WMCB should like this one from Paula Bolyard at Bra and Panties Media:
When our first son was born in 1991 we were told to lay him on his tummy at naptime — never, ever on his back because it would increase his risk of choking and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). By the time our second child came along in 1994 the experts had decided that parents should never, ever let their children sleep on their stomachs because it increased the risk of choking and SIDS. A month after he was born the experts told us that we needed to buy a wedge that forced our son to sleep on his side. This would prevent choking and lower the risk of SIDS. Thus was our introduction to our generation’s obsession with hypervigilant parenting.
When I was growing up (mostly in the ’70s), my parents had no idea where my brother and I were or what we were doing most of the day when school was out. During the summer, we’d leave the house in the morning and wouldn’t return until dinner time, often at the behest of our parents. After dinner we would play outdoors until it got dark. If our parents wanted us to come home, they would shout our names out the back door (our more refined neighbors would turn on the porch light). If we were out of earshot or ignored their calls, there were consequences miserable enough to keep us close to home the next time.
We organized epic neighborhood kick-the-can marathons and kickball games without the help of our parents. We settled squabbles and rivalries with heated arguments that sometimes led to shoving matches — or if a really egregious injustice had been committed, we hurled rocks. We participated in some organized sports, but they were not the center of our parents’ universe — a lawn in need of mowing generally took precedence over a softball game. Because we only had one car and my dad drove it to work every day, if we wanted to go to the local pool or the library (2 miles away) we rode our bikes (sometimes two to a bike), walked, or even roller skated.
Somehow, we survived all this independence and freedom, mostly unscathed. And somehow, we managed to produce some of the greatest innovators the world has ever know. I realize that we can’t go back — we live in a day and age when busybody neighbors will call social services if they see your kids unattended in the wild.
But it’s worth thinking about the consequences of raising a generation or two of bubble kids and definitely worth considering how we can give our kids more unstructured time to invent, to create, and to imagine — to just be – free from structure and hovering helicopter parents. Because it’s becoming apparent that all the hovering and over-parenting, rather than helping our kids, has led to a generation of approval-seeking, naval-gazing, adult dependents who cannot navigate the world of adulthood without Buzzfeed or a government official telling them what to do and what to think about everything.
By current standards everyone born before the Gen-X/Millenial generations was abused AND neglected, and yet most of us still managed to have happy childhoods. We were Tonka tough. We were like superheroes.
Car seats? We didn’t even have seatbelts! When we weren’t climbing on something we were jumping off it. Before I reached high school I don’t think I had a single pair of pants I didn’t wear out the knees on, including my Sunday school pants I wasn’t supposed to play in.
We were expected to watch out for ourselves. We not only crossed the street by ourselves, we played in it. We swam without lifeguards, sometimes in pools, often in the creek. We didn’t have floaties either. We played tackle football without pads or helmets. We had dirt clod fights. We played a game we called “smear the queer” that was basically a cross between rugby and tag.
We got our hands swatted, our faces slapped and our butts spanked, and not always by our parents. If the neighbor lady smacked your bottom for misbehaving you didn’t tell your parents because they would beat your ass too. I got whipped with belts, metal flyswatters and an occasional “switch” which was basically a tree limb trimmed up to maximize the stimulus to a kid’s gluteal region. And by “gluteal region” I am referring to the area from the hamstrings to the thoracic vertebrae.
I shudder to think how I would have turned out if the maximum penalty I was facing was a “time out”, although I got those too.
Sometimes we needed medical attention to repair the damage we inflicted on ourselves and each other. Bruises my get a rub and a kiss. My grandma used to treat scrapes and scratches with “salve,” which I later found out was made for treating horses. It smelled horrible and stung like hell. My mom liked to use merthiolate, which was this magical red stuff that was supposed to fix anything. (Later the FDA decided it wasn’t safe and banned it.)
Every so often one of us required professional attention, for stitches or a cast. This was considered very cool, and you got to show it off to everybody. (Chicks dig scars) But our injuries never seemed to slow us down for long.
Today’s kids have been pussified. Even the girls back then were tougher than the boys are now, and they wore dresses!