a walk in the park


The science is in. And I’m not talking about climate change.

I’m talking about over-protective parenting—which, as it turns out,  isn’t good for the kids, although some surveys say that the parents are happier.

According to Jennifer Senior, author of All Joy and No Fun, physical abuse, sexual abuse and abductions have all declined by over 50% in the last twenty years. This may actually be the safest time to raise your kids in decades. Meanwhile, authorities are picking up kids for doing really dangerous things, like walking home from the park without adult supervision.

The evidence seems to indicate over-parenting may be more dangerous. Excessive praise is turning kids narcissistic; over protective parenting leaves college student depressed and medicated. There are studies to prove this. It goes on and on: Kids with over active parents are more likely to be bullied, overweight and allergic to common foods.

In an essay about all this, Ross Pomeroy cites Diana Baumrind, a leading development psychologist. Her conclusion: don’t shower them with praise and don’t hem them in with excessive restrictions. The best parents strike a balance between discipline and autonomy, she says.

I say so too. We let our children fly internationally by themselves in high school, but by the time we did this we had let them walk home alone from a lot of parks, metaphorically speaking.  You can’t teach them responsibility and independence after they leave home.

Walking home may well be a risk worth taking.


Are you a helicopter parent?  10 telltale signs

What’s wrong with rewards?  Parenting in an age of incentives

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