I have seen a bunch of Facebook threads in the last twenty-four hours complaining about school closures. Most have featured comments along the lines of “They never would have called a snow day for this when I was a kid!”
Yeah, snow days suck for parents, especially coming right after Christmas break and a lot of cold weather when we have all been stuck inside with our kids for what seems like (or in some cases actually is) a month. Some of this grousing is garden-variety “Kids these days!”-type curmudgeonry, but these discussions always make me wonder why so many people seem so intent on having stuff be as bad for their kids now as it was for them growing up.
Why is the response not “Wow—good thing kids now don’t have to stand out waiting for the bus or walk to school in dangerously shitty weather like I did”?
Some years ago, there was a controversy involving some sportsball personality hitting his kid. Sending kids to school in cold weather is obviously not the same as child abuse, but many of the responses were surprisingly similar—“My parents hit me when I was a kid and I turned out fine!” I'm sorry that happened to you, but how about no kids getting hit by their parents, or by anyone else for that matter?
In general, I am confused and frustrated by the school of thought that says kids are better off learning early that the world is a terrible place and that life is hard. Over the course of my career as a parent, I have received presumably well-intentioned advice that I ought not to shelter my kids, that they need to learn that they are not going to have everything they want handed to them, that the world doesn’t care about their feelings, that they’re not always going to have someone to go crying to.
While it may be true that life is not all play and that, over the course of their lives, my kids will run into no shortage of jerks who don’t care about their feelings, I have never seen the value in teaching them that lesson right out of the gate. Kids should not be overly sheltered or given every single thing they want, but they are, in fact, actual human beings with their own inner emotional lives that ought to be respected. While I want them to be prepared for life’s hardships and challenges, I want them to go into those lessons knowing that there are people who love them and support them, and that no, not everything is shitty.