As a blogger for Today’s Parent, it’s safe to say I read a lot of parenting magazines, personal blogs and books. I have news alerts set up on my laptop to let me know what’s making headlines in the parenting world. I essentially live and breath parenting. Most of the news comes from actual parenting resources themselves, so it’s surprising when what is typically only a hot button topic in the parenting world makes mainstream headlines—which is what happened this week when helicopter parenting appeared in both Esquire and The Onion.
In “The Kids Are Not All Right” Esquire’s James Joiner mourns the loss of childhoods full of rough and tumble play and predicts that this generation of kids will end up “sad, pale, bloated wimps.”
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“Our control freak quest to provide the perfect childhood and produce the perfect child is backfiring. Or worse: It is just making our kids hurt themselves. Take a look in any elementary school classroom. These children are immaculate. Shining, as though freshly popped from a blister pack and dipped in disinfectant before being put on display, glowing with the sort of translucence associated with blind, cave-dwelling salamanders. Except they don’t live in a cave. It’s just that the only glow they’re ever allowed to bask in is the cold blue one given off by a screen.”
Joiner cites many of the same studies I’ve read about the increased diagnoses of ADHD, diabetes, obesity and nature deficit disorder. Based on stats alone, it does look like a bleak future for today’s kids.
Some days I share Joiner’s alarm, like when I go to the playground with my kids and it’s deserted, or when I volunteer at the school and see kids scolded for fidgeting when the problem isn’t ADHD but lack of physical activity. Or, like Joiner, I simply get lost in the same sensational headlines. It’s hard not to.
But you know what? I think, despite all the hand-wringing, our kids will be OK. While Joiner writes parenting bloggers off as the culprits in our kids’ failure to launch, I believe that it’s bloggers who inspire each other to try new things. My social feed isn’t full of dirty-kneed kids because my friends need controversial blog fodder to get moving (like Joiner suggests), but because that’s the way we actually parent. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t read about kids breaking bones, quitting sports, getting sunburns or flunking tests—and the parents being A-OK with the less than perfect upbringing of their kids. And personally, I love knowing I’m not alone in raising kids who won’t always be clean or always succeed.
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So, join me in making a pact that we’ll stop freaking out that our kids will grow up to be unhealthy brats (which is the predicted outcome for the offspring of helicopter parents). We’re all doing the best we can which, in my books, is awesome.
Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children. Read more Run-at-home mom posts or follow her @JenPinarski.