I decided not to reply to an email I received recently. I really, REALLY wanted to… but I thought better of it. However, for the sake of catharsis, I’ve decided to post it here (not to mention I didn’t want to waste all of this research and typing):
First, the email I received:
This makes me kinda sad for todays generation!
Those Born 1930-1979!
TO ALL THE KIDSWHO SURVIVED the 1930’s 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s !!
First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.
Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking. As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags.
Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and
NO ONE actually died from this.
We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank koolade made with sugar, but we weren’t overweight because .
WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING !
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day.
And we were O.K.
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD’s, no surround-sound or CD’s, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or chat rooms…….
WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.
We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.
We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!
Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!
These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!
The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!
If YOU are one of them . . . CONGRATULATIONS!
You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives
… for our own good.
And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave (and lucky) their parents were.
Here’s what I almost sent as a reply:
I’m not usually driven to unsolicited distribution of email, or replying to them… I know no offense was intended, but I take exception to some of the rather cavalier statements made in this message. Therefore, I feel compelled to offer my rebuttal (which you may do with as you will):
Infant mortality rates (source: Centers for Disease Control):
1900: 162.4 per 1000 live births
1960: 26.0 per 1000 live births
2000: 6.9 per 1000 live births
Leading causes of infant mortality (source: Centers for Disease Control):
congenital defects (which can be caused by mothers who smoke or drink)
complications at child birth (which can be caused by gestational diabetes)
SIDS (which some studies have suggested can be caused by sleeping on your tummy)
In 1978, 3.5 million children had elevated levels of lead in their system, causing symptoms as trivial as behavioral problems and learning disabilities… on up to seizure disorders and death. In 2002, after years of government regulation restricted the sale and disposal of lead paint, that number dropped to 310,000.
(Source: U.S. EPA)
A recent study by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (June 2003) found that the use of belt-positioning booster seats lowers the risk of injury to children in crashes by 59 percent, compared with the use of vehicle safety belts.
The survival rate for children under five in automobile accidents drops 25% when a proper restraint device is not used. (Source: National Highway Traffic safety Administration)
That’s all I had time to find during my lunch break. You can certainly make a case against over-protecting yourself and your kids… but don’t blame your government for your fears… blame your own sensibilities. Of course physical activity is better than video games and TV watching. Socialization is a disappearing practice. However, you can make these points without wholely ignorant mischaracterizations of very real threats. You may think child proof caps, seat belts, helmets, and airbags are inconvenient – but I think you’re a lazy fool if you think such minor inconveniences trump science, research, and your child’s safety.
Oh, and by the way… my evidence by anecdote is just as good as your’s, and… my daughter was born after 1979, and if you’ve met her you know that she won’t have an aversion to risks or taking chances when she grows up.
As for me, I’m rather glad my children are growing up today. Call me crazy, but it’s hard to embrace life if you don’t have one.