University of Life

My stepdaughter is away at Leicester University and was recently taught a valuable lesson from the University of Life. Under pressure from her landlord to re-sign the lease on the house for her third year, she gathered two of her three housemates together to sign for another year. Unfortunately, despite the promises of the fourth housemate, he decided not to stay but move elsewhere. This left the three who had signed liable for the rent for the fourth also and a 25% uplift in the cost. Much stress ensued but eventually a new housemate was found to share the cost. The lesson learned? Don't take the verbal re-assurances of someone (especially a student?!) over a cold hard signature.


It did set me thinking, however, about the attitude of young people to risk. Naivety led them to this position and that is perfectly understandable, but kids today grow up in a world where everything is done and organised for them. They go to pre organised groups, which have been safely risk assessed by the organisers, they are taken there by parents eager to ensure that they see their offspring over the threshold before departing and they are not allowed out of the house for fear of what the outside world might unleash upon their poor unsuspecting souls.

Contrast that with how we grew up 30 years ago. We were out from dawn to dusk (and sometimes beyond), only returning home to be refuelled with some Findus Crispy Pancakes (Cheese and Corn or Minced Beef?) before setting out to build that extension to the den or lay down some more bike tyre rubber at the bottom of the hill with a record breaking skid. That's where we learned about risk. I remember swimming across the Trent to impress a girl I fancied. Boy, did that teach me that was a risky thing to do. I have stuck to buying flowers since. But we experimented, we learned and we grew wise.

We need to give our kids the space and freedom to grow up and discover risk for themselves, not manage it all away from them before they even know what it is. Otherwise we are breeding a generation who will not understand the risks they will face in the adult world, and that, my friend, is risky indeed.