There’s a new show on television called Bubble Wrap Kids. The premise is that while all parents worry about their children, some parents are so over-protective that they are stifling their children’s growth and development. But are these parents right to worry? Is the world we live in so much more different from the one we grew up in that children require a parents to bubble wrap them to stay safe?
Studies have long shown that having overly protective parents is often associated with children becoming more dependant, neurotic and susceptible to a host of other, less desirable traits. The term helicopter parent, coined in the 90s by Jim Fay and Foster Cline, used the term helicopter parents to refer to parents who hover over their children in an effort to keep them safe and protect them from experiencing disappointment, failure or harm. These parent often take the role of protector, problem solver, advocate for their child, even when that child leaves for college.
In Bubble Wrap Kids, Lenore Skenazy, who made headlines in 2008 when she let her 9-year-old son ride the New York subway on his own, tries to encourage parents to give their child the freedom they need to grow into self-sufficient teens and adults. And while the parents on the show are often so over-the-top overprotective that we can pat ourselves on the back for our own outstanding parenting ability, can we, as regular, run of the mill parents, learn something from Skenazy’s show?
Are We Dangerizing Childhood?
A mom of two girls, 9 and 11, I am uneasy about letting them walk to the park or the corner store on their own. A situation quite different than when I was young. Having grown up in the 70s, I roamed around the neighborhood, alone, at night, in the dead of winter. I scraped my knee, fell out of a tree and was teased by mean girls. Is the state of our society so different now that we really need to be so overly protective? I mean, when I was young, there were no car seats, no bike helmets, no kneepads. And most of us survived. And while I am in no way suggesting that we forgo the use of car seats and helmets, have we “dangerized” childhood so much that we are growing a generation of neurotic kids? Or just a generation of neurotic parents.
Time To Face Reality
In reality, our neighborhoods are safer now than they were thirty years ago. The crime rate is down, so is the murder rate. And while there are dangers abound on the Internet, instead of preventing our children from surfing, we need to give them the tools to do so safely and confidently. The same with riding bikes, playing dodge ball and using chopsticks.
By providing your child with the opportunity to make mistakes, and learn from them, by letting them get hurt, and then helping them heal, by teaching them how to stick up for themselves, we will be creating a generation of independent, self-sufficient kids who will, in turn, try not to become helicopter parents themselves.
But that’s just my opinion.