제안 포커스타즈 한국_로얄 바카라_프로모션 카지노 룰

November 19, 2009 | By More

Many parents are starting to wake up to the insanity of “helicopter parenting,” always striving to hover over their children, even as they get to be teenagers, in order to protect them from largely-imagined evils and to push them to be hyper-competitive. Helicopter parenting takes many forms, including over-scheduling children with enrichment activities and classes and fretting at each and every indication that a child is less than perfect.

When I was a child, I was fortunate that my parents sent me off to take guitar lessons for a half-hour per week. I appreciated that opportunity. Other than that one activity, though, I was pretty much on my own. I played a bit of soccer in grade school, but my parents almost never went to the games or practices, nor did I expect them too. Nor did most other parents attend most of of the games. There were no such things as “select” leagues, where parents would convince themselves that their child was the next Pele, justifying three games every weekend in far flung locations, some of them out-of-state.

As a child, I was allowed considerable time to do whatever I wanted, or to do nothing at all. When I was in the mood to play sports, it was usually a pick-up game, where the children knocked on doors to round up other players, choose the teams, gather their own bats and balls, officiated their own disputes and tend to their own minor injuries. During the summer we sometimes played sports most of the day, yet there were no parents anywhere to be seen. We were allowed to make lots of mistakes, thus allowing us to really learn many things, including how to really understand other people.

This was a refreshingly wonderful way to handle things, when looking in retrospect. This was much better than having 20 parents each driving one-hour round trips to watch their 15 fourth graders play 50 minutes of officially refereed soccer. To be sure, I think that team sports can be a good thing. It’s all the hovering parents that seems creepy. If most of the parents had shown up and shouted constant encouragement at my games as a 10-year old, I wouldn’t have felt loved–I would have wondered what was wrong with all of them. After all, it’s only a game, especially for young children.

Whenever you find middle or upper class families these days, things are entirely different than they were for me. Many parents simply won’t leave their kids alone; they are too terrified that if left to their own, their children will lose their competitive edges and miss out on the best college, the best job, or the best spouse. The schools that are “good” are too often those that dump several hours of daily homework on small children. Children are too often deemed to need special camps and tutoring, instead of allowing them to explore such things as cooking in their own kitchens and critters in their own back yards (or in a nearby creek) on their own. And the whole sordid phenomenon of helicopter parenting is thoroughly permeated with rampant consumerism.

Image by Troon Lifeboat (creative commons)

Image by Troon Lifeboat (creative commons)

This week, Time Magazine has taken on helicopter parents in an impressively detailed article titled “The Growing Backlash Against Overparenting.” One of the people featured in the Time article is Lenore Skenazy, who advocates “Free Range Kids.”:

[T]oo many parents, says Skenazy, have the math all wrong. Refusing to vaccinate your children, as millions now threaten to do in the case of the swine flu, is statistically reckless; on the other hand, there are no reports of a child ever being poisoned by a stranger handing out tainted Halloween candy, and the odds of being kidnapped and killed by a stranger are about 1 in 1.5 million. When parents confront you with “How can you let him go to the store alone?,” she suggests countering with “How can you let him visit your relatives?” (Some 80% of kids who are molested are victims of friends or relatives.) Or ride in the car with you? (More than 430,000 kids were injured in motor vehicles last year.) “I’m not saying that there is no danger in the world or that we shouldn’t be prepared,” she says. “But there is good and bad luck and fate and things beyond our ability to change. The way kids learn to be resourceful is by having to use their resources.” Besides, she says with a smile, “a 100%-safe world is not only impossible. It’s nowhere you’d want to be.”

In the Time article, you can read that there has been a 25% drop in playtime (for 6-to-8 year olds) from 1981 to1997, while the amount of homework has doubled.

As Sting sings, if you love them, you’ve got to set them free. Otherwise, they’ll never learn to think for themselves and they’ll never turn be allowed to turn into the persons they were destined to become. Because the central message of helicopter parenting is that you don’t trust your children, helicopter parenting is a better way to ruin your child than to help your child. It’s a way to prevent your children from learning by playing, failing and then playing and failing some more. It’s a way to stifle cognitive development, by stealing play time from them.

It too often seems that all of this attention is forced onto children by parents who are working long hours away from their children and trying to make it up by lavishing perfection on their children. Regardless, too many of those who engage in helicopter parenting are not really hovering about for the sake of their children, no matter how much they protest. Rather, as the Time article suggests, they are focused solely on melding trophy children as an attempted display of their own parenting prowess.


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Category: American Culture, children

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    And I really do think another viewing of Lenore Skenazy's short video is in order:


  2. Tim Hogan says:

    I remember playing ball, soccer, football, kick the can, and capture the flag from sunrise to near-dark (and after!)as a kid. My parents were either busy working (dad) or taking care of my other nine sibs (mom).

    We let our kids pick their own activities, like I did when I was little. It makes no sense to me to push my kids into something they don't want and would just tick me off if it were me being pushed.

    However, there are exceptions. Some days we kick the kids out of the house because the weather is too nice to be inside.

    My wife tells the kids to get outside and "run the stink off" which is what her great grandmother told her to do when she was little!

    On some of these days, we may go to a park, go bike riding or some other outdoor activity.

    Yesterday, Ben had two friends over and (outside!) they battled each other for neighborhood domination. Bella and I went to a no-kill shelter we like (Open Door, in House Springs, Mo.) and made sure we had petted all the kitties so they got some love! Our two kitty friends, Spock and Kiss-Kiss, are adopted from Open Door. Some of the kitties are favorites of ours and we look forward to seeing them every six weeks or so when we go out to Open Door. When Bella's a little older, I'll go there with her to volunteer, if she still want to volunteer. The animals really like Bella and Ben and it's really cool to see my kids covered with kitties wanting pets and chins scratched!

    I think if we give kids the space to find their own way, they are more confident, caring and compassionate because these were essential to have their life work.

  3. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    I grew up in a household where my mother was overprotective, and my father was seldom home ( he worked multiple low paying jobs ). Fortunately, I managed to spend a lot of time visiting my grandparents (both paternal and maternal) and they understood the necessity for unstructured play.

    My paternal grandfather died when I was quite young, but paternal grandmother lived into her late 90's in an old farmhouse on a 200 acre farm. One of my favorite pastimes in the winter involved picking up sheets of ice from the hog wallows and breaking them with frozen dirt clods.

    When I was older, I got to explore the hills and hollows on the west side of the farm, accompanied with the dogs to protect me from the snakes and the occasional squirrel or groundhog.

    My maternal grandparents were divorced before I was born. When I was a teen, my maternal grandfather remarried to a divorced woman who was close to my mother's age and got 4 rowdy step children in the deal. The youngest stepchild was my age, and I would visit with them in the small town where they lived.

    There, along with my "step-uncle" and his friends we would spend our time in strenuous physical (and somewhat dangerous) activities such as free-climbing road-cuts and sliding*. My grandfather simply set rules and we were responsible to follow the rules and pay the consequences if we broke them.

    And we did. One cold winter night, we had a hot water bomb battle and returned late after our curfew, army surplus jackets stiffened with ice, to find that we were locked out of the house. We spent the rest of the night in the root cellar, where the temperature averaged about 50 degrees, and was still warmer than 28 degrees. And we learned to be back on time.

    My paternal grandmother remarried to an expert welder who was one of the welders that constructed the gateway arch. For many years afterward, he taught welding classes at a technical vocational school in East St Louis, while they lived in Belleville Il. I remember as a child, visiting for the summer, watching the Cardinals play at Busch Stadium (II), a trip to Grant's Farm, and of course a visit to the Arch.

    *note:What is "sliding"

    Sliding is sort of the hillbilly version of skiing, requiring neither skis on snow. The slider wears tough footwear and slides down a steep hill on gravel, wet leaves, mud or any other available slippery surface. Speed and direction is controlled by grabbing small tree trunks along the way.

    When I was in my thirties, I read Chuck Yeager's autobiography, and was quite surprised to learn that he had done his share of sliding as a teen in West Virginia, and that he once evaded capture during WWII by sliding off a mountain.

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Last week, a ticket seller at the Long Island Railroad told me that she would not sell a ticket to ride on the train to my 11-year old daughter if my daughter were riding alone. She's supposedly not old enough. Only when she's 13 would they sell her a ticket. Seems like we've got a helicopter-railroad on our hands.