I’m shifting gears again and instead of doing a silly gag I thought I’d try making a more thoughtful statement.

Naturally every parent wants their children to stay safe. However, I sometimes think our society is taking things too far. Statistically children have never been safer yet helicopter parenting is rampant. Children are no longer allowed to just hang out with their friends – the parents must arrange playdates. Kids are constantly being strapped in or buckled down. Playgrounds might as well be covered in bubble wrap. The unfortunate side effect of all this protection is that many children never really learn how to fend for themselves or how to manage risk. No one lets them face any.

As a parent there is also a very real fear that if you don’t chaperone your kids 24/7 you could pay a heavy price. I’ve read stories on social media about parents who have been investigated for child neglect for things as simple as leaving their kids alone in the car for a few minutes or letting them walk to school alone. More than once I’ve accompanied my kids to the park not because I feared for their safety but because I feared some neighborhood busybody calling Child Protective Services if I let them go alone.

I understand the instinct to protect our children but there’s a point where it all gets a little silly, even unhealthy. Parenting is a difficult balancing act and yes, supervision and safeguards are sometimes needed. But kids also need the freedom (within reason) to take risks, make mistakes, even hurt themselves. One of the ironies of life is that times of pain, struggle, and failure are usually when the real growth happens.

Here’s a long but very thoughtful article from The Atlantic about the downsides of helicopter parenting and the unintended damage it may be doing. Worth a read!

EDIT: A few days after posting this I found another excellent article on this topic from The Art of Manliness website, listing some possible reasons why overprotective parenting has become so common.

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