Trial & Error- Tales From the Edge of Parenting – Protecting Your Young
As all married couples have found over the years, we're each uniquely different from our significant other in many ways. Musical tastes, TV preferences & vacation destinations are a few of the areas a married couple may differ. What happens, however, when the differences involve how to raise the kids?
From how to discipline the kids, to what religion the kids should be raised under, there are countless things a married couple can disagree on when it comes to those precious bundles of joy. The whole process is a give-and-take, but ultimately the desired result is the same... the well-being of the children.
One of the hot topics in my home (and I'm sure that of homes worldwide) is that of protection. Protection doesn't necessarily just mean a .45 under the bed. Protection also refers to the shows our kids can watch, the music that can be listened to and the video games that can be played. Most people are surprised to learn that I'm rather conservative when it comes to what the kids come across on TV/internet. I can't believe the 180-degree turn I took once I had kids. I used to scoff at parents that protected their children from bad language & violence on TV & in music, but now the majority of my day is spent keeping the kids away from the despicable internet.
I resisted the urge for the longest time to keep my oldest son (now 10) away from 1st-person shooter games. Mom let him play while they were visiting family on vacation. I wouldn't let him watch wrestling because I thought it taught aggression & the wrong way to deal with confrontation (laugh it up, if you must). Mom let him watch it, and I ended up being the poor sap that had to take him to a live wrestling event in San Antonio even though I hate wrestling.
My wife and I reverse rolls when it comes to everything not related to multimedia. I think both boys should be allowed a little freedom to roam and explore our neighborhood as long as they're with each other. I think they should be able to play basketball in the street (we live on a cul-de-sac), while she worries there's a windowless van just waiting around the corner. I think the older son should be allowed to ride his bike to the park that sits just outside our neighborhood and doesn't require crossing anything other than residential streets.
I also feel very strongly that my boys should have to deal with failure. How a person deals with failure is what makes or breaks a man. My wife wants to be the mama bird that keeps her babies in the nest and protected from all the bad things found in the world. While I'm not going to allow my boys to embarrass themselves, I'm also not going to prevent them from learning the hard way in situations that come their way. In a way, I guess I'm protecting them in the future by preparing them to deal with bad situations that will come their way. They'll be lost if they don't learn to deal with the curve balls life can throw at them.
To be honest, parenthood isn't necessarily about trying to do what's best for the kids, it's more about not being left shouldering the blame if something goes wrong. I don't want to argue with my wife about letting the boys play in the field behind our house only to have one of the boys get eaten by a mountain lion. I don't want to be the parent that lets his kid mow the neighbor's yard only to find out he's got bodies in a deep freeze in the garage. It's a scary world, and I don't want to be left as the one to blame.