I have to laugh at some of the new proposed laws popping up around the country - in one state, lawmakers are trying to outlaw swings at playgrounds because they're dangerous. In another, children were nearly banned without an adult because they could fall down stairs. In yet another, a Mom was nearly arrested for letting her two children, 6 and 10, walk home from the park (even though, statistically, our children are safer from kidnappings today than when I was growing up).
Then, there's the emotional protection - the other day, my 8 year-old told me he didn't feel "intellectually safe" in that moment because I told him he had to go to bed.
Seems I can't even tell my kid it's bedtime without him feeling offended...
As a therapist in Honolulu, all this makes me wonder - are we and our children becoming too fragile for anything - including conflict?
As a nation of pendulum swingers (we often have trouble moderating our views, but instead go to the extremes), there may have been a time when we let bullies get away with too much and when offensive language really WAS offensive. But, is it possible we've swung the pendulum a little too far the other way?
It seems we may be teaching our children that anything that doesn't feel "good" is automatically offensive... and that concerns therapists like me for a number of reasons. When we can't tolerate other people's opinions, free speech, or views lest we crumble out of being offended, we often spend a lot of time wallowing in anxiety.
And then there's the fear of offending - when we over-edit our own speech because we don't want to be called out as offensive, that too can cause anxiety.
I don't condone name-calling, berating, or insulting others - but, can I please tell my 8 year old that "money doesn't grow on trees" without CPS being called?
Let's try to come to the middle and remember that we're trying to raise children who can be open to new ideas when they get to college. After all, isn't our job as parents to prepare our children for the path and not the path for our children?