Monday, September 19, 2011

Helicopter Moms and The Death of Childhood As We Know It.

It is becoming sadly apparent that kids are no longer allowed to be kids, especially boys!  The other day I saw a little 4 year old riding his little bike around his driveway.  The bike had training wheels and the poor little boy looked like he was ready for World War III.  He had on a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads.  Now my thought was, "what is the worst that could happen?  This little boy is riding in circles in the driveway with training wheels on.  His bike is only a foot tall!"  So instead of letting this poor boy run out and play his mom had to get him ready for battle, making bike riding a hot and uncomfortable experience.  Not to mention the fear that the mother instilled in her son makes riding a bike out to be a very dangerous and risky experience in the mind of the child.  This is just one example of parent's paranoia ruining childhood.

I live across the street from an elementary school, all the kids who attend this school live within a mile of this school, but from that whole school there are probably fewer than 100 kids  that I see walking home, but after and before school that place is a parking lot of parents picking up and dropping off their kids.  Now I live in a very small town.  These kids do not have to cross any major roads and they know most of the people on their walking route.   I remember walking to school in blizzards and having a blast. It was an adventure and a badge of honor that I braved the storm and made it through. recently I saw on TV a mother who was being brought up on child neglect charges for having her 6 year old walk to school. What the hell! This is ridiculous let kids be kids. If they get hurt they get hurt and they will survive just as we all did.  I think we are doing a huge disservice to our children by helicoptering them.

Everyday I see mothers petrified by fear about letting their kids be kids.  Parents that won't let their kids walk two blocks to school, parent's who won't let their kids head out and explore, parents who won't let their kids just be kids.  Instead mothers keep their children safely inside watching TV and playing video games.  In the film trailer for Mother Nature's Child I heard these staggering statistics.  On average children spend 44 hours per week in front of some sort of monitor, whether TV or computer.  These same children spend only 40 minutes outside.  My feeling is that the huge problems we have in our society with kids being raised by the screen, results in many of our major societal problems, and has to do with overprotective parenting.

- What is a Helicopter Mom?
Just like a helicopter hovers over it's target a helicopter mom hovers over her children.  She watches every move, does not allow her children to take any risks and is the first to go yell at a teacher or a coach when she feels they have been treated unfairly.  She never allows them to fight their own battles and pretty much lives the child's life for them.  What's wrong with a mom being concerned about her kids?  Nothing at all, but everything can be taken too far and helicopter moms have taken this too far.

-What's the Harm?
Children, especially young boys are built for adventure.  They are made to get into some trouble and to get scraped and bruised, they are made to get into fights and to get dirty.  When we keep them protected from this, one of two things will happen, they will either become passive men, too afraid to stand up for themselves in life, or they will become masked men, living their adventures in unhealthy ways either by getting into drugs and gangs or becoming addicted to video games, These unhealthy outlets are places where a boy can be adventurous, these are places where a boy feels free and unrestricted.  The problem is that when we deprive boys from finding adventure in their own ways, they find it in another way which is usually more dangerous and destructive than if we had just let them do their thing from the beginning.

- Where is This Paranoia Coming From
Sensationalized media is the source of much of parent's paranoia in our society.  Things really aren't that much more dangerous than when we were kids and in some cases are safer but parent's seem to think that things are much worse than they are.  The U.S. Department of Justice, stated in a 2009 report that the violent crime rate is actually decreasing.  In 1993 about 23 out of every 1000 people were a victim of a violent crime that number has dropped to about 6.  So tell me again why we are getting so paranoid about our kid's safety?  Media is the biggest problem they make small and isolated incidents seem common and as if they are the norm when in reality they are very uncommon and unlikely to happen to any normal person.

-What do we do?
The answer to this problem is simple but needs to be implemented by every parent.  Just let your kids be kids!  Let them play, let them explore.  this does not mean have no boundaries and to not worry at all about the safety of your kids.  Their safety is also your responsibility but don't take it overboard.  If your kid breaks an arm, it happens.  If they are not in any danger that will leave lasting problems such as death or serious injury, don't worry so much.  Kids will get scraped and bruised and broke.  It is part of being a kid and it is what made being a kid so much fun.  Let them get into a little trouble and let them get a few bumps and bruises.  They like it!

1 comment:

  1. Sweetheart, it's "Helicopter PARENTS." Not a gender thing. "Finding the Man" should know better than to blame the moms ;-D
    Signed by a Formerly-Feminist Mom, recovering but still defensive