I hate bicycle helmets. They keep dumb kids alive. Rubber playgrounds keep kids ignorant of their mistakes. A skinned knee is a valuable lesson. And parents didn't supervise, no, they abandoned you at the playground. You had to learn to deal with the bully yourself. That's how you learn leadership skills. It's the fear of getting your ass kicked that makes you quick. Can't send your kid to school without a bottle of sanitizing gel, might catch the pox in the bathroom, build up the kid's immune system so they're not dependent on your medicine cabinet for sustenance. You fail and you feel bad about it, that's how you learn how to cope. Kids are never gonna leave their parents' basement, and we're letting it happen. When are you gonna get a job? "When you write a note to the employment agency telling them I'm not allowed to get fired because of my 'special needs.'"
You peel away the chrysalis from a butterfly, the wings never develop. Adversity is part of the equation. Growing up isn't supposed to be comfortable. Childhood has to be painful and disappointing, that's what makes you grow up and compete and figure things out. You have to feel the pressure so you learn how to push back. The possibility of death is what makes all living things adapt. "Dear Mister Frog: Please allow my baby butterfly a few extra seconds before you shoot out your tongue to devour him. He's very risk-averse and very fragile in moments of anxiety. It's your scars that make you who you are. It's what you've survived that proud of yourself. Kids didn't get excuses for taking tests because of their neuropsychological condition.
Of course college students are drinking and drugging more than ever, Mom's not writing excuse notes for them anymore, and Dad's not supervising their playtime! Kids are so coddled that college is the kid's first taste of playground freedom. Parents are now writing excuse letters for kids in college. "My kid needs to take tests without being timed, 'cos he has trouble with big-picture thinking." You know what the big picture is? Failure! Better now than in traffic, when the light changes and the truck driver behind you doesn't care about your "information integration problem." Kids all over colleges are being treated for anxiety and depression, like college is supposed to be stress-free. Exam stress is not a disorder. Your twenties are supposed to be about anxiety and depression, then you don't wanna be anxious and depresses, then you try binge drinking, drug abuse, church, whatever, until something works for you. Now you're strong.
You supervise your kids' play dates, they don't get to bond with other kids through danger. That's why college kids drink so much. I'm risking my life and making friends, and I'm not scared anymore! Wonderful booze."
Parents are harassing college professors about their kids' grades. Are they planning to call their kid's first boss when their kid comes home with a bad employee evaluation? "How dare you abuse my child with a satisfactory employee rating! He's clearly exceptional, if you were only sensitive to his special needs." So professors give everyone an A and we all end up dumbasses who work for Indian families flippin' samosas at the Curry Hut. Take the D in history! Suck it up, cowboy! Take your lumps. Get mad and get even. Find out what you're made of.
We teach kids that they can be anything they want to be. No they can't. There's a lot of slow and dumb in the rainbow. But they can learn to take a beating and give it back if you stop making excuses and protecting them from independence. Dear India: Please don't overrun our country with well-educated, ambitious young people. We've been writing excuses and doctor's notes for our kids for years, and they can't bear the emotional strain of the free market."
What happened to good-old parental neglect? Dad in the garage every free moment, hunched under the Camaro. "Go out and play! I'm twaddling the torque timer." Parents had hobbies. Woodburning, macrame, alcoholism. Now people's kids are their hobby, and parents are like Bob Vila on this Old House, and their kids are fixer-upper projects. "Welcome to This Old Today, the wife and I are still fashioning our child, ignorant of all pain and suffering, and completely dependent on us for all his self-esteem and decisions." If you have enough free time to supervise your kid's play date, you have too much free time. Cut the umbilical cord. Buy a boat. Join a club.
And when parents protect kids, kids protect parents. If parents protect their kids from the harsh reality of life, kids deal with harsh realities and don't tell their parents. My dad taught me to survive. He called me at college - "How's it goin', son?" "Dad, it burns when I pee." "Well, that's what the Health Center's for." "Oh, right. Say hi to Mom." That's honesty. You can't call Mom on the cell phone to get unfired from work. Mom writing a note is not a life strategy.
Funny thing, turns out that the number one cause of anxiety in children is hovering, overprotective parents. "Please excuse Jimmy from stress. He's overstimulated 'cos I can't stop examining him all the time and writing notes like this one."
News flash: You never stop being a parent, but parenting is actually supposed to end. Parenting isn't about protecting your kid from the world. It's about letting the world give your kid just enough stress to learn a little more every day how to stand up on their own. Just a little bit more risk, let 'em run out, hug 'em when they run back, shoo 'em out the door again. Teach 'em the world is not something to avoid, but life is something to explore a little bit more every day, on their own, without you there to pick them up so they can learn what picking themselves up feels like.
"Why won't my kids get married?" Hopefully, never, 'cos then they might breed more drones. They don't marry because they don't know how to date, 'cos Mom and Dad never left them alone long enough to learn how to make friends or fight for what they want.
Writing a kid a note excusing them from stress tells the kid that he or she is fragile and needs special protection. Kids know their parents are cheating for them. They can't earn anything on their own. Recess is important. It's not class, it's not playing unsupervised in the street, it's in-between. Recess is gone from a lotta schools. Recess is fun, but you think about it, you learned a lotta lessons at recess, didn't ya? All those lessons are gone from kids today.
News flash: parenting can be fun. Let your kids go out and play. When they come back crying, give them a hug, and ask them what they're gonna do about it, and kick their asses back out the door. Make a beverage. Watch what happens. Kid comes home, ask how it went. Kids aren't hobbies, they're experiments. Gotta let 'em run for a while. Kid comes home with a C in math, "Well, son, you're average. What're ya gonna do about it?" That's the Albert Einstein story.
And heaven forbid someone's 12-year-old kid gets a -shudder- job. Heaven forbid my kid takes orders from anyone other than me. Then he'll think for himself, and then what'll I do for a hobby?
How are your kids gonna learn to be competent if they don't learn what incompetent feels like, hate it, and dig out of their incompetence by themselves?
The kids who'll grow up and take over are the only kids who learned how to take care of themselves: poor kids. Natural selection's a bitch.