I was having dinner with a friend when he told me about his daughter’s latest drawing. It was a picture of a beer can inside a red circle with a big red line through the middle. Just like the one she saw in her DARE coloring book. The message is clear: Daddy, please don’t drink beer because it is evil and you will die young and alone.

“What should I do,” he asked. “This DARE thing has her scared to half to death.”

He wondered if maybe he ought to keep his brew back behind the broccoli and only indulge late at night after his daughter had gone to bed. I rolled my eyes and told him he should drink the thing in front of her so she could see that he did it and nothing happened. The world did not end and sometimes the teachers at school don’t know it all.

We went on to discuss all the dangers awaiting our still-innocent kids out there in the Big Bad World. We lamented our past transgressions and looked forward fearfully to the day we’d have to let our kids attend a party, drive the car, or God forbid – go on a date.  Standard stuff.

But that image of this guy looking over his shoulder before reaching past the carefully arranged romaine to retrieve a cold one stuck with me. However, he’d made a good point.

“If she’s so upset about it, why shouldn’t I spare her?”

And isn’t that what we all want to do? Spare our children any pain we can? The trouble comes in where to draw the line. Nevermind that you’re almost certainly doing more damage to a kid by lying than telling the truth. Nevermind the teacher’s reaction when your princess confides that Daddy hides beer. Nevermind that by giving in to the status quo we’re robbing our kids of the very best gift we have to give: our own wisdom

What we all have to ask ourselves is what is our tolerance to let our kids experience pain? What is our level of faith that they can endure minor hurts and come out the other end better for it? We’ve got children who will never ride a bicycle because they’re afraid to fall, and their parents are afraid to let them. At some point our children are going to face major pain and not we cannot experience it for them. Then what?

All this to say – it’s just a beer for crying out loud. What is it coming to when a man can’t come home to a beer after work? How is it our kids are the ones busting up all our fun? I’m going to mix up a mojito right now and ponder.

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