That They Used To Be Oblivious Is Not an Excuse

Things are different now. One cannot think back to their own childhood and not be struck by the precautions and the protections in place now that did not exist before.

As Stanley McCrystal reflects in his book, Risk, “I rode countless miles on my bicycle but never owned a helmet. I was crammed uncomfortably for hours in the family station wagon but never wore a seatbelt. I don’t think my two little brothers ever sat in a car seat and like other kids in the neighborhood, we were free rangers who disappeared in the morning and reappeared dirty and hungry in that evening.”

But before you think this is another one of those “Back in the Good Ol’ Days…” lectures, check the very next sentence. “We wouldn’t have considered ourselves risk takers or our parents irresponsible—I suspect we were just largely oblivious.”

Just because they were OK with risks in the past, doesn’t mean it was a good idea.

While it’s certainly possible to overprotect and to overreact to the dangers of the present world, it’s objectively a fact that parents in the past *under-*protected and under-reacted. The data is clear. Kids died. Kids were cruel. Things went unaddressed and untreated. The fact that plenty of kids did survive is hardly an argument for your grandparents letting your parents play with a rifle in the backyard after school.

We have to look at the situations in front of us today with fresh eyes. We have to look at the data and the risk and make informed decisions. That this might perplex older people or mean you have to do stuff that your parents didn’t have to do? So what. You know more than they do. You have the benefit of generations of mistakes from back in the good ol’ days to learn from.

Sign Up to get our FREE email.
One piece of timeless parenting advice, delivered daily.

Sign Up to get our eBook

“20 Things Great Dads Do Everyday”



Recent Posts



We’re going to tackle all the big themes of our time and of all time: Grit. Resilience. Curiosity. Compassion. Character. Unconditional love. Finding purpose. Dealing with stress. Masculinity. Female empowerment. Loss. Stillness. Truthfulness. Initiative. Creativity. Passion. Family. Fun.

Join Daily Dad now and tap into a community of dads all over the world dedicated to becoming the very best dad they can be. you’ll get a daily meditation on the above themes and more.