Are We Raising Children Not to Take Risks?

When I was young and living in Ann Arbor, I drove my bike to the local store, met friends ice skating at the open-air rink near the school, and even trick or treated with friends. I was 8. At nine, we lived in Arlington, VA, for a year. I walked to school alone and spent my afternoons hanging out with kids in a rag-tag neighborhood surrounded by woods and shacks. When I was ten, we moved into a new contemporary house development that was not quite finished. The neighborhood gang drove our bikes everywhere. We wandered around the houses being built, climbing up to the roofs scattered with nails, hammers, and random equipment. We found old shacks in the woods and set things on fire.

I could hardly wait to drive and get out of the suburbs, but that does not seem to be the way of the world these days. Kids are not driving, rewarded for everything they do, and sheltered from risk-taking. Is it because of social media? Is it fear that is being foisted upon us by the media? Is it parents not wanting to have their kids find themselves? Is it the ease of availability on our apps, from shopping to Uber?

Growing up, I read every single book my parents owned. Now fearful conservative parents are banning books so they control their children not knowing the reality of the world? Campaigns to ban sexual education are expanding. If children don’t know about it, they won’t have sex?

Freedom to find yourself starts young. The helicopter parent began to excel in the 90s when parents made it their job to sweep in and rescue their children from all disappointments or painful experiences. God forbid one should have to experience failure.

Life is never easy, and shielding the youth from reality will only create lost adults who are risk-averse and never leave the nest. Each generation tries to right the supposed wrongs of their parents. I hope we have hit rock bottom in keeping our kids from reality because we will raise a generation of scared, bland, unimaginative children. It is just not a good look.