Monday, May 16, 2016

Parenting Sure Has Changed

There are always memes going around on the Internet about what life used to be like "when we were kids" and how coddled today's children are. I have to say that I agree with most of them. While I do believe that seat belts and bike helmets are a step in the right direction, there are a lot of other changes that I think are not only unnecessary but downright ridiculous.

1. Don't Get Hurt
Ah, the line at recess to get onto a swing. The taller the swing set the better as this meant you could launch yourself even further in the hopes of winning the competition to see who could fly the furthest when jumping completely out of the seat. If you could fly all the way out onto the grass, you were the ultimate champion. Now? All schools (in Washington State anyway) have taken out all swing sets to "keep kids safe" - and undoubtedly schools protected. I just don't know how a kid can grow up without knowing the feeling of those few moments of free-fall as your swing left your butt in it's decent back to bottom of the swing arch, and you felt your stomach leap into your throat. Playing on the swings, climbing trees, taking your bike off jumps - these are all rights of passage in a kids life. We shouldn't keep them wrapped in bubble wrap for fear they will get hurt. That's the amazing thing about the human body. It heals. And, they make some pretty awesome band-aids these days.

2. Go Play Outside.
I can't tell you how many times we heard this growing up.... and frankly my kids as well. It was good to be out getting exercise and fresh air. I would wake up on a summer morning, go out and round up the neighborhood gang, and sometimes my mom wouldn't see me again until I got hungry - and then it occasionally wasn't even until it got dark because we would pick up food here and there at whoever's house we were closest to at the time. I very rarely hear kids playing outside any more. Is it unsafe to let your kids play outside? OF COURSE NOT!! Nay sayers would like you to believe that the world has become a dangerous place. It isn't any  more dangerous than it was when we were kids, and as a matter of fact studies have been done to prove that it is in fact safer now than it ever has been. Kick those kids to the curb and get them outside!

3. Children's Taxi Services.
This is a big one for me. When my daughter was 10 her best friend lived about three blocks over. She meandered over there all the time to play. Did her friend ever walk over to our house? Nope. Mom drove her and picked her up when she was ready to come home. She lived 3 BLOCKS away!!! I would hop on my bike and ride a mile or more to get to my friends house. In 5th grade I lived on the very outskirts of a big city and had to walk to school, on a busy road (no, it wasn't in the snow, barefoot both ways.... why?). If I wanted to go down to the public pool in the summer to go swimming with my friends I had to walk. The parents waiting to pick up their kids from school in the afternoon look like the back-up on the freeway during rush hour. I understand that sometimes you have to pick up a kid for a doctors apt occasionally, but hundreds of kids need to be picked up? Why aren't they riding the bus or walking?! Our parents didn't drive us anywhere, ever. We walked or rode our bikes. I think kids need to use their own devices to get places a little more often. 

4. Allowance.
I never got allowance, and neither did my kids. I had a very hard time paying my kids for something that is just plain responsibility when you are part of a family. You help out by cooking dinner, doing dishes, vacuuming the floor an making your bed. That's what makes a family function properly - everyone doing their part. You shouldn't be paid for that! If that was the case I would be a very rich woman right now. With that said, I did give my kids extra chores they could do to earn money to go to the movies or do special activities with their friends. I didn't just hand over money all the time for nothing - washing the car or weeding the garden would definitely get you a little green in the pocket for whatever extra you might need.

5. Birthday Parties.
Holy Cow!! Some of these kids are having more extravagant birthday parties than my own wedding. Thousands of dollars are being spent on Fun Center rentals, bouncy houses, entertainment and catering. We got to have a few friends over (usually restricted to 2-3), got to pick what we wanted for dinner, and then had cake and ice cream. Done. I did give my kids special birthdays for special years: sweet 16 and turning 21 to name a couple, but as a general rule it was kept small and simple. It made those mile-stone birthdays all the more special because they weren't the regular occurrence, they were... well, special.

So many people rant about how uncontrollable, disrespectful and entitled "kids today" are. Well, it all starts in the home, with how that kid is raised. Respect is a learned behavior and someone isn't going to feel entitled to a bunch of stuff if they aren't used to having it in the first place. Raise your kids with love, responsibility and expectations and they will almost always raise to the task. And, for God's sake, take off the bubble wrap and let your kids be kids! A skinned knee is all part of growing up.

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