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Helicopter Parents or Free-Range Kids: How protective should we be?

How protective should we be?

By Elizabeth Floyd Mair |

When I was a kid in a suburb of Albany, New York in the late sixties, our mothers turned us outside to play in the neighborhood all day in the summer and called us home for dinner at dusk by leaning out the front door and bellowing our names. Games we played included “Murder” – an elaborate theater bringing together kids of all ages and involving a killer, a victim and a detective – and “Boston Strangler” (we took turns playing the nefarious doorbell ringer and the poor souls who opened the door to him). Where we were from the time we left until the time we sat down to eat was of little import to our mothers; they knew we were probably at Dougy’s or Maureen’s or Meg’s house or speeding between on our bicycles, and that was good enough.

My daughter, Olivia, is two and a half now and very outgoing; she believes everyone she meets will soon be her new best friend. She rides down the supermarket aisle in the cart, waving and calling out to everyone who passes by. Well-meaning neighbors sometimes tell me that I’m going to have to train her soon to be less trusting of people. Will I really, I wonder? Do I need to train her to be less open, to be more timid and fearful of strangers?

As a parent, certainly part of my responsibility is to introduce the world to her. At least during these early years, I have the luxury of focusing on its wonders, not its terrors. I take her to wander through underground caves, to listen to the mournful and yet catchy strains of solo klezmer clarinet live at the public library, and to help me feed carrots through a fence to a one-ton animal with three-foot horns. Placing wonders before her seems to work for now, when she is still small enough that independence is mostly a matter of deciding which shirt to allow me to put on her. Now she is always with family or with her (carefully vetted) daycare, so this is almost an academic question. But it’s a good time to begin to think about where do I draw the lines – I want her to be confident and unafraid, but also properly cautious. Eventually she will begin to spend some time on her own, and this will become a real concern.

The director of the New York Branch of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Ed Suk, tells me that, surprisingly, incidents of abduction of children by strangers or near-strangers have not actually increased over the last 40 years. What is different, he says, is the media coverage of these cases. Today, as then, there are only about 125 in the entire country each year.

I suppose it’s true – in 1970 we had no Nancy Grace, no America’s Most Wanted. Faces looked out from milk cartons starting a few years later, but these didn’t offer many wrenching details of the victims’ lives and mothers’ anguish for parents around the country to worry over like so many rosary beads. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea that there may not actually be more cases occurring today.

Olivia runs down the aisle of Home Depot laughing and chortling, then runs out of view, and I have a moment of panic till I find her in the next aisle a few seconds later. Out walking my dogs one day I see a neighborhood girl, eight years old, looking as contented as can be in her helmet, pedaling down her street; at the corner she turns back around and pedals the other way. She keeps on riding back and forth, like a dog contained within an invisible fence.

Her mother confirms to me that Taylor’s not allowed to go off the street. It’s not just about strangers, she says; it’s also the young guys who come racing through the neighborhood at high speeds. Yet, strangely, Taylor’s face expresses all the same happiness – even freedom – that I felt as a girl when I raced down one street after another, practicing holding on with just one hand or no hands.

Her mom is right: it’s not all about stranger danger. The web site of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells me that accidental injury – in particular, drowning and car accidents – is actually the number one killer of kids ages 1-14.

Then, of course, Suk reminds me that the bogeyman can be at home all along. One in five girls and one in 10 boys, he says, will be sexually victimized by the time they reach age 18, and the greatest risk is from family members and others who are part of the fabric of their daily lives.

Walking through a parking lot, Olivia wants to “walk on my own feet” but refuses to hold my hand. So I carry her and explain that in a parking lot you need to look around in all directions all the time and listen closely. Perils can come suddenly, from any direction. Parenting is like that. Olivia has survived the years of greatest risk for SIDS only to grow big enough now to climb up onto the bathroom counter, where, according to an article I read recently, even the toothpaste can kill her.

Meanwhile, I do what I can. I make a game of helping her learn her full name, as well as my name and her daddy’s name. Pretty soon we can start on our address and telephone number.

And I look for things that can inspire wonder while also making life a little safer for her, like the swimming classes she’s been taking at the Y since she was six months old. While of course she still needs close supervision, I like the idea of her learning to trust her body to the water and be buoyant.

She is so happy when, for a few seconds, I take off her swim belt and she paddles furiously to stay afloat all on her own.

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About Elizabeth Floyd Mair

bcelizabethfloydmair

Elizabeth Floyd Mair

Elizabeth Floyd Mair is a freelance journalist who writes personal essays and author interviews for the Times Union newspaper in Albany, New York. She lived in Tokyo for 15 years and also works as a Japanese interpreter.

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46 thoughts on “Helicopter Parents or Free-Range Kids: How protective should we be?

  1. Heba Bullock says:

    I truly enjoyed this article. I am glad that you take the time to point out all the dangers that parents think about, while trying to ensure your child still gets to take in the good things from this world. I feel that is what every parent struggles to balance. Whether they are overprotective or just cautious….finding that balance is important, yet hard in our world today. However by doing the research and finding them main causes of deaths for small children, helps us parents focus our protectiveness on at least some things. Thank you kindly for this great article and your wisdom!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great Article!

  3. Yoko LaCasse says:

    Such an informative article. I struggle with this dilemma also, as my 19-month-old becomes more and more independent everyday. It is reassuring to know, as Heba pointed out, what to focus on specifically as to the main causes of young children’s injuries and death in this day and age.
    I too strive to expand my daughter’s world through experiences, and this article gave me some good ideas! Thank you.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is so smart and timely. Many parents face exactly this dilemma. I really appreciate how the author shares her thoughts.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My sister, the proud mother of a 36 year old man, says that you never stop worrying!
    A lovely, thoughtfully written article about maternal concern. Interesting, do kids ever play “Boston Strangler” now-a-days, or would they get dragged off to therapy?
    The author makes a great statement: kids are always kids and moms are always moms. Loved it.

  6. MargieCarle says:

    I remember running through the woods behind my home for the whole day without a care in the world, except that the neighbor kids may have knocked my fort down! Now I do not see any kids in these same woods. How do they learn the wonders of nature and of silence? Will I be the kind of parent that allows exploration for my 6 month old? I keep telling everyone that I will try to raise him knowing that the world is full of sharp edges and bumps and that somehow he will manage to maneuver them, perhaps only with a few bruises as long as I can guide him. I think that since you expose Olivia to different experiences and let her trust herself to be buoyant, she will grow and learn and will become a strong, independent thinker. Keep up the good work, Olivia’s mom!

  7. Elizabeth Floyd Mair says:

    Nowadays when I see a young girl biking or walking alone, I feel worried for her. When my friends and I were younger, we ruled the small area of about a mile or two around our house. We walked to Candy Kraft with a fistful of coins at about age 11, and sauntered down to the corner pharmacy when we were 12 or 13, to try on cheap perfumes. After school I often sat alone by a stream in the woods near my house — I wouldn’t recommend that kids do that now! But as Eileen said, I think the point is there are always things to be afraid of, and it’s important to face down your fears and keep on going.

  8. Eileen says:

    “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” I feel that as long as you provide Olivia with a suit of armor, however that is done, she will know how to proect herself in risky situations.

  9. Rosana says:

    My 3 year old son waves at people at the grocery store an even says “Hello” to the grumpy shoppers that won’t even bother to wave back. My 11 month daughter reaches for other people that have been talking to her for only a few seconds and sometimes I feel that I am surrounded and when I turn around is people that she has been smiling at, gathering around me to talk to her. I have never thought that there is anything wrong about that. However, there is a little security office in my brain that activates an alarm, every time we walk out the door (make sure he holds my hand when crossing the street or to make sure he is not out of sight for more than 5 seconds at a store) I want them to feel free without knowing that I am watching right behind them.

  10. Marcia Watson says:

    Excellent article by a brilliant writer. Thanks.

  11. EJ says:

    I wish the world was a safer place, but it is hard to know where to draw the line between being over protective and allowing your child infinite freedom. I think the media scares us most of time, having us believe that a child’s domain is more dangerous than it is, but who knows.

  12. Elizabeth Floyd Mair says:

    Rosanna, Sounds wonderful. I wasn’t even thinking at all about a two-year-old’s friendliness being a potentially dangerous thing until several different neighbors warned me that pretty soon I’m going to have to “teach her” to be more shy and withdrawn, which strikes me as bizarre and also possibly true … I’ve only recently started experimenting with letting her out of my sight for a few seconds at the local library. But I cheat, I still keep her within earshot.

    EJ, I know what you mean. I know way too many specific details about specific horrific cases that I can’t help reading about. If it’s true that the number of these cases hasn’t gone up in the last few decades, then at the very least we certainly have much more in-depth reporting on them. I know the name of Madeleine McCann’s favorite stuffed toy, and that Amber Dubois had a check in her pocket for $200 for a baby lamb the day she was abducted. It’s the details that make the cases seem so much more real and for that reason frightening.

  13. Wm S San Francisco says:

    In the new film, The King’s Speech, the speech therapist to King George VI says “You needn’t be governed by fear.” But this smart article makes it clear just how hard it is for a parent to know where to draw the line between sharing the wonders of the world and revealing its perils. Kudos to author (and alert mother!) Elizabeth Floyd Mair.

  14. Cali Mom says:

    Excellent article. I am so glad you mentioned the high incidence of accidental injury. This is actually what I worry most about with my son. He still doesn’t always look where he is going, and we live in a city and I worry with all the cars speeding by. I also appreciate how you mention there are other ways for a child to explore the world. As much I can see that some parents are over-protective, I don’t like the whole “we did it so my better in my day” things.

  15. LiveMom says:

    I have a soon-to-be four year old daughter and a twelve year old son. Recently, within the past six months, my son has been walking to a gas station or Sonic with a group of his friends to buys snacks/ drinks. I was incredibly hesitant at first. Giving him that much freedom is a big responsibility that I wasn’t sure he could handle, but I had to at least allow him to try it out, to prove that he could do it responsibly. And the only way to do that was to hope that I have taught him enough over the past eleven years of his life to know that he will make good decisions when he’s away from me. I always remind myself that the goal of having kids is to raise successful, independent adults and allowing kids some sense of freedom goes hand-in-hand with this goal of mine. Not a moment goes by while he’s out galavanting with his buddies that I am not thinking about all of the bad things that can happen out there. It sure is tough being a parent!

  16. k annie says:

    I cant read this without thinking of Bridget Kevane the mother in Montana that was charged with Child Endangerment for letting her kids go to the mall by themselves. Its such a hard balance to know what is real danger and what is paranoia and overprotectionand what will fly in the modern world. The Kevane story really stuck with me because the kids werent hurt. The older ones werent doing the best job taking care of the younger ones, but caring (too caring? too righteous?) adults spotted them before anyone got hurt. It seems weve all forgotten that when kids are alone, they arent really ALONE. Sure there are weirdos and sickos, but there are also normal people and parents that OF COURSE would step in if a child were in true danger. I just wish we as parents would remember how to step in without doing it only to wag fingersor all CPS. Remember a 70′s free-range childhood also came with 70′s free-range parenting. Ever get disciplined by your friends mom? I sure did. It’s just as much an invisible fence for the kiddos as it is for the adults–for better or worse (I’m not sure).

  17. Denitta says:

    excellent article…i struggle with allowing my children (8 & 4) independence external to our house. I panic when i lose sight of my daughter in target or if I allow them both outside our home to play on the lawn without my husband or me outside too. I *know* in my head that stranger danger isn’t the real threat to our children and that the statistics bear that out; however, it’s the immediate availability of the details of abductions and the proliferation of the warnings to protect your children that definitely strikes the fear in me. I do NOT want to be a helicopter parent…i do want my kids to be able to have initiative and find their own way with us providing a map, but not step by step instructions, but it’s hard…. thank you for putting this into words!

  18. Elizabeth Floyd Mair says:

    K Annie,
    Very interesting point about the invisible fence between parents. I think it’s true, and I definitely don’t think that invisible fence serves parents or kids! I like the 70s-style freedom to cross-discipline. When you lost that freedom, you also lose a certain freedom to observe, enjoy, and appreciate others’ kids. It’s kind of like a general bubble around other people’s kids that we seem to observe these days for no good reason other than custom.

  19. Elizabeth Floyd Mair says:

    Denitta, It’s such a minefield of contradictions, this whole area. I loved playing outside alone as a kid, but I’ve read about too many abductions of kids from their front yards to want to let mine play out there alone till she’s …. 42? And by alone I mean alone without an adult, because again I can think of several stories offhand that involve abductions of kids who were with friends. I don’t want to be a helicopter parent, and I don’t think I am, except maybe in terms of this weird safety issue. Olivia’s just 3 now, so it’s not an issue yet, but I’m sure I will struggle mightily when she starts telling me to go back inside and let her play. At what age will I let her? I have no idea!

    LiveMom, I imagine that a 12-year-old would be old enough to walk with his buddies to Sonic, but I can appreciate the idea that you worry every second that he’s gone. One of the tough things is to try to figure out how to instill in a kid a sense of caution without damaging their sense of confidence. You’re right, we can’t just fling them out of the nest at age 18 and ask them to go be adults.

  20. Elizabeth Floyd Mair says:

    Cali Mom, Right, I’m not sure about what’s the best way to actually do all this, I just notice a huge shift over the course of one generation, which is kind of interesting. Did I mention moms played with us a whole lot less in the seventies too? Moms weren’t really expected to do anything with crayons except give them to us. Different world … And by the way, I am afraid maybe the fear of our kids’ potential for accidental injury may stay with us even when we and they are both old!

  21. Juliet Carpenter says:

    Interesting article, thanks. Do you remember ever seeing a show on Japanese TV about children given their first errand to do? The mother would send the kid out with instructions to buy a loaf of bread or whatever, and the camera would follow the child–usually around four or five–as he or she navigated traffic, found the store and the bread, paid for it and got change, and came back home. It was considered endearing to see kids attempt this with varying degrees of success. I always used to marvel at it. At what age would American mothers send their kids to the store to buy something all on their own???

  22. Susanna Fessler says:

    When my kids were 1 and 3 I simply couldn’t imagine letting them go on their own. Now they’re 9 and 11, and they do play outside all summer evening without my watchful eye (I live in Albany, NY). I think the best we can do as parents is teach our children well about both strangers (don’t accept candy from them) and basic safety (do look both ways before crossing the street), then we have to let go as they grow. We also have to realize that life brings the unexpected, and sometimes it isn’t good. But living in a protective bubble eliminates the excitement that is life. When I was 8 years old my eldest sister, 16 at the time, drowned while swimming at summer camp. My parents were devastated, but to their credit they never once told me or my other siblings that we couldn’t go to camp or couldn’t go swimming after that. As a parent now, I’m super diligent about lifeguarding when my kids swim and I’m always reminding them that they shouldn’t dive in a shallow pool, etc., never forgetting my sister. But, I take my parents’ approach, recognizing that kids need to be kids.

  23. Elizabeth Floyd says:

    Susanna, Good for you! I read somewhere recently that the way to get over any phobia is to realize that life is never completely safe. You’re right about the bubble.

    Juliet, I always thought of that show as being borderline sadistic (?!), because the commentators would watch on hidden cameras and laugh the whole time. Interestingly, I remember that it was not at all uncommon to see kids aged from about six on up commuting to school alone on rush-hour subways in Tokyo.

  24. NoHo Mom says:

    It’s all about traffic and cars for me. We have a gate that closes our front yard off, and we know our neighbors and live in a high pedestrian area, everyone knows our kids (1 and 3). But it’s the idiots who race down our street blowing through the stop sign at 60 mph that keep me up at night. A ball, a scooter, and they’re texting on the phone…

  25. Lenore Skenazy says:

    I loved this piece, too. But then again — I would! Lenore Skenazy, founder, Free-Range Kids (the book, the blog, the movement!)

  26. K Annie says:

    NoHo Mom: Interestingly I think there are so many more speeding cars because there are so many more harried parents running so many more kid-centered errands. Since the kids cant walk home from school or walk to ballet class (things I did as a kidand ballet was AT NIGHT), parents are hitting the road harder and faster than ever before. I also think the rise of regional school systems and the demise of town centers are the blame for less foot traffic and more car traffic, both of which have the effect of making our towns feel less full of smiling, friendly faces (and helpful crossing guards and meter maids) and actually making them less safe with all those fast and furious drivers (Moms included). Its odd that now when I see an adult riding a bike or walking to a store I automatically assume that they are doing that because they HAVE to, because they have a DUI or suspended license, which may or may not be true, but it certainly doesnt help to reclaim that neighborhood feel that were missing these days.

  27. Elizabeth Floyd Mair says:

    Lenore,

    I was not familiar with your web site, but I just checked it out, and it sure is of great interest! For example your statement, “We just do NOT believe that every time school age kids go outside, they need a security detail.” I will explore it more!

  28. NoHo Mom says:

    K Annie: I am sure you are right. However, in our neighborhood in Los Angeles, there is some gang activity that involves speeding and street racing. It’s groups of young men blaring their stereos that skid through stop signs and drive by the park. I hate all of them.

  29. MinneMom says:

    K Annie: I am one of those adults who rides a bike or walks (a lot) and it is not! because I have a DUI or suspended license. In fact a lot of people in my urban town ride or walk for exercise. There are some male adults of a certain ethnic group here in my urban area who are in the 30-40 range who may fit your description. But as DH would say, without proof “it wouldn’t stand up in a court of law.” So please don’t assume that all riders and bicyclists you see are DUI or suspended license.

  30. K Annie says:

    MinneMom: Im glad you walk and ride your bike. I think more people should! What Im saying though, is that there is a stigma attached to getting somewhere in the suburbs by foot or bike and that this is yet another challenge to reclaiming a neighborhood feel, recreating the kind of environment that made parenting more lax and kids more free range. Helicopter parenting vs. Free Range parenting is not a simple this or that kind of choice. Over the past 30 years there have been structural changes in the way we live (many fueled by wealth and development) and think day to day that mean I, as a parent, cant just decide to give my kids the run of the neighborhood. There can be consequences beyond kidnappinglike the Bridget Kevane story I mentioned in a different comment posting. To rally behind Free Range parenting means being willing to see and remedy these larger structural changes and community mindsets (my own included).

  31. Alexandra Owens says:

    a constant battle in my mind all the time

  32. Emily B says:

    Lenore – you’re the best!

  33. AirLucMom says:

    Unfortunately, the battle isn’t over. The teenage years are horrible!! They want more freedom but have no idea of the dangers around them. The internet makes it too easy to post all your info on social networks. These kids don’t even think twice about posting where they live, go to school or where they are at!! Parents must, read those cell phone texts, limit information thier kids post. Know where your kids are going, who they are with & who thier friends parents are!! We must all look out for one anoher’s kids because some kids just haven’t learned any better!!

  34. Mystic Eye says:

    I find it ironic that people (not just parents) are more fearful than ever about letting kids roam the streets and natural areas.

    Kids on bikes now have helmets, and are better trained about bike safety and the rules of the road. Cars have bumpers designed not to injure pedestrians and cyclists, crumple zones, safety glass, better headlights, break away side view mirrors and who knows what else. Streetlights are better designed. Drivers are more regulated. Drunk driving is no longer tolerated and the rates continue to plummet, back them “having one for the road” was expected and tolerated.

    We no longer cause damage by leaving casts on too long, or by ignoring concussions. We have better diagnostic medicine, more treatments, and better physio. Of course I don’t want my kids to NEED it -but it’s far less likely my kids will have the damage to their ankles I do from being told to “walk it off”.

    We have more and more ways to prevent flash floods, dangerous water, less poisonous plants and animals and more awareness of them.

    Drivers are safer, cars are safer, streets are safer, kids on bikes are safer, and yet we are more fearful than ever. Abductions are down, rapes are down, assault is down, car accidents are down, and yet we are more fearful than others. We have 911, and they can even find you if you use a cell, GPS to prevent emergency responders from getting lost, and faster response times, and yet we are more fearful than other. Its time to ask what our payoff is for all this fear because I doubt it is our fears that are keeping us safe.

  35. AManCalledDada says:

    So, some of you wonder why parental anxiety is so high? Have you looked at people driving lately? Crumple zones and bumpers aren’t much use if you’re a pedestrian run down by a texting driver:

    http://amancalleddada.com/2011/03/another-public-service-announcement.html

    Hang up and drive, folks.

    -Da-da

  36. Gretta says:

    This is beautifully written. I think that a lot of today’s helicopter parenting originates in the cultural mindset that children are the most important members of the family, period. If kids are put on a pedestal, certainly some would feel the need to hover to protect their over-prioritized darling.

  37. A concerned teacher says:

    I think parents should just relax a little. Are there dangers out there? There sure are! To children and parents alike. However, parents ought to teach their children about the potential risks in a realistic fashion (remember, the stats you hear over the news are often dramatized because that’s what sells: hell on earth and pure terror as well as drama) and discuss how to avoid them. Teach them proper safety techniques/measures (looking around when biking/walking, don’t go into secluded areas, wear safety gear etc.) as well as self confidence. Studies show that a large portions of abductions, rapes, beatings, etc. are done by someone the victim knows. Teach your children that if something doesn’t feel right, there’s a good chance that it’s not and that it’s okay to back out and to say that you’re not comfortable. My parents told me that it’s better to offend someone by saying that they’re making you uncomfortable than to let the situation unfold and to find out that something did go wrong. If your child is confident in his/herself, then he/she can more easily take care of themselves. By teaching them to be afraid, we’re doing more harm than good.
    And another point: how did you learn about some of the risks out there? Parents telling you and hiding you in the house/hovering over you? Stories from friends/peers? Or going out there yourself? My parents taught me some of the dangers and how to avoid them and then trusted me to take care of myself. They knew full well that if they hid me in the house/hovered over me, I’d never learn to take care of myself. And it’s to these people that horrible things happen because they didn’t know how to avoid it/protect themselves.
    Yes, things do happen even to the most educated, most protected, etc. But do you really want your child to live in fear all the time? Because dear helicopter parents, that’s what you’re doing (and you wonder why you’re driving your kid to the therapist once a week for depression/anxiety).

  38. Helicopter Baby says:

    I am in my 20′s and am a mom myself and I am a product of helicopter parenting. I’m afraid to go out to my mailbox to check my mail. I am afraid to go grocery shopping by myself. I live my entire life in constant fear unless I am with my husband or my parents. It is a terrible, awful way to live but I can’t break out of it. I am small and my parents constantly feared for my safety because it was doubtful that I could defend myself. I was still getting “Don’t go home with strangers,” “Don’t go outside unless your mom or I are home” and “I don’t think you should go to the mall alone” speeches when I had graduated from college and was two weeks away from getting married! Plus, I was older than my own mother was when I got married and she never lived under those restrictions after she married my dad. Now that I have my own baby, I am trying to find some way to NOT impart my devastating fears to him or to let him sense my fear because I don’t want him to live life as I have. However, I can’t shake all the warnings and precautions that I grew up with my whole life, try as I might. Please, for the sake of your child, teach them independence tempered with caution. Don’t keep them paralyzed with fear.

  39. jerryskid8 says:

    Thank You Mystic Eye! I am so sick of the shopworn expressions of doom and gloom about how dangerous everything is these days. Growing up in the 70s with 5 brothers, minibikes that didn’t work, dozens of shoddily pieced together bikes, no helmets, piles of scrap lumber to make ramps and shoddily built tree forts, and very little direct supervision in the summer, its a wonder I made it through childhood at all! I couldn’t agree more with your assessment! Everybody breathe!!!

  40. aupair says:

    I’m overprotective, and I’m completely fine with it. I also have a pretty good idea why – the movie about Adam Walsh (which is also why I’m selective about what my children watch on TV – boy it can have an impact). I was probably ten when the movie was on television, and it is one of my most vivid childhood memories. That movie and story has stayed with my always. I also think it’s much easier when they are little – my oldest is eight, and every year older they get, the more the world opens up. No doubt being overprotective has it’s ups and downs, but on the plus side I’ve spent so much great quality time with my girls, compared to my mom who was great at saying “go outside and find someone to play with” and never, ever, being that someone herself. I think we each have to do what is right for us and what we feel is right for our kids. I always try and remember that most parents are doing what they feel is best as well, and respect the differences in parenting styles.

  41. s says:

    My SO still insists on hold his son’s hand when crossing the street. His son is 12.
    Don’t let this happen to you.

  42. Marybeth Findler says:

    Its all about balance… I just dont want to be a statistic.

  43. jzzy55 says:

    Our new next door neighbors follow the “we don’t want to be one of the 125 abductions” line of defense. Their three children (7, 7 and 10) are never outside without an adult standing guard on the sidewalk watching their movements. They never go farther than one house away on their bikes. When they were dropped off at the corner of our block the other day, the family van paced them up the block (about 30 yards). My husband watched in amazement and some dismay. Meanwhile our son used to play by himself or with a friend or two in the woods behind our house, digging rocks out of the streams, finding red efts, hunting for treasure, climbing on downed trees, etc. We live in an out of town subdivision in a small city that has never seen any child abduction and has very little random crime.
    But I guess they would rather have neurotic children who have no freedom than free children who have been, however slightly, at risk.

  44. Mschu says:

    You know, I will protect my children however I see it fit. Sure eventually they will need to spread their wings and fly a bit but I will save that til I know they can make good choices on their own. For now…I will spend my time as a bit of a helicopter, and not be shameful of it. I don’t want to be a statistic either. And I love these children more than anything else in the world. It is my job to teach them safety, mirror what I speak of, and watch over them with a watchful eye from time to time. Protective? Maybe, madly in love with them? Of course. They will soon be away from the nest on their own…so it starts with me keeping them the safest they can be so they can grow into the little wonderful well rounded people I know they will be.

  45. smartypantzed says:

    My latest blog post. You will certainly know where I stand on the issue after reading it…if the title doesn’t give it away completely. Advice to Helicopter Parents- Stop Pissing Me Off http://wp.me/p103hg-8a

  46. Anonymous says:

    Most of the comments made here are regarding the physical “going outside” or “riding bikes” helicopter scenarios, but where I work, we have opportunities for Boy Scouts to fulfill their Life Project or Eagle Scout Project. Too many times, there is Mom completely taking over the project, getting the materials, contacting the other participants, writing the necessary correspondence. The point of these projects is for the young person to organize a project and successfully see to its completion. Nowadays it is no longer their project, it is the mother’s project. It is so distasteful to me to see this happening. It totally defeats the purpose of the project – to learn responsibility and independence. It is even so bad that I have seen an instance where the mother used her own son’s e-mail accounts to write correspondence, even signing the son’s names to a letter that could not possibly have been written by the young man. Sad.

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