A topic came up the other day on this blog, and I have been thinking about it ever since.
Do we over shelter our kids in America?
I believe many of us do.
Some of us have somehow come to believe that it is our duty to shelter our kids (and ourselves!) from every discomfort. From every pang of want.
We spoil. Oh yes, many of us do. No one wants to be called out on it, but oh! How we spoil. (I am SO included here.) We forget to teach our children to work hard and obtain goals. We lower the bars. We lift them up. They swing lazily and quickly get bored.
I worry for the generations coming up behind me. And even the generation I am in. Where are the strong men going to come from with a history like that? A history of watered-down reality? Where will be the men who know the value of hard work? Or the women who are full of assurance and can pick out a rotten apple from a mile away… kicking it to the curb because she knows she deserves only the choicest of fare?
I believe we over shelter when we accept the mentality that our kids should have a carefree existence… When we bend over backwards and break ourselves in half (financially? emotionally?) in the name of their constant happiness. When we rip off the heads of those who step on their toes. (we blame this one on the ‘mother bear instinct’.) When we hide our children’s eyes from the real world instead of teaching them how to grow to be tenacious men and women within it.
I am not saying you should go and expose your small children to the horrors of the nightly news or even the mind-numbing ads on TV that constantly berate them with the fact that they are not good enough as they are. I’m not saying you should let your children juggle knives or wander the streets alone for hours on end.
Of course I am not saying that. We are called to protect them from harm. But I think some of us let our fear take the upper hand and we end up ‘protecting’ them from life.
I believe that we are called to lead our children through the world by strong example. We should turn OFF the tv and engage in conversation with our friends and neighbors- with people who are different than us and don’t share every single belief that we do. We should exemplify lives of adventure and risk. We should show them that we love our bodies and that we love who we are so they can learn to look in the mirror and do the same. We should live vibrantly, casting off fear, so that they can follow suit. We should talk them through hardships and pain and heartache with wisdom and the experience of having been there ourselves.
Because that’s the truth! We’ve all been there ourselves! By trying to shield our kids from pain, we may be ultimately failing to prepare them for it. It WILL come. Sooner or later, we all face harsh realities. And if our kids don’t have a realistic base to stand on when those very real realities show up, they are going to resort to the only model they have been shown… they will search for the easy way out every single time. They will think the world owes them everything they desire, a bump-free path, and they will never become the strong history-making men and women we all desire them to be.