Monday, January 31, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Ninja Dad

This picture is the closest we've come to raising a Tiger child to date.

Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate Amy Chua's message, I just don't appear to have it in me to lay down that level of discipline - at least not yet. Flash forward 5 years and you may find me screaming: "You call that movement on your fastball? That thing was so flat a Molina could hit it!"

In an effort to toughen myself up, I downloaded a book from the TED series the other day called "Beware Dangerism!" that ties the rise in the fear culture that surrounds child rearing these days to the (lack of) evidence of actual increased danger. The author quotes a survey done of parents, asking them to list their top 5 fears for their children, and then lines those up against the top 5 actual causes of harm:

Based on surveys Barnes collected, the top five worries of parents are, in order:

1. Kidnapping
2. School snipers
3. Terrorists
4. Dangerous strangers
5. Drugs

But how do children really get hurt or killed?
1. Car accidents
2. Homicide (usually committed by a person who knows the child, not a stranger)
3. Abuse
4. Suicide
5. Drowning

In other words, if we spent the time that we currently focus on "stranger danger" teaching our kids how to swim, we'd be in much better shape. Obviously, there's a lot more to it than that and the book covers it all in about 30 pages. An hour well-spent for any new parent.

But the best part I got out of it was learning what the author does in his spare time. In addition to writing another book, "Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do)", which reads like a transcript of my brother's first ten years, he also runs a summer camp called the Tinkering School.

If Finn is not dying to go to camp here the summer he turns eight, I'm going to enroll myself. I mean, they encourage you to play with fire!

In the meantime, I fully reject the "Tiger parent" idea that I should be depriving my child of the innocence of youth or the awesomeness of a sleepover party. And if my kid doesn't get invited to that big sleepover? I'll buy him a BB gun to make him feel better, just like my Dad did for me.

Best. Birthday snub. Ever. Thanks again, AJ Roberts!

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