I was just linked to “A nation of wimps” over at Psychology Today and I was extremely underwhelmed. (Shocking, I know.) This wasn’t anywhere near the worst thing I’ve read on their website, but…that’s not exactly a high standard.
The author takes a real phenomenon of parental overprotectiveness that I think is worthy of some discussion and confuses it with real parental concerns and safety improvements that I applaud.
Wanna talk about helicopter parents who call their college students’ teachers to complain about grades? Oh yeah. Worried about crazed parents screaming at Little League coaches when their kid doesn’t play during one game? I think that’s a terrible thing and I’m all for stopping it.
But softer surfaces for kids’ playgrounds? That’s being overprotective? Bike helmets for little kids?!! Dude, if you saw my four-year-old barreling down the fairly steep hill we live on, you’d know why I’m a maniac for helmets. Personally, I don’t think concussions or broken bones build character.
The article touches on grade inflation, kids calling their parents on cell phones all the time, binge drinking (supposedly caused by children who are too controlled at home), playgrounds, commercialization of children’s play, and much more.
I can’t even begin to address all the different unrelated things that are shoved into this article. As I said, there are some legitimate issues here but throwing them all together makes it impossible to have any useful discussion!
And as a Friend of the Blog noted earlier today, it was hard to read all the way to the end, because my brain hollered “First World Problems! First World Problems! Alert alert!” Yes, there are some actual parenting issues here, but boy, I’m really a hell of a lot more worried about poverty and neglect and crumbling schools and infrastructure than I am about overprotective upper middle class moms and dads creating neurotic children.
Of course, in saying that I risk making the error of saying that we can’t address one problem while more serious problems exist in the world. (Y’know how it is: “Why are you complaining about sexism when children are starving in Africa???”)
So I guess here’s the roundup: Helicopter parents making their kids neurotic and unable to take care of themselves is bad. Poverty and neglect and lousy schools are bad. Sensible precautions to keep kids from being unnecessarily injured either physically or emotionally are good.
Got it? Good.