I’m Wondering If Our Children Are Too Safe, Part 2

Kid Coddling

In addition to not letting our kids out of our sight, we’ve got other ways of coddling our kids into uselessness.

Putt, Putt, Helicopter Coddling

Helicopter parenting. I don’t think we do this to our kids, but we sure see it. Helicopter parents, if you’re not familiar with the term, are so named because they’re always hovering over their kids. They keep a watchful eye on their offspring from right in the middle of the action, distracting poor Junior and keeping him from actually participating.

Last year at SD’s swimming lessons, there was a boy whose mother never left the walkway along the side of the pool. While other kids were practicing kicks down at one end of the lane, Mom was with her child at the other, chanting a continuous stream of reassurance and encouragement. Fine. By the end of the term, though, all of the kids but one were getting around without their swimmies. Guess who?

Mow It Down Coddling

Even worse is a new phenomenon called lawnmower parenting. “They don’t just hover over their kids — they walk in front of them for everything that may be in the way and cut a clear, smooth path,” a teacher told writer Bryan Greeson of the Gaston Gazette. His response? “More like bulldozing.”

These parents do their kids’ heavy lifting for them in their younger years by building their science projects for them and such. Later on, they argue with college professors over their kids’ grades. Their goal is success for its own sake, but it’s fake — their kids haven’t achieved it. And I’ll guess those kids will wind up feeling like losers later on because, having learned nothing, they can’t maintain their unearned wins.

Safety First, Second, and Third Coddling

We love soft, cushioned playgrounds where we believe nothing will ever go wrong. No injuries, no failure. But, NEWS FLASH: Kids will always figure out a way to defeat our most diligent child-proofing. We really have no choice but to accept that injuries will occur. Researchers are finding that we parents should really let go, and educators and school architects getting the message, beginning to craft facilities that incorporate just a little constructive danger, like this awesome kindergarten in Japan.

Invest in First Aid

Will we ever stop being terrified for our kids? Of course not. But we need to get a grip. It’s never been about us and our comfort zone. It’s all about them and the amazing adults we want them to be. We just have to let them. (And keep plenty of Band-Aids and Neosporin on hand, natch.)


Eyecatcher by Robby Berman