Walking down the street last week, I passed by an elementary school. In front was a flight of six concrete stairs with a small child playfully bounding down them. The mother sternly cautioned the child to “be careful going down the stairs." What? They are stairs. If you child can’t successfully navigate six measly stairs, how can you possibly expect them to grow up and succeed in this perilous world?
Coddling, the opposite of roughhousing.
I grew up in Colorado Springs on the fringe of rural development and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. My friends and I went outside to play, to climb trees, build forts, throw rocks, and roll around in the dirt. Sure, we got hurt. We came home with cuts, scrapes, black eyes, and stories conjured up in the depths of our wild imaginations. We were creative and we knew how to occupy a spare hour or four without a tiny handheld computer. Our parents were often at work, expecting us to not only return home before dinner but to have to cleaned enough of the filth off of us as not to dirty up the kitchen chairs. Our parents wanted us to be safe, but they had realistic expectations of what that meant and what a little blood would teach us about life. At no time did they #coddle us.
If you can’t walk down the stairs what can you do?
I could not help but think to myself what was going to happen to this child as he grew up. Would he be coddled when he scraped his knee in little league? When he got hit by a pitch in high school ball would his mother be there to ice the bruise? Would she be there to console him when he got turned down by a woman, got turned down for a job, or got fired? Or would he grow up being so unprepared for the uncertainty in life that he’d be the next person to fall victim to Pokémon Go?
Suck it up buttercup!
Parents need to be compassionate, and of that there is no doubt. But there is a line. There is a point at which you need to let your child fall down the stairs in order to learn valuable life lessons like paying attention to your surroundings and preparing yourself for challenges in front of you. Embracing a little pain in order to toughen up should not be something parents want to protect their kids from. One thing is abundantly clear for the up and coming generation, Generation Z, your iPhone will not spare you from pain and loss so you’d damn well better start preparing yourself for the inevitable. One of the most valuable lessons your parents should be leaving you with is one that Isaac Newton taught us all: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Your virtual reality mask is still virtual. Steve Jobs can’t get you a job, a date, or a backbone. You need to learn to communicate and interact with real people; the future of mankind depends on it. #responsibility #Adulting