Give him room to grow

By CHRIS GEORGE / Guest Columnist
One of my Nanny’s favorite quotes was, “Boy, I’m going to jerk a knot in your tail!”  This was due to many incidents of misbehavior, and rest assured she would follow through with her promise. Spare not the rod was her belief, and I’m thankful for it.
I have knocked neighbors’ windows out with rocks, fought on the playground after school, smoked cigarettes, ran away, cursed and jumped in a brawl, all before I was 12 years old. I’ve been held for after-school detention, paddled more times than I can count, suspended from school, and labeled “that kid.”
I tested the system, got dirty, and was allowed to fail and did it often. I was wild at heart and was given room to grow, but was quickly knocked down a notch when I got carried away. I only have my three boys to compare myself with, but so far, I have learned that they are different.
This commentary is completely biased based on my observations in my profession and as a father of boys. If you hold a boy back and refuse to allow him to fail now, he will not handle failure when it really counts.  Failure in high school means you don’t proceed to the next grade level. Failure in the workforce could mean termination. The first time a man experiences failure, defeat, and pain doesn’t need to be when he’s 22 years old. He will handle these differently than a man who has been knocked down before.  That trophy he just received with everyone else isn’t because he played good ball. It just means he showed up.
There is a difference in neglect and being a helicopter parent. Neglect is refusing to care for someone.  A helicopter parent won’t take the training wheels off because they’re afraid he’ll fall. He’s going to fall.  Build a solid foundation when he is young, train him in the ways of righteousness, and when he does fall as a man, he won’t have as far to get back up.
A common characteristic in some of the most heinous acts committed is that the person was a sheltered child who didn’t get out much. Get out of the way and let that boy be a boy. If he needs encouragement, give it to him. If he gets too big for his britches you’re going to have to jerk a knot in his tail.