22 June 2013

8 – Why Falling Down Is Important

When I do watch TV it's the commercials that frustrate me the most. I'm often tempted to smash the TV with a bat, as these inspired souls did to their dreaded office printer. It looks like a great stress release, and the best part is no one gets hurt!

This festering, destructive urge returns every time I see this new spot promoting the Chevrolet Cruze. Take 30 seconds to watch it before we continue.
The car doesn't bother me. In fact, the spot would be better served by more focus on the car. It's Anna and David, the people who supposedly inspire Chevrolet to make safer cars, who irritate me. This commercial make me think two things: 1) Lucas will utterly reject and rebel against his parent's values when he's old enough to realize that he can, and 2) Lucas will be severely traumatized when he is criticized, hurt, or rejected for the first time in the big wide world beyond the 'Protective Parent Bubble.' I feel sorry for Lucas, and any kids out there being raised by 'Professional Parents.' They're raising kids who'll need professional help once they're done with them.

We're all given boundaries. First by our parents. Then by teachers. Then by bosses and supervisors. You get the idea. There's nothing wrong with them. They give us room to operate, space in which to make judgments of our own for better or for worse. They teach us to consider and appreciate the importance of consequences. Because every decision, whether good or bad, produces a consequence.

Boundaries are one thing. Denying kids exposure to experiences and environments of all sorts is another thing all together. Being told no and deprived of anything carrying the faint scent of risk stifles confidence and limits growth. Nobody gets better taking the safe and easy road. 

One day I'll have kids. And I'll do everything I can to protect them. But I'll also want them to learn how to protect themselves and bounce back from their mistakes. I know they'll fall and hurt themselves from time to time. That doesn't scare me. I just hope I remember to keep a supply of band-aids and Mercurochrome in the bathroom! What scares me is raising children who've never been exposed to any form of hardship or pain whatsoever. There's a greater lesson to be had from confronting risk and threats than avoiding them entirely. Firsthand experience is a great teacher. 

So am I saying you should throw your kids inside a burning building and leave them to their own devices? No, that's cruel. What I'm saying is this: sometimes the best way to learn not to smack your thumb with a hammer is to smack your thumb with a hammer. And sometimes the best way to learn to be careful on your bike is to fall off your bike and scrape your knees and elbows. Because if our children are denied the opportunity to fall down, they'll never learn how to pick themselves back up. And it may be the best thing we can let them learn before they set off on their own.

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