Announcing: The Golden Helicopter Parent Awards
Do you think kids these days are coddled? Do you think that in the interest of keeping kids safe, we have created a culture of overprotection? Do you think that we have to allow our kids the freedom to fail and to be hurt in order for them to be independent?
Lenore Skenazy does, and she collects stories from all over North America that will convince you that we are shielding our kids from harm in totally inappropriate ways. She is the founder of Free Range Kids and has been a tireless advocate for kids' independence. recently, she announced the "2010 Golden Helicopter Awards: For great moments in over-prenting and media fear-mongering about kids". I have picked some of my favourite examples:
But It’s Still Less Creepy than “J. Edgar Barbie”: With Christmas gearing up, the FBI warned that “Video Barbie” could be used by child pornographers — even though, so far, it has never, ever seen this happen. This didn’t stop the news media from showing how Barbie could easily be used to videotape from the corner of a girl’s bedroom or even under her skirt. Daily Show's take on it.
What Exciting New Career Beckons If You Live Alone with Your Cats and Talk to Your Toothbrush? Just how fragile are today’s kids? Schools have started hiring “friendship coaches” to discourage students from having best friends, because when they do, someone could feel left out. (Like…a Friendship Coach?)
And the Buns Give You Cancer: Dr. Gary Smith of the American Academy of Pediatrics urged that hotdogs be “re-designed” because, of the 20,000,000,000 hotdogs eaten annually, about 10 kids choke on them. That’s one death per 200 million franks. Smoothies! Get yer hotdog smoothies!
This Goes Double When Playing the “Flute” A new video from the musicians union in Britain instructs music teachers, “Don’t touch pupil’s fingers’ when giving lessons,” because anytime any adult touches a kid it’s practically molesting, right? What a great way to think of ALL child/adult interactions.
And Once You Find a Grenade in a Cul de Sac You Take it Home and Have a Tea Party: After a forgotten stuffed animal was spotted on a quiet Orlando street, the nearby school went into lockdown. The bomb squad was summoned. The bomb guys blew up the stuffed animal, which turned out to be…a stuffed animal. But as one resident explained, “Once you see that it’s a stuffed animal, your mind starts racing with all kinds of…crazy stuff.”
Hi Snookums, How Was Your Day? (As If I Didn’t Know): Japanese inventors unveiled a GPS device children wear over their shirts that also takes photos and monitors their heart rate. That way, if their heart rate goes up, parents can take a photo of whatever is scaring their kids.
Here are some signs that it is not all bad:
Why Can’t He Sit in the Back of an SUV and Sulk Like a Normal Kid? After initially saying no, a school board reluctantly reversed itself and allowed a boy to ride his bike to school.
The Nerve! Two Canadian fifth graders gathered 250 names on their petition to be allowed to play with balls during recess.
Not the “Predator Picnic” The Media Promised It Would Be? Children made new friends and played without being dragged off and killed, during first annual “Take Our Children to the Park…and Leave Them There Day” — despite rampant fear-mongering in the press: (And follow-up comments.)
Somehow We Missed This on Nancy Grace: A massive federal study found all child abuse down by a stunning 26% from 1993-2006, and child sex abuse down even more—38%!
Skenazy says that she wants to return to a time when commonsense parenting prevailed instead of a culture of overprotection perpetuated with a media that is consumed by finding childhood dangerous.
What do you think? Can you add to the list of examples of overparenting? Do you sometimes fall into the trap of being a helicopter parent? (I know I do)
Want more? Last year I was already thinking about the morning routine and how to stop my son from being late everyday.