WILTSE: Too much coddling of today's kids

Are we raising wimpy kids or what?
Oct 24, 2013


The school bus stops just outside our house at the same time every day. Every day, four or five SUVs appear with a kid in each. They live at most three blocks from the bus stop, but they can’t walk to wait for the bus.

In my day, I walked 10 miles every day through a blinding sleet storm, uphill both ways, and I made it every day.

Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration.

I do remember the first day of kindergarten. My mother drove me to school and dropped me off in a special location designated for kindergartners. From then on, my older brother walked me to school for a short time until I got to know other kids and walked with them.

It got to be fun, especially on the way home. There were games to play, trees to climb, etc. I think that first day was the only time I was driven to school.

School was about six blocks from my house. Intermediate school was different. It was located a little over two miles from my house and I rode my bike.

Saginaw was a little different than Grand Haven in that we didn’t have the heavy snows that we do here. I do remember my mother giving me bus money on the days we did get heavy snows or when it was bitterly cold so that I could take the city buses.

High school was easy, for it was only about five blocks.

The kids in my current neighborhood don’t walk a couple of blocks to wait for the school bus, which comes every day at the same time, plus or minus five minutes. They are driven to the bus stop even in the nice weather that we have experienced lately. I think that constitutes coddling.

I also think it is not particular to my neighborhood. I think today’s kids are coddled and undisciplined; it’s the main reason they don’t succeed as well as European and Asian students in the sciences and mathematics.

It’s not their fault; it’s the fault of their parents. We indulge in their wants and desires too readily. It’s going to backfire in a generation or two when it becomes too expensive to drive kids to the bus stop and sit there idling the car until the bus comes.

Maybe if they walk to school or the bus stop, it will reduce the obesity problem.

I also think that it is the reason that kids develop so many allergies and illnesses. It’s because we keep them so antiseptically clean. I’m told that farm kids develop fewer allergies than city kids. There is something to be said about shoveling manure.

I don’t mean that they should be kept filthy or encouraged to eat dirt, but rushing to use antibiotics isn’t necessary, except in extreme cases. A little common sense is to be used in the little accidents that occur every day.

When I developed a sore that took a long time to heal, my wife asked the doctor if I should take antibiotics. He said he didn’t think it was necessary, but the best thing to do was to keep the wound clean at all times. He didn’t place much store in antibiotics.

I’ve read that we are using too much antibiotics, and they are getting into our water supply and the bugs are mutating to the point that antibiotics are becoming useless.

So kids, get out there and find your own way to school, and get dirty doing it. Also, climb a few trees on the way home and skin your knees a few times — and don’t tell your parents.

— By Ralph Wiltse, Tribune community columnist



I so agree with you, the PC generation will soon pass . . .


That's right kids, don't tell your parents, so when you are abducted by a sex offender it will be that much harder to find you. Great advice, Grandpa.


I agree with Ralph's article, but disagree with Boater. As the gubmint treats us increasingly as hapless chilluns, indoctrinating the kids through the Department of Education and government schools, and increasing dependency on the government through welfare and entitlement programs, the wimp phenomenon will grow.

When the federal government has the power to descend on our small community (safest in the nation according to a recent survey) at the request of one parent to force our schools to sign an agreement to "push diversity" per a recent headline, and stop "bullying" the federal government is too big and too intrusive. The community can deal with these issues on its own.

I suspect Ralph will disagree with my interpretation of his comment, but who can deny that gubmint has played a more intrusive role in all of our lives since the halcyon days when kids played games on the way to school, skinned their knees while engaging in "dangerous" activities, ate school lunches they liked more than Michelle's (which says volumes), and got dirty, rode bikes without helmets, and, the horrors, drank water from garden hoses - how did so many of us survive without the mandates of the gubmint, without Obamacare?

Good job Ralph!


I didn't even see a comment by Boater; I'm losing something in the translation. Much of what you say Prince is true, and I doubt few people, intelligent people that is, will disagree that our government is way too involved in almost everything anymore. Our entire political system could certainly use a tune up, if not a major overhaul, but it is what it is. The incident with the bullying is our local embarrassment, blown way out of proportion by a mentally challenged woman, her children, and a few misguided friends.

As to raising our children, I think the majority will agree, that we will always agree to disagree. I was happy for advice when my children were young, took very little of it to heart, and implemented even less of the ideas that I heard. My wife and I always did what "we" felt was right, even relocated a couple of times through the years to insure our children's safety and quality of life.

Damn, having gone on too long about nothing; I agree that the children of today need a thicker skin, more physical activity, less electronic stimulation, and parents that aren't so over protective.


This crap gets overblown. Do you really think kids don't eat dirt, scrape up their legs and climb trees any more?

I would suggest that people worry more about themselves and their kids instead of how other parents get their kids to school. I would rather my kid be around self-confident 'wimps' than bullies.

The idea that parents of Asian and European children 'coddle' less is an interesting one. Is this based on any sort of fact?

As with every issue, it's not so black and white. I do agree with the fear of antibiotic resistant microbes, though.


Kids all over the U.S. get kidnapped walking to school, maybe that is why parents choose to drive there kids to school, or the fact that more than 1/2 the drivers don't stop in the designated cross walks for school age children. I have seen so many cars drive right through, and these poor kids think they car is going to stop for them. I think it is a parent choosing safety for their children....


Maybe, and this is just a thought, parents should teach there kids to watch out for cars.


We live in time different than any time in human recorded history. Our kids when they grow are going to face issues. Huge ones. Computers and robotic automation have replaced almost all good paying jobs. So what are 50 million people who are unemployable going to do at 18 when the graduate? This problem is a conundrum. Our technology is actually destroying and eroding they way the majority can make money. Millions will not be able to pay that property tax bill that comes in twice a year. So then what? Will they vote to abolish it? We are growing millions and millions of people who through no fault of their own cannot get a job. A schism is growing. Our prisons are growing. How about the articles "from graduation to prisons" Down the road we go.

deuce liti

Well, I would never allow my child to walk alone to the bus stop (though he's too young to go to school). That's not coddling him, that's just being aware of reality.

Little of you may know, but there are some apartment complexes in Grand Haven here that allow registered sex offenders. Call me paranoid, but I won't take the chance.

What I really hate is that parents give their toddlers mohawks and frohawks. That haircut has always been a rebellious style. It's one thing when they're 18, but 3 and up? You're teaching them to rebel and YOU are the first one they'll rebel against. Troglodytes.

Not only are parents coddling their every need, but what WILTSE should have addressed is that parents are teaching their kids that money and success is the ONLY thing that matters in life:

1) Abandon them early on in Pre-school so they get a head start on their education.
2) Enroll them in as many extra curricular activities as humanly possible so that they have an arsenal for their college application.
3) There are no losers, only last winners. Except you should try to win and step on anyone who gets in your way.
4) Teach your child by example that money is the ultimate goal and reward in our product-accumulating world by always being at work to "provide" (read: get more stuff) materially and rarely being there emotionally.
5) Modern man has become a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct.
6) Christmas instils the value of reward through lying though initially it will be subconscience.
7) When the parents' materialism value system has been firmly placed you will have produced:
A) corporate leaders that produce vast gains by immoral means (see financial crisis of 2008)
B) Doctors that become slaves to the health insurance and drug companies for kick backs and quarterly bonuses at the expense of even decent patient care.
C) lobbyists.
And so on. The point is parents instill this greed in their children and they become the monsters we deal with today.

And all you can spend most of your article on is the inability to walk 3 blocks and what they are missing out on because of it?


Wow, I want your autograph! After hearing from all the self-proclaimed right winger haters in our community, it's nice to read something like your post above and know it's not necessary to feel all alone. I believe you nailed a number of issues and I give you a virtual thumbs up for tossing it out there.

deuce liti

It's nice to know there are others out there! Thanks a ton!


so if education and success are not the ultimate goal, do you teach your kids how to hunt & fish or leech off the handouts and do as little work in life as possible while benefiting from the hard workers that are forced to pay for others lack of drive for success and wait for something to fall in their lap? I think we already know your solution


Oh for the love of all that is good....shut the #%#@! up. If living a full and satisfying life was as simple as you simple-minded buffoons seem to think it is the world wouldn't have a tenth of the problems it does.

I just realized what your handle really means....you live to generate lies, half-truths and promote obfuscation and truth does indeed hurt your pitiful little underdeveloped brain.

If it's safe to assume that you've attained the age of what's usually labeled as adulthood then my only questions to you would be how do you possibly function in the outside world on a daily basis and how do you find your way back home every night? Breadcrumbs? pennies? Spray paint on the roadway at intersections?

Truthhurts indeed. You must be in constant pain.


just calling the shots how I see them in your delusional world of handouts and obamacare. Yes, it sucks earning everything that I have, eat, and do but that is being a functional part of society which you would prefer to abolish with laziness and stuffed teddy bears.


truthhurts - Did you vote for Nixon? (provided you were of age then).

deuce liti

Like a well trained dog that snaps and snarls at the poor and what meagre amount they may take from us who work; never looking up at the wealthy and what they did to get there. The banks have 5 Lobbyists per congress person. Your reps claim millions on their taxes even though the job pays significantly less.

You applaud your former president George W. Bush when he invades Iraq and kills 100s of 1000s of men, women, and children (much of your own countrymen) and don't bat an eye when he twice vetoed stem cell research because it "violated his morals." Moreover, gives huge tax breaks to the 1% and then bails them out with $700 billion.

But you're worried my son will grow up without a sense of American greed while living in this Hanoi pit of yuppie scum called Grand Haven, ever slipping through the cracks of a failed wealthy-biased public school system that would have only taught him his place in the Grand (Haven) scheme of things?

They have you so well trained you can't see past your own hand.


Now THAT is truth that hurts.

deuce liti

I should keep in mind this is the same forum that spit in the face of a billion starving people globally to argue the pros and cons of bringing their dog out to dinner with them.

Let's not even get into the fact that there are more animal shelters than women's shelters.

A total disconnect from reality.

Ah yes, The Opulent Offender strikes again! Ha!


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