“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
"Safety First," I've heard that phrase a million times, but usually not in my house. My kids have both said it to me, but not more than a couple of times. Undoubtedly they heard it in school or perhaps someone on TV said it. Safety is, generally speaking, good, but it is not first or second or third. I'm not the only one who thinks this, I'm not some nutcase on the fringe of society saying dumb and stupid things, at least not in this case.
The New York Times recently reported that in Britain some are beginning to put objects in playgrounds that might be considered by some to be dangerous. In these playgrounds you might find a variety of tools like saws and knives. Now certainly these things aren't used without supervision by adults, but they are available nonetheless. You might also find mud, bricks, 2x4s, and other such things. The reasoning is simple, kids have been protected so much that they don't understand risk. Maturity in decision making requires a risk benefit analysis, but how can you make those kinds of analysis without some kind of experience.
The reality is that kids might get hurt once and a while, but there are a lot of lessons to be learned from failures and the consequences of those failures. Cuts, scrapes, and bruises are a good and necessary part of childhood. To deprive children of those things is to deprive them of toughness, resilience, and common sense. I am thankful for my daughters experience of falling of a horse and fracturing five ribs and a bone in her back. She learned what it was to get hurt, what it was to live through it, and what it was to get back on the horse again (literally). Cuts, bruises, scrapes and even broken bones all cary with them important lessons.
It's not just Britain that is making these observations, watch this video from PragerU
It is not true that safety leads to happiness. Quite often the opposite is true. Learning how to accept appropriate risk for the sake of the right kind of benefit leads not only to common sense, wisdom, and discernment, it often leads to happiness.
No parent is perfect and upon reflection there are probably many things I would do a little different. While I haven't necessarily been over protective, I would probably find ways to expose my kids to more appropriate risk if I had to do it all over again. Perhaps we, as a society, can begin to allow a little more risk for our kids.
Students are walking out around the nation tomorrow mostly to demand that gun laws change as a result of the shooting in Parkland. My previous post dealt with the email I got from my school district and how they were going to deal with this issue. I was not happy to say the least, and I'm still not. I want to be part of the solution as much as possible, so here are 5 ideas that are better than a walk out.
Where have the adults gone? This is a serious question! I just received an email from Jefferson County Public Schools telling me that they are working with students to plan walkouts on March 14th. Excuse me? This is absolutely wrong! It's one thing for students to walk out, it is another for the administration to work with them.
I will get into the details of the email and the significant problems with it in a minute, but first a little rant. I am not sending my son to school so he can learn how to walk out. I am not sending my son to school so he can work with the teachers and administration to get out of homework. I am not sending my son to school so he can learn to throw temper tantrums in a more civilized manner. I am not sending my son to school so he can learn how to protest. Quite simply I am sending my son to school so he can learn math, science, history, etc. Stop indoctrinating kids in the schools with all of this nonsense!
Okay, now to the email. It begins by saying, "Here in Jeffco, there are plans for student demonstrations during school and in the evening on March 14th. Though the district takes no position on these types of issues, we are respectful of everyone’s right to express their opinion peacefully." This isn't a bad start, I am glad they are informing me as a parent that these plans exist so I can talk to my son and express my expectations to him. It is notable that they take time to say that they take no position...they are Switzerland. Are they really Switzerland though?
The email goes on to say, "We have worked with our school and student leaders in planning for March 14th - keeping our students as safe as possible and making sure these events are well-organized, orderly, and timely." If you take no position, why are you helping the students plan it? I know what the answer is, but I find it very problematic. The answer is that they want students to be safe while they protest. This is not the schools job! The truth is the schools are supporting the position of the students by HELPING them plan the protest. This is not what taking no position looks like. When you help plan it, you are supporting it, you are taking a position whether you intended to or not. If you want these students to learn how to be adults and how to protest, tell them to do it on their own time like they would have to if they had a job.
A little later in the email 3 expectations are presented, here is the first one:
Yep, I am upset! Where are the adults who tell the students to attend class as expected and if they really want to understand protest then they can experience the consequences of protesting as well. If they want to get signs and protest after school off school grounds, fine. If they want to call the news channels and do interviews, fine. If they want to lobby politicians, fine. If they want to start non-profits to support whatever changes they want, fine. If they want to walk out of class, fine, as long as they are willing to face appropriate consequences like detention, suspension, or whatever.
We are teaching our kids to throw tantrums in a "peaceful, respectful, and tolerant" manner.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.