I’ve received two e-mails like this one of late from proud baby boomers reveling in their childhoods. How they dodged fetal alcohol syndrome, didn’t die from the use of only one cutting board in the kitchen, learned rejection firsthand without Prozac, and suffered the iron hand of discipline. And they liked it.

Honestly, I get the spirit in which it was intended. I do. Those were the good old days.

But… is it just me, or do the creators of these e-mails — and perhaps the people busy forwarding them around? — seem to be sticking their thumbs in their ears and wiggling their fingers just a little?

Oh, how I appreciate the value of playing outside with friends, solving problems, dealing with disappointment. I want the same opportunities for my children.

But when I send my children out to play, the world is a much different place than it was, even when I was a kid. Yes, I’m hesitant to let my son walk down the block by himself. There are crazy people out there (I don’t know how or why that seems to have changed so drastically) and there isn’t a housewife at every front door with one eye on the neighborhood.

Yes, you bet my son wears a helmet every time he rides his bike, even with the training wheels. Yes, my children both ride in five-point harness car seats and will until they’re…15. Yes, I have tried to rid our home of plastics containing BPA. Yes, I will refuse to cook meat in our home because cancer and heart disease and diabetes all run in our family and I think fruits and vegetables are a healthier alternative. I don’t care if you look at me funny. There are risks worth taking, and none of these risks is worth it to me.

The word “parenting” didn’t exist back in the day, certainly not in terms of an industry. Now we shoot “right ways” and “wrong ways” to discipline/educate/potty train our children back and forth like illegal (at least in Illinois) bottle rockets. In the quest to provide the best for our kids, some of us have lost sight of what they truly need. Responsibility. Self respect and respect for others. Determination. The list goes on, and no, Play Station 7 is not on it.

Why waste the innovation and new ideas of the past 50 years? Why not learn from mistakes, even if we invent new mistakes in the process? Isn’t that what “progress” is all about?

Yes, our parents were lucky (Brave? More like blissfully ignorant.), but so are we. Our kids are, too.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to suit up my children in their respective BPA-free plastic bubbles with closed-circuit cameras and 911 satellite linkups so they can go outside to play.

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