Updated: May 26, 2021
I am a child of the 60s--1960 to be exact. I was three years old when President Kennedy was assassinated, but I still remember my mom sitting in her rocking chair watching Walter interrupt "As the World Turns"; crying. My best friend, Kim, and I were turning cartwheels and somersaults in the grass when one of her older sisters rushed outside to tell their mom that Bobby Kennedy had been shot. I was thirteen when President Nixon resigned from office because of Watergate. I saw saw the nightly newscasts of the Vietnam War. I knew LSD, Charles Manson, and the Kent State riots and killings were blights on our society.
But I turned out just fine DESPITE all of these things (and more).
I turned out just fine because despite all of those things my childhood of the sixties and seventies allowed me to be there when "Mary Poppins" was released on the big screen. I was four at the time and my memories of going to see it at the Capitol Theater are as vivid as ever. I was eight when Neil Armstrong took those infamous steps onto the moon. I remember watching it on our black and white TV and hearing my great grandpa insist it was not real. I was one of those kids who walked to and from school without fear, and I walked to the swimming pool, spent the entire day swimming and playing with my bff, and got out only in enough time to drip-dry so we wouldn't get Dad's car seats too wet when he picked us up on his way home from the office. I caught lightening bugs. I threw newspapers. I ate peanut butter and chocolate syrup sandwiches (don't judge). I didn't drink milk. I used the pig's loading chute for a stage; singing my heart out for all the animals to hear. I watched Bob Hope lift the morale of our military overseas, I watched "Hee Haw", "Carol Burnett", and "All in the Family" without my mind becoming warped. I also had chores to do and was expected to do them. And, are you ready for this...I ran, jumped, and frolicked in the fog the mosquito fogger trucks released.
Yet I turned out just fine BECAUSE of all these things (and more).
Now I'm going to tell you why I turned out just fine despite and because of those things. It's really quite simple. It was a matter of balance. My parents and grandparents knew where the balance between supervision and freedom should lie. They knew how to balance telling the truth and letting me see the truth with preserving my innocence in an age-appropriate manner. They knew how to balance their expectations by challenging me to do better, but not setting me up for failure by expecting more than I was capable of. And last but not least, they knew the proper balance between discipline and grace, aka 'not majoring in the minors'.
Okay, so maybe the fogger truck thing was a bit risky, but hey, I really did turn out just fine, so it's all good and my advice to you is this: your children will be well-balanced adults if you raise them in a balanced environment. So don't be over-protective or over-lax in what they are exposed to. Don't hover. Instead, teach and release a little at a time; giving them the chance to experience life on their own while they still have you to fall back on if and when they need to. Set boundaries and limits and don't be afraid or too lazy when it comes to enforcing them; making sure the 'discipline matches the crime'. And finally, always make sure there's a balance between the times you say, "Don't make me stop this car" and "I love you".
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