Back in the summer of 2001, renowned clinical psychologist Wendy Mogel published a marvelous little book entitled The Blessing of a Skinned Knee. In it, Dr. Mogel reflected on two decades of her work with children and families and made several interesting observations on the ways in which childhood had evolved between the late 1970s and 2000. Most notably, she observed that the modern parent was becoming more and more protective, to the detriment of their children.
Today, 14 years after the initial publication of The Blessing of the Skinned Knee, Mogel asserts that the problems of over-parenting have only become worse and the consequences have become potentially disastrous. Not surprisingly, re-reading the book last week got me thinking about my own parenting and the way in which outdoor adventure in general and running in particular has informed my role as a father.
Certainly, like most, I am not immune to over-protection. I love my three sons and would pretty much do anything to keep them safe and secure. That said, I am rather proud of the way in which they have been brought up as I like to think it has made them more resilient, constructive, and thoughtful. While they are three profoundly different personalities, they are all runners. That common bond, I believe, has helped them evolve into more self-reliant, empathetic young men.
Why would this be?
What is it about running that has allowed my kids to become who they are?
Of course, as a life-long runner, I am significantly biased toward the benefits of an active running life. Physical, emotional, and psychological gains are an essential result of simply being a runner. However, when I look at the experiences of my own kids, I see the results clearly. They are better people because they run, regardless of how fast or slow. They are persistent, resilient, patient. And that is where Mogel’s research quickly gains traction. She asserts, perhaps more than many others, that these skills are made not born.
What I see in my work, in my life, and in my running is the direct benefit of a life lived hard. A life protected but not sheltered in an environment that encourages risk, innovation, and failure. In short, a life worth living. Running gives us that, always has, always will; not only in spite of skinned knees but because of them.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week comes from the Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro, Vermont. I reviewed the Arthur back in the summer and this week’s beer, the Susan, is the next in line of their ancestral beers.
To be honest, these guys make some of the best beers I have ever had and should not be missed if you are a beer person ever within 100-mile radius of their brewery. The Susan is a lighthearted IPA that blends three kinds of hops in a sessionable, flowery sensation.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- If you are a parent, in what kinds of situations do you find yourself instinctively drawn to over-parenting? In those moments, how do you find the balance of just the right amount of guidance?
- Have your children learned lessons from their participation in or observation of your running or your other sports hobbies? What are they?