Spadea — Time to toughen up, New Jersey
Had a great conversation this morning with Dr. Rich Mojares who's one of the more well known Jersey shore docs. Of course mainly it's his office mascot Stitches who people remember. Nothing like branding your business with a great dog!
We discussed a couple serious subjects during the conversation. So many people are quick to judge the pharmaceutical industry and doctors for the seemingly out-of-control heroin epidemic. I asked Dr. Rich about docs being vilified and he agreed with me that one of the biggest issues is a lack of coping skills among younger people today. My take — and the doc echoed this — is that society is quick to blame everyone except the person making bad decisions from a position of weakness.
Some people are more susceptible to addiction. Some people process things in a way that makes them more vulnerable, but most people with the proper support, coaching and upbringing can face the temptations and win. I've heard this over and over again from former addicts, parents who have lost kids, medical professionals, law enforcement member and community leaders.
I used the discussion to also address the fact that my wife and I raised our kids a bit differently than the expected way in today's America. No child safety locks on cabinets...yes even the cabinets with dangerous chemicals. No knob protectors on the stove; no helmet when we taught them to ride a bike. We used the old fashioned "face your fear" and "learn to protect your head by not taking unnecessary risks and falling properly." Common sense goes a lot further in the world than over protection.
I realize that we are blessed and our kids so far have avoided any life altering disasters. My wife always says it's half the parents and half the kids. I agree with her. We can take half credit and should bear half the blame for things that go wrong. It's a daily battle to be a good parent. Some days you win, others you don't. My intention is to share the philosophy that either way the goal should be to prepare kids for the adversity of the real world. It's ugly out there, you can't be with them forever.
This concept of raising kids to make decisions and protect themselves applies to our view of sports as well. My son plays football. He's an incoming freshman this year and is already practicing with the team. He wanted to play and we let him start at a very young age. My logic? Learn the game before the kids are big enough to really hurt each other. Learn to tackle. Learn to deal with pain, adversity, trash talk. All a part of growing up and becoming an adult.
Somehow as a society we seem to have missed these important lessons in today's society. During the first week of practice this summer he broke his finger going for a pass. My first question was "did you catch it?" He answered, "Yes, Dad." I do think took a little pride in his answer knowing that the value is being tough.
There's no one size fits all solution to major problems, especially the opioid addiction crisis which impacts families at all income levels and demographics. There's one thing that is certain though, raising the next generation to cope with adversity and manage pain and suffering will prepare them for the real world that they'll be facing soon enough.
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