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“Helicopter parents”

You’ve met “free-range kids”. Now meet their nemesis: “Helicopter parents”.

It begins innocently enough. When our children are infants and toddlers, they need us to protect them at every turn. Babies are just walking (or crawling) catastrophes, and danger lurks in and around every corner. Parents are trained to worry about their children even as they sleep: Don’t put your child on his stomach or he could die of SIDS! Don’t sleep with your child in your bed, or they could be smothered! and eat: Don’t feed your child anything before 6 months of age! Don’t give your toddler grapes! Or hot dogs! Or popcorn! and play: Have you anchored all your furniture? Can that toy become a choking hazard? Is that covered in lead paint?

But the truth of the matter is the anxiety-inducing messages begin before the child is even born: Don’t eat soft cheeses! Don’t eat tuna! But be sure you eat enough fish! Just not the kind with mercury in it! Don’t drink! Don’t smoke! Don’t take hot baths! Exercise, BUT NOT TOO MUCH!

And the result is that parents in our information age are never without something new to wring their hands about, and are nearly suffocating their children with worry.

See, this is why I read about politics. It’s much less worrisome.

Seriously, author Therese Odell makes a good case for chilling out and letting the kids grow up. Which I hope is what Tiffany and I are doing with our girls. At least, I can say I don’t recognize ourselves in the description Odell gives, and that’s reassuring. But kindergarten is looming around the corner for Olivia, so the opportunities to completely decompensate will grow rapidly. I’m hoping this will serve as a reality check for when that happens.

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