Father’s Day. Like Mother’s Day, it is just another in a long string of Hallmark holidays meant to get all the children of the world to buy a card and a gift for one of the two most important people in anyone’s life, their parents. It always makes me think of my own father, who passed away 4 years ago, and all the things that he taught me. Now, a lot of people say that, that they thank their parents for all they taught them however, I would say for some people, maybe most people, that’s a bunch of bullshit.
Most people simply don’t think, were never taught how to think, and when it comes to their children they certainly aren’t teaching them to think, either. When we are living in a world where one of our greatest sources of entertainment is watching some kids on the New Jersey shoreline take shots until their clothes come off, I start to worry about the state of the world. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that only dumb people don’t show their children how to think. Smart people do it too, all the time. Take, for instance, baby-proofing.
Everything about raising a child now is focused on safety, safety, safety. I recently baby proofed my home since I now have a toddler who is into absolutely everything. There is a safety device for, literally, every item in my home…literally. Front door? Handle Lock. Stove? Oven door lock, knob locks, burner guards. Refrigerator? Door lock. Toilet? Lid lock. Every door in my home? Finger guards and knob locks. Cabinets? Cabinet locks. It’s ridiculous. I found myself asking as I was walking through the official ‘be afraid’ section of the store, “What happened to us simply teaching our children not to touch the stove?” It all made me think that this all simply proves that 1) parents are now too lazy/busy to actually discipline and teach their children and/or 2) we are way too overly obsessed with safety.
Now, I’m not Jeff Foxworthy, and I’m not suggesting you simply watch your kid pull the TV on their head or put the penny in the light socket “He’ll learn”, no, I’m simply saying that we should be focusing on teaching our children to think not simply take away their ability to hurt themselves. That day in the safety section I only bought cabinet locks, to keep him out of the chemicals under the sink. I will eventually get a knob lock for the front door once he can reach it so that he doesn’t sneak out of the house in the middle of the night (I’m assuming my son will be smart enough to decipher the door lock). Other than that, I can handle teaching him not to do everything else that someone wants to sell a product to me to protect against. Eventually, he will be able to decide for himself what is safe and what isn’t due to proper guidance from his parents. I’m dedicated to my kid not being the toy swallower and paste eater. Although paste is incredibly delicious (or at least it was when I was 6 or 7. Rubber cement is also one of the best smells on Earth) so, I kinda don’t blame paste eaters.
Show your kids how to make choices. Let them get into some trouble to learn lessons. They will bump their head a couple times, they will take tumbles, they will pull things over. That’s how kids learn. If we simply put bumpers all around their world how will they ever become adults who can avoid danger? If we never allow our children to make decisions and choose to avoid something, with our guidance of course, then how will they ever learn to think for themselves?
The purpose of parenting is to produce a functioning and successful member of the human race. To produce one who has the potential to make a difference in the world. In my opinion, coddling and protecting to a fault doesn’t help produce this effect. Coddling and over-protection produces someone co-dependent who is ready to be a sheep. My goal is to help shape an independent and rational man someday when my little boy grows up. For now, I will kiss his boo-boos to make them better but I will not stop him from playing and exploring for himself just because he got a bump or a bruise. Bumps and bruises are part of growing up. Our scars all taught us something and in that process we also learned how to make decisions, how to understand our environment, and how to avoid that boo-boo in the future. We learned how to think. We should all have that as a goal; children who can think and consequently a more rational set of adults in about 10-20 years.