Are we Protecting our kids, …or Failing to Prepare them?

If today’s children truly are the leaders of tomorrow, we are going to have the most passive, ossified leaders in the history of the planet.

It’s no secret that the tree-climbing, BB-gun-shooting, rub-some-dirt-on-it ways of past generations bear no resemblance to today’s bubble-wrapped youth. Trying to eliminate pain of every kind, both physical and psychological, has resulted in a society where no one is supposed to keep score (even though kids still do), and games like Dodge Ball are widely banned.

But is this really healthy? Didn’t we all learn how to get back up after we fell? Didn’t we learn how to take a punch, or play through pain? Didn’t we figure out that scraped-up knees and elbows were a reasonable trade-off for seeing how fast you can run, or how high you can jump?

1970s - No Helmet

Not according to the risk averse, anti-fun squad otherwise known as today’s parents and educators: 

(via CBSNews.com) – A rash of playground injuries has prompted one Long Island, N.Y. school to ban balls and require teacher supervision for games like tag.

“Some of these injuries can unintentionally become very serious so we want to make sure our children have fun, but are also protected,” Dr. Kathleen Maloney, superintendent of Port Washington Schools, told CBS New York.

The ban at Weber Middle School in Port Washington, N.Y. will apply to footballs, baseballs, soccer balls, lacrosse balls or any other equipment that might harm a child or school friends.

Students will be allowed to play with softer Nerf balls.

Rough games of tag or cartwheels will require supervision from a coach, according to the report.

Cartwheels? Oh yeah: my school was awash in cartwheel-related injuries, as I recall.

Good grief, when I was a kid, the boys played a version of ‘Murder The Bum’: a ball was thrown up into the air, and the first guy to get to it ran like crazy, with every other boy trying to tackle him. And no, we weren’t playing with a foam ball, nor were we outfitted with protective padding or helmets.

Oh, and speaking of helmets:

(via NewJersey.com) – When sixth-graders in the Princeton school district head out onto the playing fields for team soccer, lacrosse and field hockey this autumn, their standard equipment will include for the first time protective headgear that school officials hope will reduce the incidence of concussive injuries.

Helmet - New Jersey schools

It’s a requirement that school officials hope to introduce in successively higher grades as the years go by, until students in sixth through 12th grades are all wearing headgear during those sports.

Helmets for hockey I get. Heck, helmets for football, or for batters/catchers in baseball makes sense. But soccer? Soccer? If this is the new standard, how long will it be before the eventual replacement of the sport itself with a PlayStation-4 “virtual” Soccer team? 

Of course, the kids will likely need protective padding for their tender backsides (due to prolonged periods of sitting)…but at least they’ll be “safe”!!!  

Bubble wrap kids

Not the biggest daredevil as a child, I still endured a (then) normal amount of falls, scrapes, bumps-n-bruises and bloody noses. Whether it was cracking skulls with a friend playing football, flying headfirst into metal pole (five stitches), or crashing my bike while furiously pedaling downhill in 10th gear (…hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time…), I nonetheless quickly learned what my limits were.

And that’s the key part: learning.

Boys and girls figure out their capabilities/capacities largely through playing, competing and just having fun. I’m not advocating zero rules or wildly unnecessary risks, but it needn’t be a zero-sum game, does it? By “protecting” them from any and ALL potential hazards, we create a much greater one: children who grow up without learning how to evaluate, handle, and overcome adversity.

After all, isn’t it our job to teach them life’s lessons, even the sorta painful ones? Don’t they need to develop the defenses, skills and sense of humor that adulthood demands? Don’t we OWE them that knowledge? Speaking as a former kid and a present-day parent of two smart, happy, healthy boys (both of whom are often sporting a bandage or bruise of some sort), I firmly believe we do.

Because the world isn’t filled with Nerf balls, and life doesn’t give you a helmet. 

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32 responses to “Are we Protecting our kids, …or Failing to Prepare them?

  1. Ugh. This kind of garbage was just ONE of the many reasons why I home-schooled my kids. And of course, in true lib logic fashion, these people are helping NO ONE with all their helmets and protective padding and every conceivable body-part “guard.” Why not simply teach your children about God and His perfect and undying love for them? Teaching kids about God’s mercy and compassion can and will help them learn to deal with any and every “adversity” a lot better than a “participation trophy” or softer Nerf balls.

    • We were certainly taught all about God, Wendee: early and often.
      And although we homeschool, too, that shouldn’t have to be the ONLY way to protect our kids from being “protected” to death.

      Sadly, it seems more and more that it is….

  2. Failing to prepare them.

  3. But you know, it’s the fault of the sue-happy people, a quick free buck.

  4. I recall a good many trips to the school nurse to get patched up. Nothing serious just the usual scrapes. Usual. Period.

    • Yep, same here. Our playground was a parking lot, so we had plenty of scrapes, falls, etc…. playing tag, baseball, football, and every other game you name.

      All my school pants had patches on the knees when I was little. My mom put them on the inside right after she bought them, to make them last longer…..

  5. “Because the world isn’t filled with Nerf balls, and life doesn’t give you a helmet.” I sure wish I could embroider, because I’d make a wall plaque out of that one! Perfect! Well said, bro! My boys weren’t daredevils either, but they took their share of risks (the younger son through PARKOUR, for heaven’s sake) and survived to adulthood. No broken bones, even!

    • Thanks, Sis. And same here: never broke a bone, amazingly. I credit that to the gigantic amounts of milk we consumed, actually…..

      And my boys are doing the same things: so far, so good.

  6. It gets better….

    Postal Service to Destroy Michelle O. ‘Just Move’ Stamp Series Over Safety Concerns
    (Maybe they’re afraid that we’ll lick ourselves to obesity. This is so stupid it’s funny. On the other side, I didn’t even know they existed.)

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/10/10/USPS-lets-move-stamps

  7. Great post, really makes me wonder what will happen when the kids of today are running the country.

    • I see and meet lots of kids out there, and there ARE some really solid young men and women being raised today: high character, high morals, high work ethic, etc.,…
      Unfortunately, they are greatly outnumbered by Generation Snowflake: kids who’ve never learned to compete, or struggle, or lose, or have ever experienced pain. And I fear those youngsters are in for a very, very rough time later on.

      God help us all if they get in charge, James.

      ****Of course, if Obama keeps “Fundamentally Change”-ing the nation for the next three years, we might not have a country to worry about by then….

  8. So friend, where did you dig up that picture of me on the Big Wheel? We used to ride skateboards down a steep hill on our belly. Ride our bikes barefoot with no shirt through the canyon trails behind our house in SoCal. Played tackle football with no pads or helmet on the paved street in front of the house.

    • Dude, if that IS you, you’re all OVER the internet!!!
      😀

      Yep, we did many similar things. Heck, we played in the street for years: frisbee, baseball, basketball. Jumped our bikes, climbed every tree, etc…
      The closest some kids will get to that today is if it’s included on a Video Game!

  9. I think about this a lot. I don’t feel that we are preparing them. I feel like we are protecting them too much. We are worried that they’ll get hurt. They will get hurt and we are not always there to cradle them. I’m not into hugging my young students if they fall. I tell them rub it and you’ll be fine. They aren’t major issues but little ones. How are they going to deal with real problems if everything is a major issue and we are running to rescue them. Life is full of problems and they need to deal with them. I see this with my next door neighbor. They are rarely outside. Parents are afraid to let them by themselves. Makes me sad to see how kids are being smothered.

    • Absolutely, DI. There’s a line between protecting and smothering, and it changes as they grow. Some parents either aren’t aware of the line, or don’t realize that it moves with age.
      They should, too: the line was there when THEY were being raised, after all…

  10. I should be dead from things I did, fell hanging from bars with my knees.
    Fell off a diving board trying to do some stunt, leaned against a wall while sitting on a table and moved the table away from the wall and head hit the floor, fell on my knees too many times digging for the volleyball. My parents were no where around.

  11. Generation Bubblewrap, is what I call it.

    My kids ate dirt, seldom if ever wore protective gear while on bikes, tackled each other, climbed trees, etc.

    Disclosure: I stuck a screwdriver in a live socket, AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE 😀

    Thanks for stopping by Sithy and liking my post 🙂

    • We can’t protect our kids from everything; we’re supposed to PREPARE them to be able to deal with stuff on their own.
      That subtle concept seems to have been lost on more than a few folks…

      BTW: I bookmarked your place, so I can keep checking in.
      Thank you, as well!

  12. I was a bit of a wimp at athletics; but did have a real Cossack saber in grade school! Hacked up a lot of cardboard boxes, rhubarb and brush. Never severed a limb or a head, but think of the possibilites!

  13. Oh they did stick me on the line for the football team in Junior High School for 8th and 9th grades. Mainly ’cause I weighed over 200 lbs and couldn’t get out of the way of the other team fast enough, so the quarterback was protected, even though I didn’t really want to protect him.

  14. I rode my bike off the roof of my house, shot my brother in the face with a BB gun, built a tree house (in a pine tree, and that’s an incredible feat), hunted, fished, let me brother drag me behind the car on a skateboard, tied shotgun shells to a stick with a BB taped over the primer and threw it straight up in the air, had Roman candle wars, bottle rocket battles……. do I need to go on? (Don’t you ever let my son read this — LOL!)

    This was all part of growing up, and the pain I felt after every ridiculously stupid thing I did is what helped mold me onto the man I am today….well that, and the many spankings I received.

    I’ll go on and say it: this generation of boys is being trained to be girls. LET YOUR BOYS BE BOYS!!!
    P.S. great blog JTR

    • Thanks, Slayer!
      The schools ARE definitely favoring girls over boys; it’s not even arguable to say otherwise. But both girls and boys are being raised in a way that is very foreign to the way we were, and it’s gonna cause ALL of us problems, I’m afraid…

  15. Priceless JTR. I did the 10th speed thingy down the side of a mountain lol. Didn’t break anything, but a few days in a row doing it, wore out the breaks and a couple of good sneaker soles. 😀 Dang, if they could see what we did back then, they’d all be in a hospital suffering massive fits lol.
    This is pitiful, and I feel sorry for kids today (not mine ’cause I let him play like a boy ought to) but sad.

    • Thanks so much, Duckie!

      It saddens me to see kids who’d LOVE to go have fun being “kept on a shelf”, like a hothouse flower.
      The memories these kids will have (not to mention their abilities and skill sets) are going to be woefully incomplete.

  16. Amen! My two kids (9 and 12) have both had broken arms. Son from falling out of a tree and daughter from karate. They wore that cast as a badge of honor and they are no worse for the wear. Let kids be kids for crying out loud!

    • A double ‘Amen’ to your “Let Kids Be Kids” statement, Cosmo!!

      In an effort to shield them from every nick, scrape, or sniffle, we’re raising kids who won’t be able to get out of their own way.
      No WONDER we had so many kids involved in Occupy Wall Street: adversity was always cleared away for them, and they expect it to be in the future, too.

      In the space of only 70 years, we’ve gone from the Greatest Generation to the Lamest Generation…
      😉

  17. Pingback: You’ll blog your eye out « Defy The Narrative

  18. It’s the wussification of the kids. Society is turning them into little china dolls that won’t be able to stand up to the real challenges of the world. They WILL, however, be good little government minions…

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