittling knives, they’ve got a sharp blade to whittle wood. They’ve had those for years now,’ he said during an interview with the Press Association.
And it’s not just knives, because he adds that ‘[they] make fire. They do everything. We treat them like grown-ups.’
‘One of the reasons that we are all so obsessed with fire is that when we are children we’re told to, ‘stay clear of fire, don’t take that match, fire is dangerous’,’ he explains.
‘We have this slight fascination with it. But that’s when problems come. Suddenly in later life, when you can start playing with fire, that’s when all sorts of disasters happen.’
He justifies his stance further by saying that ‘banning’ certain things early in life will often lead to a disproportionate obsession: ‘If you start from an early age and it doesn’t become something unknown, it loses its lustre and suddenly fire is, “whatever, I can start a fire by rubbing wood together, or with a match or a magnifying glass”. It loses its mystery.’
‘Children should take risks – my son loves playing with snakes – it’s definitely something we encourage.’
Ben has never been shy about sharing his views on hot parenting topics, with these comments coming shortly after he slammed ‘ludicrous exam culture’ – in particular, the fact that parents get fined for taking their children out of school during term time.
‘Parents get fined a huge amount of money and you hear some of the stories of parents who just want to take children to a wedding or to see a dying relative. It’s desperately unfair,’ he argued.
‘Of course you need to count and add and read and write, but you should be able to take that out into the wilderness and do that in forests and woods and see how geography works in the ground, not just in pictures.’
‘I failed all of my exams… I know the virtues of the wilderness, travel, outdoors and animals!’