This morning I was sitting down to enjoy my cup of coffee, the baby had just gone down for a nap, so I took advantage of the free time to open my laptop and browse the news. I came across a story that was covered on the Today show about a school in Washington that tried to ban the playing of tag during recess (you can see the story here if you’d like). The parents of these kids were having no part of it so they successfully rallied together and convinced the school not to enforce this new rule.
This left me wondering, why are we trying to bubble wrap our kids?
Now I must disclose that my son is only 9 months old, so I still have plenty of time before I have to deal with school yard issues. But it just seems to me that every day there is a new report on some new movement to ban or change *insert pretty much any aspect of childhood and life here* under the guise of “protecting the kids.” Score is no longer kept during athletic games, kids are given trophies just for showing up, and now when a school tries to enforce a dress code not only do the kids protest, but their parents back them up! You already hear about a generation of young adults feeling like they’re entitled to everything, like they should just be handed things without working towards it…any ideas where this could be coming from?
I’m not trying to sound like some cranky person griping about how things were so much more difficult in my day, the truth is I’m only in my early 30’s and I grew up in a comfortable household. I’m also not trying to pretend to be some expert in child rearing who has all of the answers, but I do feel that making everything so easy for our kids is doing them more harm than good. The reality of life is that it’s not all going to be sunshine and roses; there is competition, there are mean people, there are people more talented than you, etc. There are many difficult situations that you will be faced with and childhood is the time to learn how to deal with all of these scenarios. Keeping score in sports games helps us learn how to be good winners and good losers; showing up to your commitments should be expected of everyone, not rewarded as if you’re doing something extraordinary; having a dress code is a stepping stone towards learning what’s appropriate attire for a workplace environment; and when a child gets a bad grade their parents should go in to talk to the teacher about how to help them improve, not to argue with the teacher and demand that they change their child’s grade.
I applaud the eternal attempt by parents to give their kids a better life than they had, but giving them better shouldn’t mean easier. Making a child’s environment safer shouldn’t mean surrounding them in bubble wrap by taking away any and all activities that just might possibly maybe lead to a bruise or two. Childhood is the time to learn cause and effect, to learn how to deal with a not so nice person, the time to teach them to be kind, the time to teach them how to accept when someone else wins the prize and how to be gracious when you are the one who wins the prize. Children who do not learn these important lessons grow up to be adults who still did not learn those lessons.
I know I’m just starting out in the parenting world, but I firmly believe that sheltering your kids from anything slightly negative does not help them in the long run. I hope that by the time my child reaches school age society will have gotten past this overprotective trend and be moving towards a middle ground. Let’s protect our kids, but let’s make sure they learn life’s important lessons too.