Let me explain.
If you haven’t seen the movie, “The Croods,” this is the gist of it…
The Croods is a Dreamworks Animation film about a family of cavemen---The Croods. Mr. Grug Crood, (the father) is very overprotective of his cavemen family…especially his adventure-seeking, rebellious teenage daughter, named Eep. Grug does not allow his family to venture too far from the confines of their safe cave walls for fear of someone getting hurt or killed. He continually preaches to his family that “new is always bad” and you should “never NOT be afraid.” So basically, he tells them to always be careful and never do anything new or different because the outcome could be potentially disastrous or life-ending. But towards the beginning of the movie, The Crood Family’s cave is destroyed, and they have no other choice but to leave the safety net of their now-demolished cave home and find a new one, which takes them on an incredible journey into unfamiliar territory.
So, like I said…I am Mr. Crood. (Ok, maybe not to the extreme where I won’t let my kids leave the house, but still--- I am overprotective of my children).
Maybe it’s just my generation of mothers, but I have seen too many outrageous, unimaginable things in my short 36-year lifetime that it scares me half to death to think of my children growing up in such a messed up society. The horrors of September 11th, the deadly school shootings at Columbine High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School…the list goes on and on. And all I want to do is turn off the TV, hug my kids, keep them safe at home, and protect them from it all.
But as I was watching The Croods that day, the adventure-seeking, rebellious teenage daughter Eep, whom I told you about earlier, said something that struck a chord. This is how the conversation with her father went:
Eep: Dad, you have to stop worrying about us.
Grug: But it's my job to worry! It's my job to follow our traditions.
Eep: Those traditions don't work out here.
Grug: They've been keeping us alive.
Eep: That was not LIVING! It was "Not Dying"! There's a difference.
Whoa. That was not LIVING—it was ‘Not Dying.’ Is that what I’m doing to my kids?! Keeping their heart pumping and blood flowing, but not letting them truly experience all the wonderful things that life has to offer because I’m so gosh-darn overprotective?! I found myself sitting in the theater that July afternoon replaying that sentence over and over in my head….”That was not Living. It was Not Dying.”
Like Grug Crood, I think it’s natural for all parents to worry about their kids and try to protect them at all costs. And we do this in the best way we know how. We don’t want our kids to get hurt—physically OR emotionally. But, alas, I think at some point, we need to let them figure things out on their own. We can’t always fight their battles for them. We need to give them wings so they can FLY. We can’t give them wings and then keep them locked up in a bird cage.
Parents can still keep their kids safe by being good teachers and, more importantly, to be even better role models. We need to provide our kids with the knowledge and the tools they will need to make good decisions for themselves. And we also need to let them make mistakes…and suffer the consequences. They need to learn that the world isn’t always fair. It isn’t always a very nice place. And it’s incredibly scary at times. But it doesn’t do them (or us) any good to pull the covers up over their heads and hide. You only live once. Get out there, explore the world, and learn how to make it better. Even Mr. Crood came to realize that LIFE, no matter how scary, is worth LIVING.