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How to prevent your kids from becoming 'soft'

Millennial Jeff in Anoka, MN challenged the community and the readers stepped right up with a wide variety of thoughts because that's what the best community of readers on the Internet does when members need advice.

• Nate S. has thoughts on this subject:

Love what you've been doing with Screencaps and bring together a community that loves everything that is true to being American, in the traditional sense. 

I just saw Jeff's comments about what to do about kids being soft and it reminded me of how I raise(d) my 3 (22 - boy,18 - boy, 14 - girl) kids. In our house, there was one overriding rule. If you're hurt...walk it off / shake it off / collect yourself and move on; if you're injured....we'll go to the hospital. There was no in-between. It quickly instilled in all three that if you get knocked down (and you will in many facets of your life) you need to get back up and keep going. There are very few times that you need to take your ball and go home (i.e. head to the hospital). 

My oldest, when he was 5, was riding his bike in the culdesac and crashed pretty hard. He comes to me, blood streaming down his leg from the road rash on his knee, and says "Dad, just wanted you to know I'm ok but my sock is going to be red." Needless to say we cleaned him up and put a band-aide on it, but there was no way that he was heading inside to feel bad for himself. It made me proud that at 5 years old he was ready to take his lick and keep moving forward. For the past couple of years, my youngest has played competitive volleyball and has been one of the more mentally tough girls each year. Getting all of those female hormones together and some crack quickly. Life isn't always sunshine and roses, there will be bumps in the road, and the faster you realize that you experience the adversity, collect yourself, and move forward the more resilient you become. It has definitely seemed to work, so far, for my 3 kids.

• Josh Q. says he thinks about this topic quite often:

Long time first time. Happy to contribute. This topic hit home. My wife and I have talked about this a lot and continue to. We haven't laid out a plan but we have definitely takens steps. We have four kids, three girls (8, 10, 12), and a son (5). Both of my parents grew up on a ranch, and my wife's own/operate a tree service. We are both familiar and comfortable with doing hard things. My kids are not. We bought some property two years ago, and run a very small ranch. We have horses, cows, cats, dogs, ducks, and chickens. Everyone has chores, and are learning responsibility caring for the animals. The oldest learned to run the zero turn last summer, and of course I have her cut on Thursdays.  They have all learned to swim, fish, and shoot. They can unhook, and cook their fish. Still working on getting over the cleaning barrier. They can all ice skate, and the older ones are learning to snowboard. I point this out because learning new things is hard, requires determination, and mental toughness. 

The oldest received a phone on her 12th birthday, and I was reluctant even then. But she runs cross country and is active with her Church group so it was more out of convenience than anything else. She was sure to let us know she was the very last person at school to have one, and I took that as a compliment. We have not allowed any social media apps, and restrict just about everything outside of calls and text messages. The answer to boredom here is, GO OUTSIDE!

Recently the 10 yr old lost an earring down the sink drain. I made her sit with me as we took apart the drain and p-trap. She helped me find the earring, clean up the pipes. Then I had her put it back together. She was a bit grossed out but she did it!

I have strongly encouraged team sports, but I am happy to keep them involved in dance, rock climbing, archery, and rodeo. The youngest didn't get a choice, and is currently learning to play hockey. He loves it, and I am excited to see him dive in. 

We are still learning to let them fail, and getting better at making them responsible for themselves. I remember having to get myself ready and to school every morning without my parents around because they both worked. I have the ability to walk my kids to the bus stop everyday, but part of me feels like this is hurting them. We have been finding ways to teach them how to build/repair/maintenance things around the property. I have been trying to include them on more things like this so dad isn't always having to save the day. They can do it for themselves. That is the best way we have figured out how to keep them from getting soft. The kids aren't the only ones learning along the way, we are too as parents.  

Thanks for all you do, and sending out my appreciation to the whole SC community. Look forward to seeing how other parents are handling this for some ideas.

• Mike in Cedar Park, TX has a great line in his message:

1. Sports, as you mentioned, can teach kids valuable lessons on hard work, teamwork, leadership, and not giving up.  Try to keep them in as many different sports for as long as possible.  Specializing in one sport in grade school and middle school greatly increases burnout and dropping out of sports before high school.  The pressure to do this becomes more intense the better they are early.

2.  Coach your kids if you can.  Most rewarding thing I did as a parent.  I wish I would have learned earlier the most important thing to say to your kids:  I love watching you play.  

3.  Don't let them quit anything mid-season.  Learn the hard lessons and regroup/ reevaluate at the end.

Enjoy the time.  It moves faster the older they get,

• Pete in Columbia, MD writes:

Longtime reader... Raising kids "soft"? Not sure what that means but that's another discussion.

I approach my 2: 16yo girl, 12yo boy, with the fundamentals. Be polite, be respectful, have chores, encourage them to offer to help without being asked. As for life skills I have taught them both a proper handshake, using tools, setting a table, mowing the lawn, filling up the car, and so on. My wife is teaching them both how to cook and bake. We teach them Critical Thinking and to try and understand all sides of a debate. And empathy. Getting them both into good scout troops have been a godsend.

I also have a rule. My kids live close to their schools and are walkers. Rule is: If the Crossing Guard is out (and the Guard is an old fella) you can walk to school. Rain, sleet, snow, heat... The Guard's out and we walk.

• Daniel in Wilmington, OH where MY Bengals used to hold training camp and where, as a kid, I met my heroes Boomer Esiason and Ickey Woods walking back to their door room on the Wilmington College campus, writes:

I grew up in the suburbs, the first house I bought was in the suburbs, but some of my finest memories as a child was horsing around outside on my cousin's 200 acre farm.  I knew I wanted this life for my kids.  When my oldest turned 5 we bought a house on 10 acres and immediately got the kids some outside rabbits. 

It was their job to go outside twice a day, year-round, no matter the weather, and care for those rabbits.  They did this for years without complaining until a predator got in and killed them.  Now the kids were older and we got them 17 chickens, two goats, a dog, and more rabbits.  These kids wake up while it's still dark outside to go out and take care of their animals. 

Earlier this winter when it was -50 with the windchill in southwestern Ohio, these kids bundled up and spent 45 minutes feeding and defrosting heated water bottles that froze because it was so cold.  All without complaining.  As parents, we don't help them.  The expectation from day 1 was that the kids would care for these animals by themselves, and if there was ever any complaining they wouldn't have animals anymore. 

One time they missed a feeding because they were playing around inside.  I made the kids skip lunch, if their animals went hungry then so would they.  Notice I said this only happened once. You can call me harsh, but these lessons will stick with these kids forever.

• Mark W. in Franklin, TN writes:

Jeff in Minnesota has asked a great question about raising “tough” kids. I think the foundation to raising kids that have a measure of toughness about them starts with letting them experience the consequences of their actions. So many parents now are the “helicopter” parents that hover around their kids and protect them from everything. There are no consequences for bad decisions. I have always believed that stupid should hurt, and when my kids did stupid stuff, I let them feel the result of their questionable actions. Obviously, I wasn’t going to let them experience physical harm (or worse), but I felt it important that they learn that actions have consequences.

As they grew older, the “actions have consequences” lessons transitioned to accountability for their words and actions. They owned what they said and did and had to work through any negative results. Too many parents step in and help their kids avoid consequences, and this is the greatest disservice any parent can do for their children. Learning accountability (both physical, mental, and emotional) is foundational to toughness in each of those areas.

The physical activities, built on this foundation, will create a child that has a sense of self-confidence and accountability. That is a “tough” individual in this world today.

Great stuff as always. Thanks for all you do.


Keep the emails coming. This is a topic you're not going to see The View cover. This is 100% Screencaps red meat and exactly why this column is attracting new readers by the day who can't believe there's a spot on the Internet where people are talking about things they're experiencing in life.

Now, let's pivot into lawn mowing and the wokes coming for your gas-powered mowers...and Zambonis!

Thank you to the readers who sent me a heads up on what's going on in Denver where they want your gas mowers and leaf blowers. While researching that case, I came across what they're up to in Minnesota where a couple of libs want a full sales ban on gas-powered mowers, chainsaws, and even gas-powered Zambonis.

No, I'm not joking.

According to Bob Vila's website, a chainsaw battery will last 30-40 minutes. I would love for this Heather Edelson woman in Minnesota to head north of Minneapolis away from her woke-topia and look those residents in the face and tell them under her plan, they'd no longer be allowed to buy a gas-powered chainsaw.

You think Heather has the guts to go out front in her yard to tell her landscapers that as of 2025, under her plan, they'd only be allowed to buy battery-powered zero-turns?

Now, it's clear as day what's going to eventually happen here. The manufacturers will ultimately stop selling gas-powered lawnmowers so you have to marry them and buy their batteries for the life of the mower and the politicians will get their woke-topia they've been dreaming of.

Instead, these jerkoffs have to come up with their headline-grabbing nonsense that makes them look cool within their hip neighborhood circle. This is nothing more than social gathering resume material to brag about.

Imagine Heather going to her cocktail hours with her husband who is like the CEO of United Healthcare across Minnesota and the Dakotas.

"OMG, Heather...thank you so much for standing up for the ozone layer by attempting to ban gas-powered're our hero, Heather!"

Heather: Oh, thank you so much for the kind words. I'm just doing my job, Becca! (wink, wink)

"Thank you for standing up for us, Heather! We must ban gas-powered chainsaws and leaf blowers once and for all."

And all this coming from the types that drive massive SUVs and dabble in flying on private jets.

Go away. All of you. Leave us alone you frauds.

Stay tuned, Michael J.

Have you ever played AR-15 golf?

• Doug J. in Omaha asked me last week about sponsoring a golf team to compete in an AR-15 outing in Norfolk, NE, but I have questions about AR-15 golf.

I watched a local news report on how golfers will shoot golf balls out of the AR, but the outing organizers claim teams will only use an AR during the 9-hole round.

Wait a minute, how?

Do you putt with the AR? How?

What about those short game finesse shots from 75 yards out? Does the AR have a finesse setting to really dump one in pin high?

I'm not ruling out sponsoring Doug and having a Screencaps team blasting AR-15 golf balls, I just need a few answers because of course Team Screencaps wouldn't be going to finish at the bottom of the leaderboard. If we're going, we're going to win.

I can't believe how powerful my simple Pizza Hut dine-in field report was for this community

• Galen in Johnson City, TN is back and sharing his Pizza Hut memories and how he met a life mentor while hanging at the local Pizza Hut back in the day.

Been a minute, but I stay busy in spite of retired life. Thanks for your acknowledgements of all us seasoned folks that read and contribute to SC/TNML. We may be a little longer in the tooth, but we have our experiences and our love for America to contribute to the greatest daily column in the USA!

I have read all the Pizza Hut stories with great interest. I wavered on telling you mine, but here goes. It wasn't so much as what was going on inside Pizza Hut in Johnson City, TN, but what was going on outside. Our local Pizza Hut on North Roan Street became a part of our culture as it  became the "place to be and be seen" for us local teens. But, we stayed in the parking lot. It was 1974 and "American Graffiti" was the movie that I think inspired this Pizza Hut to be our gathering place. Drive ins had pretty much died so we decided to gather at the Hut.

We went to the Hut every night we could just to hang out, BS with our buddies, check out the local talent, and just be away from our parents. We survived it well...there were no shootings, carjackings, robberies, nor crimes against nature. Yes, the Pizza Hut management sometimes became irritated with our presence in the parking lot, but we were mostly respectful and mostly behaved. We DID NOT scare away business...they did well!!

I met a mentor in the  Pizza Hut parking lot that was a Senior when I was a lowly Sophomore. He took me under his wing and talked to me about life. I have since told him how much his wisdom helped and inspired me at that young impressionable age. He later became a long time, well respected Chief of Police in our beloved town and I still remain friends with him and am forever grateful for his guidance. Screencaps NEVER know when an unexpected mentor comes along and could change your life.

We did venture inside, usually Sunday nights to talk about the weekend and what lies ahead. I enjoyed most of all the Italian Sandwich at the Hut. Yes, pizza was good, but that sandwich with chips, dill pickle, and the Coke in the red plastic!! The juke box rocked all the tunes of the day by The Doobie Brothers, 

REO Speedwagon, and The Marshall Tucker Band. So, Pizza Hut provided me a mentor, a hangout place, great music, and a damn good Italian Sandwich. 49 years later, I still call that a win!

In closing, I first touched base with you about a year ago this time. Our Class of 1975 boys went on a Senior Citizens Beach trip 47 years after the fact of our Senior Beach Trip to Myrtle Beach, SC. Well, it must be a tradition because I am leaving Sunday for our next one. Looks like a week of debauchery with Pickleball, Shuffleboard, Bocce Ball, Cornhole and BSing by the fire. I will keep you posted as "Senior Citizens Go Wild!" Yea, right!

Screencaps brings back good memories because that's what we do

• Harry B. in Lafayette, LA writes:

Just wanted to let you know that you made my day in the column. Today's @80snewsscreens Tweet captured my old boss from my local career in TV. That was over 25 years ago, but seeing him brings back fond memories of a man that, despite his questionable choice in hairstyle and tough exterior, was kind and generous. 

I know you know of the low pay, high stress and long hours of the business.  Despite barely having two pennies to rub together back in the day, I had saved up to pay for a rental car to drive to Panama City for my honeymoon. I had asked him a couple of months beforehand if we had any discounts I could use since most companies advertised with us. Just before the wedding, he called me in his office to let me know that he arranged a rental car for us. I was very grateful, but just expected something small. When I get to the place, the agent pulls around a fully loaded '96 Chrysler 300--leather, sunroof, everything!  It meant everything to be able to surprise my new bride the morning after the wedding to roll out in more than our old set of wheels. 

He passed away a few years ago, but i wanted to thank you for the reminder of good times gone by.

That's it. Another work week is in the books and it's time to enjoy whatever you enjoy doing over the final weekend in February. Personally, I'm playing in an indoor golf tournament with a big group of golf buddies.

It'll be nice to hit the links under perfect conditions and really let the big dog (off-brand, no-name) driver do some eating. BTW, I hope they set the gimme range to 9-feet because it will allow me to go low, possibly into the 80s.

Stay tuned.

Now go give 100% at work (I can't remember the reader who told me this week it's impossible to give 110%).


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Written by
Joe Kinsey is the Senior Director of Content of OutKick and the editor of the Morning Screencaps column that examines a variety of stories taking place in real America. Kinsey is also the founder of OutKick’s Thursday Night Mowing League, America’s largest virtual mowing league. Kinsey graduated from University of Toledo.