Rugby legend Sir Brian Lochore says political correctness is destroying New Zealand.
Sir Brian, who coached the All Blacks to their 1987 Rugby World Cup victory, urged fathers to let their children take risks - but to lay down rules and impose "consequences" if rules are broken. He was speaking at a breakfast hosted by educators Parents Inc yesterday.
The group's founder, Ian Grant, told more than 1000 fathers at the event that society was turning fathers into "male mothers" obsessed with safety instead of adventure.
"Our society is trying to turn fathers into male mothers. You ain't," he told them.
Sir Brian, who captained the All Blacks from 1966 to 1970, laid the blame on political correctness.
"We are living in a PC world which is destroying us, where you actually can't put the hard word on people when they have digressed and committed bad blunders," he said.
"One of the advantages of being a farmer is that I was able to work with my children. You can take them on the back of your motorbike, which you're not supposed to do any more.
"You can take them on your horse, which you're not supposed to do any more.
He said his daughters went to a rugby game at three weeks old, and later played in the mud while their dad downed a jug in the bar after a game.
"In the evenings we went to the rugby parties with the kids, who slept in the back of the car. We can't do that any more because we haven't got rid of the perpetrators that actually destroy our society."
He said he trusted his friends to discipline his children and they trusted him to discipline theirs.
"My friends were my children's role models and I was my friends' children's role model," he said.
"The one thing I believe is important in life is respect. They respected authority, they respected teachers, I respected the teachers. We lack a great deal of respect for authority nowadays, there's always someone protesting.
"Respect and role models are very important in life. You as a father, with the aid of your partner - I can't say 'wife' these days, PC. You are the one who sets the ground rules. And don't ever tell me that the kids don't want to know where the line is. They do."
As a coach, he told the All Blacks they could do anything they liked off the field as long as they didn't annoy anyone or break anything.
"All I had to say was, 'Hey boy, I think you're annoying me,"' he said.
"People have to make decisions, and people do make mistakes. But make sure that you take action - that there are consequences, and that you actually follow them through.
"Yes, I smacked my children, but I've never hit them. Yes, I smacked other people's children, but I never hit them. But we are not allowed to do that any more in this PC world."
A West Auckland father who runs the Changeworks Trust for young people referred by schools and the Youth Court, Ron Hepworth, told the Herald later that Sir Brian was "coming from a different era".
"What does 'PC' really mean?" he asked. "PC, to me, is the awareness that a community has around statements and behaviours that are really hurtful. They're small, but they're aimed at people who are less empowered than the person who is complaining about PC.
"I get brassed off with PC at times too, but ultimately it's changing the community's attitude to things. It's actually not okay to laugh at Asian children, it's actually not okay to say, 'That's a thing a woman would do,' and all those generalised put-downs."
Mr Hepworth will co-lead a "journey to the falls" in the Waitakeres for fathers and their sons as part of Waitakere City's Fathering Week next week, and agreed with Sir Brian that men should encourage their children to take more risks than their mothers might.
"There is a male way in which men approach circumstances, and there is a female way in which women approach circumstances," he said.
"If either of those parties are not there, it's my observation that there is a distortion in the way that children are experiencing the world."