Susan Straight got it right about the unscathed generation and was honest enough to include herself as part of the problem ("A Generation Unscathed," Aug. 12). Today's children run to their parents to report taunts, slights and hurt feelings that we would have been embarrassed to admit to ours. Serious bullying is one thing, but how will children learn to handle adult problems if parents don't occasionally let them fight their own battles?
Rancho Palos Verdes
Bubble-wrapped kids didn't come about by chance. Thousands of brain-damaged, paralyzed or dead kids have led to laws for helmets, seat belts and other safety measures. Still, today's parents, like those of 50 and 100 years ago, are divided into two camps: those who believe that scars, both physical and emotional, are part of a "healthy" childhood, and those who believe that constructive guidance is the best way to raise a child. If I had 67 scars on my body, I'd have to seriously question my mom about why she couldn't have spared at least a little bit of bubble wrap for me.
During my childhood in Georgia, I rode my bike freely, played on the edge of a mountain bluff and gave names to the eagles that flew overhead. I got scrapes on my knees from turning into our gravel driveway after flying down our steep hill on my bike. Now, I wonder, would I let my children do that? My second-grader is excited when he rides his bike on the cul-de-sac in his helmet, kneepads and elbow pads--but not out of view. Although our society has changed, Straight's article is a good reminder that it is OK for children to fall. It is OK for children to face consequences.
As someone who grew up in a more innocent time in rural Kansas, Straight's comments about overprotective, paranoid parents resonated with me. As a hospital chaplain, however, I have a different set of eyes. This week in our hospital, two children died from potentially preventable accidents. Given the large number of children who were tucked safely in their beds, I suppose one could say that these two deaths were the exception to the rule. But when watching children die, it doesn't feel like an exception. It feels like the whole world should stop and weep. I have stood with parents who are inconsolable. In their grief, they say many poignant things that I am privileged to hear. One of the most heartbreaking is the sentence that begins, "If only I had . . . ."
Beverly K. Hartz
Via the Internet
The true irony is that bubble wrap now comes covered with warnings to keep it away from infants.