Raising Children to Become Fearful Adults.

While moving hay for the horses tonight at the community barn, I asked Brookie if she would like to hop on the tractor with me.

Not 30 seconds after she got on, two ladies came running over to say that it was a safety concern for her to ride on the tractor with me.

Really? It’s just a little, slow moving tractor. Its not like it’s combine.

I asked if maybe she was safer on the tractor with me rather than putting a 4 year old on the ground alone where she might get stepped on by a horse or run over by a car?

No, they both agreed that the ground was the lesser of the two evils. So I got out of the tractor and put Brookie in the car where I felt she’d be the safest. I made my adventurous little ginger agree to stay put before I reluctantly left her there.

Back in the tractor, I had to wonder to myself, when did we become such a fearful society?

When did we become more content with children playing on iPads in a car rather than riding on a tractor and embracing adventure?

We are afraid of germs, dirt and double dipped chips.

We are afraid of vaccinating our children and we are afraid of not vaccinating them.

It’s not safe to climb trees. Mud might give you a skin infection.

Don’t play at the playground because whooping cough is going around and there was a kid there last week with the sniffles.

Horses are dangerous at both ends and unpredictable in the middle, motorbikes kill, dogs bite and cats have worms.

The sun will give you cancer but so will sunscreen. Mosquitos will give you West Nile but DEET will kill you too.

Don’t do a cartwheel at school because if you hurt yourself, the school will get sued. Don’t throw a snowball because you might have accidentally scooped a rock up with the snow.

Don’t jump off the high diving board with a life jacket on because it might float up around your neck and choke you. But don’t jump off the pool deck without a life jacket because you might drown!

When did we come so ridiculous?

Is it any wonder that we are surrounded by adults who are terrified to be in a relationship and terrified not to be in one? They are terrified to take risks and follow their dreams. Terrified to take a promotion and terrified to turn one down. Terrified of commitment and terrified of ending up alone at the end of their lives. Terrified to drive on the freeway and terrified to fly.

We are so afraid of real life and real interactions that we have begun to hide behind screens, living totally fake lives. We use the screens as walls so that we don’t have to deal with conflict or acknowledge that we may have hurt someone. Cutting off communication by blocking someone from your Facebook page or ignoring their texts is the new form of “conflict resolution”.

The thing that frightens me is this: what will society look like when my daughters are grown if it is this dysfunctional now?

Alone, I can’t change the world and make it a softer, kinder more loving place for my children and future grandchildren. But if we all started by simply letting children be children -getting them outside and in touch with nature, dirty and free – it would be a pretty good start!


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