1. Parenting
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Susan Adcox

Do the Generations Really Disagree About Safety?

By April 26, 2012

Follow me on:

When the kids in my husband's family skin their knees or bang their elbows, a father or mother or aunt or grandparent is bound to say, "Rub it in the dirt." Adults who are not members of our family sometimes give us horrified looks, but the kids know what we mean: "Don't whine. Brush it off." The saying came from my husband's father, who was a talented athlete and one tough cookie. I'm sure he picked it up on a playing field somewhere.

I thought of our family saying  when I read a blog post titled "Score One for the Helicopter Parents." "Has a grandparent mocked your parenting today?" the author, KJ Dell'Antonia, asks. She goes on to say that those who accuse the current generation of parents of being overprotective--which grandparents sometimes do--have been proven wrong. The proof? The rate of accidental death for children has dropped 30% in the last ten years. Car seats, bike helmets and fences around pools are among the safety measures that Dell'Antonia targets as responsible for the improvement.

I was offended by Dell'Antonia's piece, and from the comments that have been made so far, many other grandparents were as well. I want my grandchildren to sleep in safe cribs and to ride in the very best car seats. I think an unfenced swimming pool is an invitation to tragedy. I understand that the parents of my grandchildren have the inalienable right to decide what degree of risk is acceptable for them. Many kids' activities involve some risks, and I'm happy to let the parents make the call. But when skinned knees happen--as they will--I subscribe to the family wisdom. Rub it in the dirt.

Follow me on Twitter | Visit me on Facebook


April 27, 2012 at 1:31 am
(1) Martin says:

My Grandfather passed on a saying that his father used. We all use it today, whenever one of the grandchildren takes a tumble. “Spit on it, and rub it in.” I agree that for some, beyond the family circle, this is not always well received, but the philosophy is ‘sound’. Of course we want to keep our grandchildren safe, but we also want them to grow with the ability to assess risk, and have fun.

April 27, 2012 at 7:10 am
(2) granny annie says:

It is always either “shake it off” or “let me kiss it and make it well”.

April 27, 2012 at 9:50 am
(3) grandparents says:

Martin and Grannie Annie, it’s good to know that other families have similar sayings. Martin, I’ve heard a slightly different version: “Spit on it and rub it in the dirt.” I’ve always thought it was a baseball thing, but I guess it’s unlikely that your grandfather was a baseball player. (Martin’s in the UK.)

April 27, 2012 at 6:54 pm
(4) Janey says:

I always licked my thumb and asked, “Want some MamaSpit on it?” Sometimes they did!

April 28, 2012 at 2:37 am
(5) Penny says:

Great piece. My dad always felt if we protected children from every risk that they would be more apt to experience life in vicarious ways — meaning the use of drugs. I don’t know that he was right, but I do know that we had great times with him — dune buggying, swimming in the ocean, etc., maybe even risking a broken bone here and there (but fortunately coming away unscathed). God protects fools, I guess. :-)

April 28, 2012 at 8:47 am
(6) kimberly says:

I’m in favor of the helmets and lead free living, but the endless hand washing, anti-bacterial gel and not touching, along with antibiotics for every sniffle, is I fear going to lead us to lots worse numbers in the infectious disease department.

May 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm
(7) Barbara says:

We say “Did you break the floor?” I don’t know why we care about the floor but it distracts the baby from the hurt and that is what matters.

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.