During lunch at a community event a few years ago, I participated in a casual conversation between three high school honors seniors and three retired senior citizens. The students were eighteen and the retirees averaged over seventy; a gap of over fifty years.
We retired seniors were describing what our youth had been like in the 1950ties. Mention was made that we played outside until the fire department whistle sounded curfew or the street lights came on at which time we went home without hesitation. Our parents rarely knew where we were during the day or exactly what we were doing. One of the high school seniors, speaking with a look of genuine disbelief on his face asked, “Weren’t you afraid?”
His question shook me when he asked it and has continued to bother me since; it was heartbreaking. Where does a question like that come from? Young people shouldn’t be burdened by fear-filled thoughts.
Too many of today’s parents are teaching their children to fear food (GMOs, gluten, dairy, peanuts), climate change, germs, vaccines, playground equipment and even the air they breathe. These are the parents who schedule and supervise “play dates” involving carefully selected playmates; no bullies allowed. These are the parents who keep their children inside with a cell phone and a Game Boy believing that is a safe practice. Their children will never climb a tree, fall out and break an arm. But their spirits will be broken and there is no cure for that.
Certainly there are things in life that we should fear if they occur. Thinking adults know when fear is appropriate based upon life experiences. However, young children fear what they are taught to fear. Those raised to fear everything will lack the judgment they will need to deal with real dangers that come into their lives. When they become parents or grandparents they will perpetuate that fear. And on it goes.