“The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of ‘liberalism’ they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened.”

Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Doting parents do more harm than good

I just read an article about an Australian study that shows that playground injuries have not abated one bit since we began installing these boring, idiotic injury-proof jungle-gyms. It seems that kids take far more risks in pursuit of fun because the playground equipment is so boring when used as intended.

This brings up the question of are we protecting our kids too much? You see hysterical soccer moms ever day running around with hand sanitizer, long-sleeved swim suits, sports with no scoring, to name a few over-protective things. You've seen them too: people who won't touch anything in a restroom. They squat over the toilet, spraying urine everywhere, they turn on the faucet with their elbows, and the worst of all, open the bathroom door with their nasty, disgusting feet...leaving the facilities far more disgusting for the next person.

Not only are we protecting our kids from each and every skinned knee and sniffle-causing germ, we're preventing them from the very valuable life tool called fear. Our kids are so looked after and doted on, they never learn that running too fast down the street might cause them to fall and skin a knee or elbow because they aren't allowed to run. They never learn that hard work and perserverance are appropriate sources of self esteem because they are never allowed to fail at anything because parents prevent them from experiencing ANY form of discomfort or disappointment. Their immune systems are as fragile as hot-house orchids because mom cleans them constantly with sanitizer and they see her frenzied anti-germ hysteria every time they leave the house.

I grew up before helmets, pads, and hand sanitizer. I got hurt riding my bike, playing ball, running around the neighborhood, and I got sick from time to time. I learned quickly where my limitations were and what was OK to attempt and what was not worth the risk. My mom gave me general safety guidelines but she knew that I would learn those things the hard way and she let me go.

Certainly we should take measures to prevent head injuries and extreme infections, but you have to let kids learn that the world is a dangerous place and they have to be vigilant and careful. How will they learn those lessons if they never skin a knee or have a sniffle?


paula said...

Ed, just because you managed to exit childhood relatively unharmed is not evidence that childhood is basically safe. You just got lucky.

Anonymous said...


I agree with you. Some parents today are way too over-protective of their kids.

Yes, there are bad people and dangers in this world, but not allowing children to experience a small sample of those dangers is detrimental to growing up as an adult.

My wife's dad refused to let her ride the bus to school because he didn't trust anybody outside of the family. She's still pissed at him for not letting her fall on her face and take risks growing up.

When I got cut as a child, my mom gave me a bandaid-not knee pads,helmet and grounding in my room for a week to keep me from being hurt.