There but for the grace of Mom and Dad go I.
As someone (now 40) who was a well-loved boy raised by the extreme opposite of helicopter parents, this brings tears to my eyes. A childhood can not be given back.
Melissa J says
My words exactly! You only get one childhood, and it is VERY short (since you really only remember age 4 or so onward, and you’re no longer really a kid after 12 or so, if you are lucky to not grow up too soon). It already breaks my heart that my two kids (age 9 and 12) are lonely. I send them out into the neighborhood and the woods, but they are a boy and girl and not too interested in playing with each other. Yet all their peers are always gone to travel sports! And when they are home, they are helicoptered and thus not allowed to roam with my two. In our super-safe, upper-middle-class neighborhood. I wish I could magic up some other free-range kids for them. I’ve been having a slowly growing impact on some of the other parents in my neighborhood (yay) with all my free-range talk, but it’s getting too late at their ages. They’re becoming tweens and teens and those precious years of innocent, wild, free play come to a screeching halt.
Why do you have to assume that it is gender holding your kids back from wanting to play with each other? Do you think you could be placing some harmful stereotypes about what and who they are supposed to like that they have internalized? Maybe they just don’t have chemistry with each other and it is that simple.
There are plenty of people who are very close from the beginning to siblings of a different gender, as well as siblings of the same gender who hate each other.
I hate the word tween actually. I say let kids be kids as long as they can and encourage “tweens” and young teens to be kids.
Julissa Peralta says
So what do we do? How can parents be less afraid ? What are limitations and how do you set them ?
Encourage your young kids and a bunch of friends to go together on “urban adventures” (or rural) with no adults. Have one or two teens go along a few times, but try to lower the average age of the adventurer with each outing, which should involve riding public transit and going to a restaurant or coffee shop, going bowling, etc. My son did these at age nine (with no cell phones, cause learning how to get help if it’s needed is important), and I’m about to organize a new group of kids to do it.
The benefits are twofold: a) people see young kids out without adults having a perfectly safe and fun time, and b) the kids involved gain a WHOLE LOT of confidence, and will likely demand in the future that adults stop treating them like idiots. Spread the idea so that before long everyone knows a kid who goes on urban adventures. This is how change happens.
Donald Christensen says
I really liked that video that you made from Eric’s letter. https://letgrow.org/a-helicoptered-young-man-writes-to-us/
I love to read letters from kids concerning overprotective parents. I’m sure that you have a few similar letters. You’d have also gotten letters from children that are doing Let Gro projects. I’d love to read these. If there are 100 letters, I would like to read each one. I don’t think I’m alone on this.
Will you dedicate a page on your blog for these letters?
“How can parents be less afraid ?”
Good question. The answer isn’t simple. It took a long time for you to be conditioned to become so afraid. It will take a long time to undo this. This is a dilemma. When an emotion bullies us (fear or anger) we want relief NOW. We don’t have the patients for the ‘long time’ that’s required to undo it. Not only the is the duration frustrating but the process is as well. That’s because most of us feel, “I want to see clearly HOW and WHY this will work before I put in the effort. I don’t just want to take someone’s word for it. I may be wasting my time”!
How and why is hard to explain. but it goes something like this. Psychologist Jonathan Haidt introduced a useful analogy for thinking about behaviour change. Haidt argues that we have two sides: an emotional side (the Elephant), and an analytical, rational side (its Rider).
Haidt’s analogy has it that the Rider is rational and can therefore see a path ahead while underneath him, the Elephant provides the power for the journey. However the Elephant is irrational and driven by emotion and instinct.
Daniel Kahneman also touched on this in his book, Thinking Fast and Slow. Steve Peters also explains it in his book, The Chimp Paradox.
OKOKOKOK. I told you it was complicated and frustrating. (not quick) Let’s get back to the elephant and rider analogy. The rider needs to learn how to manage the elephant. The only way to do this is to step out of your comfort zone. This is a mental exercise. This is like lifting weights. Keep pushing your comfort zone and you are increasing the weight that you’re able to lift, can climb more stairs than you could before, or could swim more lengths of the pool than you previously could. As your fitness improves, the elephant becomes more manageable.
There is also another matter. If you believe that the world is a scary place then you’ll seek out all evidence that you can find that will support this view. This is selective bias. Every one of us has a bias. A person can’t shed their bias nor should they try. However, it’s important to understand your bias and take it into consideration when you determine what is real and what is fake.
Remember what I said that a person shouldn’t try to shed their bias? If you adopt the attitude of taking it into consideration when you determine what’s real then lots of your bias will fade away. Keep in mind that it won’t disappear.
How do parents become less afraid?
I’ll add in –
Understand that FEAR is usually False Evidence Appearing Real.
What are we afraid of? The monster in the closet. But, we turn on the light and there’s no monster. We do this repeatedly, but we’re still afraid of the monster in the closet. When you understand that your fear was false, you can begin to overcome the irrationality of it.
We fear being attacked by a shark. But statistically, shark attacks are extremely rare. If you’re swimming in the ocean, you’re actually probably fairly close to a shark. But if you watch Jaws before heading to the beach, your fear is amplified, due to a fictional thing that never happened (false evidence).
As Donald mentioned, you need to use your rational side to understand what the emotional side is doing, and then let your rational side make the decision.
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