A Christian Response – Peterson’s 11th Rule of Life
Rule 11 / Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
This is the longest chapter and heaviest going. It begins innocuously with Peterson discussing teenage boys skateboarding. These boys take what many consider unnecessary risks to their personal safety. But Peterson sees it as a normal and necessary part of growing up. “They were trying to become competent—and it’s competence that makes people as safe as they can truly be.” Peterson discusses the danger of creating rules to remove all the dangers from life.
Peterson then goes on to discuss the behaviour of various anti-social people but it’s hard to see an obvious connection between them and protecting our children from everything that might be dangerous. But in the Coda at the end of the book he writes, “I hope … that you strengthen and encourage those who are committed to your care instead of protecting them to the point of weakness.”
Petersen encourages his readers to teach their children resilience and if they don’t they will grow up with unrealistic expectations. Some will feel guilty about their privileges and want to create justice and equality for everyone but as Peterson discusses this, using history and politics, it becomes clear this isn’t possible. Peterson’s solution is for people to “straighten up,” that is, develop healthy self-esteem, resilience and self-determination.
History would suggest we have been largely unable to do this.
There would be some Christians who would disagree with Peterson and place more emphasis on helping the disadvantaged, but I didn’t sense Peterson would be opposed to this, providing it was helping them and not enabling them to be dependent. God too wants people to develop healthy self-esteem and resilience. Throughout the Bible, God seeks to teach his people to use godly wisdom in all areas of their lives, including child-raising.
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