Shelter is not protection

As my wife and I walked the Ocean City boardwalk this morning, we were discussing our visit to the Pratt Institute yesterday. Our son has been accepted to the pre-college summer program.


We are excited for this opportunity along his education journey. Prior to our day trip, however, we were both a bit nervous about our boy spending a month in Brooklyn. Our concerns were assuaged by the visit – great faculty, beautiful campus, amazing facilities.

Our discussion drifted to the general idea of raising children. It’s scary, messy, relentless, invigorating, exciting, and… that’s just the first day! Since we’ve managed to get our children to their teen years without major tragedy (or perhaps despite our best efforts), I was reminiscing about our choices as we’ve raised them. This thought occurred to me:

“Shelter is not protection.”

I’m not the dad to take my son to the bar for his first beer, but I do believe that it is necessary to give my children the opportunity to fail. I refuse to organize their lives in a way that shields them from making decisions, even wrong ones, and learning from their mistakes. As it turns out, they are going to end up making their own decisions anyway, so I’d rather have them practice with me than without me.

We’ll see how July in New York goes!


About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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