Looking for the dumbest thing on the internet this week? Look no further. It’s a disturbing trend called the “fire challenge,” in which teens douse themselves in flammable liquid, light themselves on fire, and post videos of the results to social media.
It’s popular, it’s extremely dangerous, and most importantly, it’s a mistake these teens made on their own, in a necessary part of the trial and error process that is growing up. We understand the value in that, so we’re going to let this whole “fire challenge” episode slide, and we hope you will too.
After all, these are formative years, when teens are discovering their identities. Sometimes they try new things out. Sometimes those things don’t work. Sometimes they’re hospitalized with severe injuries because the fire continues burning far longer than they or any of their friends anticipated. But they live, they learn, and they grow through this process of exploration.
So let’s all resist the temptation to be helicopter parents and to give in to our knee-jerk reaction to get outraged about this fad, or say to our kids, “Never, ever set yourself on fire.” It comes from a place of love, but the only flame it ends up smothering is our kids’ spirit.
A flower cannot blossom if you’re standing over it. You have to let the sun and the rain in.
Here’s a video of some teens going their own way, and maybe, just maybe, learning a valuable life lesson or two:
Sure, we might do things differently, but that’s exactly the point: We’re not them. Teens are becoming their own people, which can sometimes mean taking risks: staying out late, igniting their rubbing alcohol–drenched bodies with matches, and exploring all the possibilities their burgeoning independence brings. And all the responsibilities, too!
But when we intrude on teens’ lives, we run the risk of giving them scars deeper and longer-lasting than second-degree abdominal burns.