Safety first is a motto of most parents. It is a huge responsibility to keep our children safe without babying them. No parent wants their child to be a “wussie”! At some point, parents need to loosen the leash a little to allow their kids to flex and grow.
Taking kids into the outdoors is a time when children grow. Whether they are hiking, boating, fishing, camping, hunting, or shooting, kids learn life’s critical lessons. Survival means that they must learn to follow the rules, limits, regulations, and warnings to stay safe and legal.
Humans learn from mistakes. Nothing teaches us more than a Big Fat Mistake! As a Scoutmaster, I told parents that Scouting is a place where it is ok for kids to make a mistake. A support base of adults was always close to emphasize the mistake and how to avoid it next time. Making good decisions is what life is about.
“Road Rules” apply when a parent takes their child out for a real adventure. Soccer Mom’s mean well and engage their kids in activities that fit into their idea of comfortable and safe limits. Dads and a new generation of “Adventure Moms” don’t always see the same limits. This is when the real learning occurs.
“What your Mom/Dad doesn’t know won’t hurt them!” This is the foundation of “Road Rules.” We take our children on a grand adventure and let them try out their growing skills. Privileges are earned but must be tested. Mistakes are made, first aid is administered, and life goes on.
It starts with sitting your kid on your lap as you drive along an old dirt road. The adult supplies the safety net with the gas and brake pedals while the excited, but disciplined child steers. It is like the Alan Jackson country song “When Daddy let me Drive.” Eventually, the rookie driver gains experience and is allowed to drive a 4 wheeler, dirt bike, or riding lawn mower. At each step of this evolution, the parent is overseeing the new challenge.
This also means that the parents are now getting their trucks washed, lawn cut, gear maintained, and kids tested. Risk is always a danger in everything that we do. Training allows us to prepare for the risk and safely work within these limits. New adventures also serve as bribes that reward good behavior.
There is always a risk when allowing our children to grow. There is also a risk of “Babying” our children. Pet owners understand this when they train their dogs to the leash. At some point, the leash must be removed and the pup tested. Too many “Masters” retain the leash control and never allow their pup to explore. When the excited pup bolts out of the door without this training and runs into traffic, the lesson may be too late. The risk of not letting our pups and children grow are far more dangerous.
“Sure Son, take the helm!” That’s what I told my Son on a remote fly in lake in Canada. “Oh, and remember, Road Rules apply.” If he told his Mother, then the adventures and learning would slow down. This would surely lead to them becoming a “Wussie.” Instead, my Son took the helm and did just fine. A Father and Son bond was created forever as we celebrated the Road Rules together! I am sure that there are many “Mom Road Rules” stories that I have yet to hear. “Don’t tell your Dad!”
Live long and prosper! Oh, and be safe.
PS! I know that my son is not in a life jacket, which is now required. This photo was from a different time. We both survived the day! It is amazing how many things that past generations managed to survive before so much legislation. It is always better to be safe than sorry.