Protection and provision are not enough.
“Here’s the paradox: If we protect our children too absolutely, we actually end up exposing them to other risks. And leave them without the skills, experiences, and minor life lessons that they’ll need to handle the big challenges as they grow up.” (Perri Klass, M.D.)
When children are very young, they must be protected and nurtured in absolutely every way. An infant is helpless and needy at all times. He must be fed, clothed, changed, transported, and even cajoled into sleep – or else he will get sick and die. Babies are totally unprepared for life. Now flash forward 18 years, and that same human, now full-grown, had better not be helpless or needy, or else something very wrong has taken place in the meantime. That 18 year old should be a strong, self-sufficient young man, able to learn on his own at school, have a variety of healthy relationships, and be able to do the jobs that other adults require of them, in order to have any success in his adult life. After all, he is a legal adult with all the rights and privileges that come with: working, paying taxes, continuing education, voting, getting married, having children, and even fighting in a war. He should be ready to fly on his own – maybe not soar yet, but fly enough to survive.
In a recent article about “helicopter parenting” we get a glimpse of the problem from the eyes of a college professor. “Kathleen Crowley, a professor of psychology says parents’ eagerness to overdirect their children’s lives has led to young adults who are less independent and creative than the generation before. Twenty years ago, Crowley announced an upcoming test in her college classes and that was the end of the discussion. Now, she says she’s expected to provide students with a study guide so they know exactly how to prepare, and she’s had these same young adults come to her in tears because they’d earned their first B and didn’t know how to cope. Because of this “extended adolescence,” when these students graduate and enter their careers, they’re now offered workplace mentoring and on-the-job training just to ensure their success.” (Jennifer Gish)
So why are so many 18-28 year old men and women still in adolescence? Why are so many having nervous breakdowns in the midst of their inability to deal with the trials of life? Why are so many young men and women crippled (socially and emotionally) in the adult world?
The answer may be simple, but the solution is complex. The young man’s parents, teachers, and coaches may have done a fine job of protecting and providing, but they did not prepare the child for adulthood. The solution is not so simple. HOW do you prepare a child to succeed on his or her own? (The following is not a comprehensive list)