It’s a miracle that those of us over 40 survived our childhoods with all the ridiculous new regulations, coddling, and societal mores that seem to be the norm these days.
Here’s the problem with all this babying: it’s building a weenies culture.
There will be no more revolutionaries, because a purposely engineered climate of terror has terrified this generation into submission and apathy. Nobody will have faced adventure and will have lived to embroider the story extensively.
Children are brainwashed – yes, brainwashed – into believing that the mere thought of a weapon means that you are a psychotic killer waiting for a place to rampage.
They’re scared to do anything unless they’re wrapped in helmets, knee pads, wrist guards, and other protective gear.
Parents are reluctant to let them go out and be independent, or they are accused of abuse and the children are taken away.
Woe betide any teen who uses meat cutting tool like a pocket knife, or heck, even a table knife.
Lighting up your own fire? Good grief, either those parents don’t have to take care after their child is disfigured by 3rd-degree burns over 90% of his body or they’re purposely feeding a little incendiary.
Heaven prohibits a child to identify another child as “black,” or refer to others as girls or boys for that matter. No actual descriptors can be used for fear of “offending” that person and somebody’s “offending” is incredibly high on Things Never To Do hierarchy.
“Parenting at a free-range” is illegal, yet childhood these days is a totally different experience.
All of this babying creates incompetent, fearful adults.
Our children have been enveloped in this softly padded culture of fear, and it is creating a society of people who are fearful, out of shape, excessively cautious and painfully politically correct. When they go out alone they are incredibly inept because they have never really done anything on their own.
When my friend’s oldest daughter came home from college after her first semester, she told her father how grateful she was to become an independent person. She’d described the dorm scene. “I had to show a bunch of them how to do the washing, and they didn’t even know how to make Kraft Macaroni and Cheese boxes,” she said. They were clearly in awe of her ability to cook actual food that did not originate in a container or package, her ability to change a tire, her ability to make coffee using a French press instead of a coffee maker, and her ease of running a washing machine and clothes dryer. She says that while she thought that her parents were mean at the time when they started making her do things for herself, she is now grateful that she possesses those skills. Hers was also the space that needed everything to address the everyday problems: basic equipment, supplies of first aid, OTC medication and home remedies.
I was really surprised when my friend told me of her daughter’s friends’ lack of life-skills. He always thought maybe he was secretly lazy and that was the root of his insistence that his girls should fend for themselves, but it truly prepares them much more for life than if they were hands-on parents who did absolutely anything for them. They have to remember the clothing isn’t worn and instead reappear easily on a hanger in the wardrobe, ready to be worn again. They need to realize that meals, created by singing appliances à la Beauty and the Beast, do not magically appear on the table.
If the world is inhabited by a bunch of people who can’t even cook a box of macaroni and cheese when their stoves operate at optimum efficiency, how will they sustain themselves on earth when they need to not only procure their food, but also use off-grid methods to prepare it? How can someone who requires an instruction manual to operate a digital thermostat hope to keep warm when the wood they have collected controls their home environment and the fires they have lit with it? How can someone who is afraid of getting dirty plant a garden and shovel manure?
Did you do any of these things and live to tell the tale?
Although I made my kids wear bicycle helmets and never put them in the back of a pick-up on the highway, many of the items on this list were not just allowed; they were encouraged. Until anyone pipes up with indignation (because they’re insulted * cough *) I don’t recommend you throw caution at the wind and let your kids try to float off the roof with a sheet attached to a kite frame. Common sense grows, and obviously I’m not suggesting that you put your kids in dangerous conditions with a high risk of injury.
But, just let them be kids. Let them explore, and take reasonable risks. Let them learn to live out fearless lives.
Raise your hand if you survived a childhood that involved one or more of the following frowned-up incidents in the 60s, 70s and 80s (raise both hands if you carry a scar confirming your daredevil participation in these events):
- Riding in the back of an open pick-up truck with a bunch of other kids
- Leaving the house after breakfast and not returning until the streetlights came on, at which point you raced home ASAP so you didn’t get in trouble
- Eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the school cafeteria
- Riding your bike without a helmet
- Riding your bike with a buddy on the handlebars, and neither of you wearing helmets
- Drinking water from the hose in the yard
- Swimming in creeks, rivers, ponds, and lakes (or what they now call *cough* “wild swimming“)
- Climbing trees (One park cut the lower branches from a tree on the playground in case some stalwart child dared to climb them)
- Having snowball fights (and accidentally hitting someone you shouldn’t)
- Sledding without enough protective equipment to play a game in the NFL
- Carrying a pocket knife to school (or having a fishing tackle box with sharp things on school property)
- Throwing rocks at snakes in the river
- Playing politically incorrect games like Cowboys and Indians
- Playing Cops and Robbers with *gasp* toy guns
- Pretending to shoot each other with sticks we imagined were guns
- Shooting an actual gun or a bow (with *gasp* sharp arrows) at a can on a log, accompanied by our parents who gave us pointers to improve our aim. Heck, there was even a marksmanship club at my high school
- Saying the words “gun” or “bang” or “pow pow” (there’s actually a freakin’ CODE about “playing with invisible guns”)
- Working for your pocket money well before your teen years
- Taking that money to the store and buying as much penny candy as you could afford, then eating it in one sitting
- Eating pop rocks candy and drinking soda, just to prove we were exempt from that urban legend that said our stomachs would explode
- Getting so dirty that your mom washed you off with the hose in the yard before letting you come into the house to have a shower
- Writing lines for being a jerk at school, either on the board or on paper
- Playing “dangerous” games like dodge ball, kickball, tag, whiffle ball, and red rover (The Health Department of New York issued a warning about the “significant risk of injury” from these games)
- Walking to school alone
Come on, be honest. Tell us what crazy stuff you did as a child.
Related: Bug Out Bag for Beginners
Teach your children to be independent this summer.
We weren’t getting trophies just to show up. We were forced – yes, we were forced – to do real work, and nobody called security services. And out of all this we learned something:
We are independent.
Would you really think kids who are scared by someone pointing their finger and saying “bang” would lead the fight against tyranny? No, they’ll cower in their small rooms, hoping they’ll continue to be fed if they act well enough.
Do you think that our ancestors who fought in the revolutionary war feared climbing a tree or getting dirty?
Those of us who have grown up this way (and raise our kids to be fearless) are the resistance to a coddled, helmed, non-offending society that aims for a dependent population. We are now the minority in a nation that was built on rugged self-reliance.
Nurture the rebellion this summer. Boot them outside.
Keep the kids off their televisions, tablets and video games. Get dirty, and sweaty. Do things which make your hair fly through the wind. Go off looking for the best climbing tree you’ll find. Shoot guns. Learn how to use a bow and arrow. Play outside during the day, and catch fireflies after dark. Do stuff the coddled world thinks are too dangerous.
Then watch your kids blossom.
Teach your children what freedom feels like.