Rant with Randi: Adversity
By Randi Crawford
Adversity – such an important word today, mainly because it’s something most children (at least in this area), don’t experience. When I saw the title of the Drew Brees book, Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity, it hit me. I don’t think my kids would know adversity if it smacked them in the face. And, sadly, I’m not blaming them for this situation. This is completely my doing. I’m trying to think of a good place to start. I grew up in a time when we left the house with a group of friends, and didn’t come home until dinner. Obviously there were no cell phones, so nobody was checking on us. Our parents weren’t glued to the television watching news all day, because it didn’t exist. The closest we came to “stranger danger” was when our parents told us not to hitchhike because it wasn’t safe (and I’m not even sure we listened to that). The environment was carefree to say the least.
My childhood memories are of riding bikes to the beach, eating frozen milkyways at the snack bar, getting a little crazy on “goosy night” (spraying dogs in the hood with shaving cream, just sayin’), riding my skateboard down hills without a helmet, and jumping on a trampoline without a net. Gasp! There’s no question that our parents knew a lot less and were lot less stressed. Ah, ignorance is bliss.
I’ve had the conversation with friends for years: “Is life really that much different than when we grew up, or is it just that we are exposed to the news 24/7?” I believe that life is that much different. Every time I turn on the news, I read something more insane than the previous day’s news. Today it was something about a girl on a pot farm being sexually abused and kept in a 4x2x2 box. I’m not sure how we’re supposed to “parent” without having this constant fear that something horrible is about to happen to our kids. But we have to find a way, because what we’re doing is failing our children, big time.
Adversity. How do we teach our kids that some things are going to be difficult, without the constant nagging fear that something awful could happen in the process? We are worried about events that haven’t even happened, and yet somehow we find a way to prevent whatever we think might happen, just in case it does happen. What are we doing? Who do we think we’re helping? Just take the camping trip and my kids starting a fire with no adult supervision. I would never let that happen at my house – why not? I wouldn’t want my kids to get burned, they’ve never started a fire before (plus I’ve heard that burn patients are the most painful in the entire hospital), and it’s fire. If I never let my child experience starting a fire on a camping trip, look at how much he/she is losing. It’s an experience my kids were able to have, because I wasn’t there to stop it. Amen.
Adversity comes in many shapes and forms. Let your kid lose and realize that it’s not the end of the world. Let them go boogie boarding and scrape their belly on the rocks (even though you knew that would happen if you didn’t warn them)…believe it or not, they aren’t going to get MRSA just because they have an open wound at the beach and sand might infect their cut. Let your child try their hand in the kitchen without worrying that they will cut off their finger. If this camping trip taught me one thing, it’s that our kids can do a lot more than we give them credit for. And they probably want to. We need to be instilling values right now that will help them to create the “want to” work for whatever it is they desire…not just get handed things and assume that it will always be that way. We need to instill coping skills and self- reliance so that rejection (friends, college, sports, jobs) doesn’t turn into depression, or even worse, thoughts of suicide.
Adversity. Let’s open the door for access – without excess.
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