Neglect, not helicopter parenting, damages kids
Hello, my name is Emma Jane and I am A Very Bad Mother. Not because I neglect my four-year-old daughter – but apparently because I don’t neglect her enough.
If you have offspring, you’ll know that being called a “helicopter parent” is the insult du decade.
It implies that you hover over your kids like a whopping great Black Hawk, and has been blamed for everything from childhood obesity to weird new European balloon laws.
“Helicopter parents, rejoice,” The Huffington Post posted huffily last week. “A new European safety directive has banned children under the age of eight from blowing up balloons without supervision. Because they could swallow them and choke.”
In addition to depriving children of the joys of inflating coloured latex, overparenting allegedly produces ankle biters who have never been left alone long enough to experience the advantages of misadventure, failure and misery.
In her 2010 book Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday?, America mother-of-six Laura Bennett argues in favour of a retro approach: “Things have just gotten so crazy and out of hand, with helmets and seatbelts and what they eat and what preservatives are in there…”
Well. While seatbelt laws and nut-free child care centres might seem wacky and new-fangled, they’re not political correctness run amok but reflect real-life research that has given us real-life information about how to keep more kids more alive for longer.
And while it’s easy to ridicule laws such as the European balloon ban, it’s also worth noting that at least 68 US kids died from choking on balloons between 1990 and 2004.
Clearly someone needs to keep an eye on the small people. And if you’d rather it wasn’t the nanny state, then how about laying off those of us who are prepared to take up the slack?
I, for one, am coming out of the closet as an unashamed hoverer. What’s more, I refuse to accept that my household requires the urgent intervention of Overparenters Anonymous.
Having a hands-on mum doesn’t mean my child misses out on making her own mistakes. It just means there’s a large person ready to step in if anyone is bullied or at risk of losing an important body part to a “snissors sword” (my daughter’s current weapon of choice).
Despite the massive media coverage given to the alleged overparenting pandemic, all the research shows that it is an excess of disinterest and cruelty – not of engagement and kindness – that really causes kids damage.
Exhibit A is that two-year-old hit-and-run victim from China. If only she’d been surrounded by more helicopters and less willed social blindness.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…