Monday, February 02, 2009

One for Parents

You'll turn my son into a murderer!
-Mother of a fellow scout thirty years ago when Scoutmaster Poppawether taught the troop how to make knives out of old saw blades.

I've been following an interesting thread over on the Equipped to Survive Foundation forums. An assistant scoutmaster wants to teach his troop a class on wilderness survival. Unfortunately, several of the scouts' parents reacted poorly to this. When they learned the scouts would be using knives and spending a night alone in the woods the parents threw up a lot of resistance. The main arguments against such a class was that a kid might cut himself with a knife and that learning how to butcher a small animal would be too gruesome and traumatic. The parents couldn't understand why their kids would ever need to know this stuff.

Some things never change except to get worse. There were one or two parental units like this looming over my scout troop decades ago. They thought us Boy Scouts should never carry (or make!) knives, that the adults should handle all the fire building and campfire cooking, that the scout camp shooting range would turn us into trained killers.... Basically, that we shouldn't do anything that they consider to be hard, dangerous or scary.

In the thread that inspired this post are story after story of parents trying to prevent scouts from being scouts. They wanted to wrap their kids in foam rubber and "keep them safe".

Apparently not allowing your child to learn how to properly use tools is "keeping them safe".

Apparently preventing your child from learning what to do if they get lost in the woods is "keeping them safe".

Apparently denying your child the chance to learn proper gun safety and handling under a highly control atmosphere is "keeping them safe".

Apparently leaving your child without the skills and knowledge to handle an emergency is "keeping them safe".

Apparently believing that their children will never, ever go off somewhere without "adult" supervision is "keeping them safe".

Here's a newsflash for you overly placental parents: AT SOME POINT YOUR "CHILD" WILL NOT BE UNDER "ADULT" SUPERVISION!!!

At some point your child will be a teenager/college student/young adult/parent and there's a an excellent chance that he'll end up going off somewhere without you. Maybe a ski trip, maybe a road trip, maybe to a secluded beach with the girl of his dreams...

Someplace wild.

How wild? Well, there might be drinking. Maybe a bonfire. Perhaps some of the others will bring along some guns to shoot...

Or maybe it's just a flat tire in the middle of nowhere or a sudden storm tipping the boat. A change in the weather bringing in thick fog...

Now what happens?

A fellow forum member/scoutmaster had the best argument to these overly protective parents and I now quote it:

"Today, as parents, they have a choice. They can allow their boys to participate in Scouting, and have their first experiences in the wilderness be with a safety net of people that have training and experience to allow them to make mistakes, and learn, but with some guard rails. Hopefully this makes them better prepared to deal with it later in life safely. Or, option 2 is to refuse to let them participate now, and then when they are on their own, and the parents can't tell them "No" anymore, they do it anyway, except now they are going into the woods with a very young adult's mind and judgment, with their drunk buddies, with no personal experience or training, and no trained leaders to provide coaching and guidance."

A parent is supposed to teach their child how to deal with life, not hide them from it. To do otherwise is to cripple them.

Adventure! Excitement! Parenting Done Right!


Wildcat said...

You hit the nail on the head with this one Bro. Then when their adult child dies in the woods, lost, with nothing in his pocket but a cell phone, they get mad at the rangers/rescuers for taking too long to find them in the blinding snow.


wdancer said...

Awesome post. I am starting to think I grew up in the last of the "Old School" Scouts. We did all the fun "dangerous" stuff in my troop. As long as we kept Timmy away from the camp axe, there was no accidents (he cut off part of his meaty part on the thumb playing with it.)

I am definitely better equipped for emergencies better than most guys younger than me seem to be able to, and I'm only 31.

Brad said...

We didn't do the knife making or gun shooting, but everything else in the woods, sure. I'm pretty sure my Mom would have not blinked if told they were going to teach me how to do either. Smart lady, my Mom. Heck, I'm all for age appropriate training in knife use and gun handling.

Now, off to wrap Baba's Baby in bubble wrap so she doesn't get hurt while playing with the dog.

Mike_H said...

Unfortunately, I often fight these same battles with my DW. I try to tell her that knowledge is power and that I would rather teach my DS the proper use of these tools before he decides he is going to teach himself and get hurt.

Amazing how many of us didn't shoot and/or maim ourselves growing up, right? So, obviously, our parents knew a thing or two.

Michelle said...

On so many levels is that true. In fact, year after year, children will be exposed to things that they don't know or understand. It would be preferable to educate them on the most dangerous things before they get hurt by those things.

Knives, fire, guns, heck, even sex (and all of its associated danger) are examples of things that children should be taught the whole truth on before they start experimenting themselves.

There is an age to start, and an age where it becomes too late to inform them, because they've already learned it the hard way. I've known 3 year olds who knew gun and knife safety, and they have not turned into killers.