Helicopter parents

When David Kendall was growing up in Melbourne, he would leave home in the morning to play with his brothers and friends, riding his bike, yabbying, or sneaking into cinemas, with the only requirement to be back in time for tea.

It's a familiar story for most who grew up in a time before computers, and a study of 1000 households, commissioned by a power tool company, has found only a third of children today are allowed to leave their property unsupervised, verses 90 per cent of their parents. 

Time spent outdoors is also right down, with half of the parents surveyed spending over three hours a day playing outdoors as children. Now less than 15 per cent of their kids do.

Only the other day I read a blog that was advising parents to watch their children 24/7 and only let them play in your sight (not even in their bedroom alone as children can't be "trusted"). The blogger suggested this was complete necessary well into the teenage years as you never know what they might get up to - danger all around.  I couldn't agree with this at all.  If you don't like living in a prison, why would your children. 

I spent my childhood on a farm, I roamed the hills from sun-up to sun-down, returning for meals and chores. I, like many other children of my generation, had so much freedom and we rarely got into any major trouble. However, very sadly, the modern parent hooves over their child with the greatest of fear and concern that "something" might happen.  A fear that has been generated by the media, by the internet, by Facebook, by bloggers and in our own heads . . . a fear that isn't really there and no greater than it was for my own parents when I was growing up. We are over-nurturing (mollycoddling) our children.

It is a dangerous (and very modern) precedences and one that will create adults that haven't been taught independence's.  Parents now drive their children everywhere, they organise their activities, they buy them toys so they can play indoors, whereas once children would play for hours outside without their parents constantly checking on them. 

Whilst we would like to constantly watch over our children as they are so precious, we do need to let them grow up and be allow to learn independence's, trust and be about to think on their own.  And that means not constantly having mum or dad nearby.

If you look back through history children were not constantly hovered over, they learn independence's from a very early age, they had to, it wasn't about choice. They learnt resilience, self-confidences, survival skills and many were out working at a very tender age (not that I am recommending this).  We are creating a society of over indulged children/adults and that is never good or healthy.  We are keeping our children as "babies" way longer than at any other time in history, just look at the number of adults that are living at home well into their 20s when they should be out living independently, working hard earning a living and being able to manage their lives without the constant need of parents (how many mums are still do their children's washing?).  James Cook (born 1728), the British explorer who put Australia on the map, joined the merchant navy as a teenager, no one ever dreamed of smothering children in those days . . . we should not either. 

Whilst we need to keep our children safe, set rules and guidelines for them to obey, we must not mollycoddling them. They need room to move and grow, build confidences, have their own friends (their own age) which they can visit, they need their own time away from adults to dream, they need to be able to do things on their own. They will make mistakes, it will cause you to worry, but that is what parents use to do once a upon-a-time and we all survived.  Parents picked up the pieces and allowed their children to try again.  Many mistakes were made, but that is how we learnt. 

Modern parents need to dis-enagage a little and not constantly hoover over their children.  We are over-parenting compared to parents in the past and I hate think of the types of adults we are bringing up. 


  1. I love the times when my children go out the back door and I can just keep an ear out! They have to play without me out there!
    Even inside I am certainly not watching them all the time - an ear open yes - but that still gives them plenty of room to have fun without a parent's eagle eye on them.
    I must admit I am more cautious outside of our property, but as they grow they will be taught how to look out for themselves.
    Being paranoid about children even inside sounds ridiculous! If we can't trust them, I want to know - what have we done wrong in our teaching them right from wrong?
    Monitoring your children can not be an excuse for not disciplining children or teaching them about their bodies in a way that makes things awkward.

    1. I am glad I am not alone on this one. To think how my parents brought me up, they were no way near as fearful compared to the modern parents and my parents went through a terrible war, they knew what fear was. It took me some time to relax when my sons when out as teenagers, but then I realised that I had to lean on the Lord and trust Him - being paranoid is so unhealthy and unGoldly.

      In places like China, this has become so bad the children are called "cotton wool babies" - imagine a race of adults that have been so "protected" as children - its scary to think of the consequences.

      And mothers need time on their own - we should never hand over our lives completely to our children and not have a breather.



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