Yes, you are seeing the picture right. There are training wheels on the tricycle above. Never mind the fact that it is almost virtually impossible for a kid on a tricycle to flip over. Parents can just never be too careful these days....or can they ? Folks, I realize that I am a senior citizen now and therefore am past the child bearing and child rearing years - Praise God :) I am not too old however to remember those days when our home was full of kiddos and I have noticed one HUGE crucial difference between when my husband and I raised children and today's era of parenting. It is the fact that we live in the age of the helicopter parent. Too bad.

Look, I am a grandparent and you won't find a more careful, cautious person than me when my grand babies are with me. I am forever watching over them, anticipating possible accidents or safety problems. I get all that. What I am witnessing today though are parents who are such helicopters that the noise of them hovering is deafening. I am also not talking about kids wearing helmets when they ride bikes. That sort of precautionary measure simply saves lives. Talk to any emergency room doctor or nurse about some of the mashed heads of youngsters that they have had to treat and you will understand very clearly the necessity of the law that kids wear helmets while riding their bikes.

No, I am talking about just incredibly extreme attitudes of parents these days that cause them to shield their kids from absolutely any physical harm at all. Little kids wearing elbow and knee pad protection just to go out to play, kids who refuse to jump into a pool unless they have goggles on and ear plugs are just a couple examples. Today's little boys aren't climbing trees, building forts, jumping off bike ramps, or getting an occasional case of poison ivy in the summer time. There just aren't as many scraped knees, or black eyes on kids. Many folks just read that last sentence and thought to themselves " Isn't that a good thing?"  No, not really. It surely isn't.

Part of growing up is suffering injury. Hopefully, it is not serious injury but routine scrapes, cuts and bruises are just a part of childhood. Our boys had a total of ninety-one stitches between the three of them by the time they reached eighteen. I am not saying that it was our goal for them to need as many stitches as possible, of course not. However, we wanted them to be boys. We wanted them to play rough, to challenge themselves physically, to run, jump, dive, climb, and scuffle their way along the path to adulthood. Yes, I said the word " scuffle." When boys are outside playing manhunt, soccer, roller hockey, football, basketball, and any number of other games, there are going to be disagreements with other kids. A dispute over a score, a foul, who pushed who, who is going to be quarterback can sometimes lead to a scuffle...yes, a fight. Young boys have had fist fights for years and while I do not encourage it or condone it, it certainly is not the worst thing in the world to happen to your young son. It actually might teach him a valuable lesson or two in terms of when and how to stand up for himself, when to walk away, and how to face inner fear. Many moms are appalled and gasping right now. That's okay, I don't care. I would rather raise a son with some mettle and confidence in himself that will help him to some day be a leader rather than a nervous boy who is easily intimidated by any sort of unpleasant confrontation or someone who is aggressive towards him. Again..let me emphasize, a physical fight for our boys should not be a goal at any times for parents, but if you turn the corner on your street and you see your son and another boy trading blows, don't have a heart attack. It isn't the end of the world or the end of his life. It is just something to work through and use as a teaching experience and he will actually be better off for it when it is all over. I know that many disagree with my view on this but that is okay. Nowhere is there a rule that everyone needs to agree with each other all the time.

I also am not suggesting that we go back to the wreckless days of the fifties in which I grew up. I never wore a seat belt as a child....never. Why is that? Because our car didn't have seatbelts, pure and simple. My five brothers and I slid across the seat and flew through the air inside that car when my dad took the turns as only he could take them ! I swung very high on swings whose chains were about twenty feet long - over asphalt. I remember sitting on the shoulders of my older brothers as they jumped off the high dive at the pool in which he worked...as the head lifeguard. There just weren't many , if any safety rules in those days. Was this best ? Probably not, but it certainly developed a toughness, a " can do " spirit in us as kids. It is an inner strength that I sometimes miss seeing in youngsters today.

The truth is , none of my brothers or I ever had training wheels on our bikes. We basically went from walking everywhere to my dad plopping us on a bike not much past toddler hood and we then spent an entire afternoon falling until we got the hang of riding a bike. Sounds like a harsh and unconventional approach to mastering the art of bike riding , but that is seriously how we all did it , and now that I think about it, so did all the other kids in the neighborhood. Again, I am not touting this method as the most excellent way however it did make for tougher kids who knew how to take a spill now and then. It also made us more willing to try the next physical challenge whatever it may be.

Just like anything else in life, the trick is striking a balance. I am not suggesting we go back to the days of no seatbelts and no helmets but can we still allow our kids to suffer a few scrapes and bruises now and then ? I would hope so.

What is one of the worst things you can do to your children ?  HOVER !

Hovering can stifle your child's confidence, his growth, and even his fun while growing up. Young parents, if you give this topic some careful consideration, and endeavor to strive to not over protect, you may have a child with a few more black and blue marks, but also with a bit of spunk and a can do spirit.

That's a worthy trade off and a good deal in my book....any day of the week.