Would you rather protect kids too much, or too little?

A psychologist appearing on Midmorning today argues that parents try too hard to shield their children from misfortune. She says that overprotected children are underprepared for life. Today’s Question: Would you rather protect kids too much, or too little?

  • John

    Over protecting and shielding children from realities of life does them no good.

    The mentality that everyone is a winner is just wrong. There is nothing wrong with building self confidence but if it is false confidence built on a platform of nothing, it is just that, nothing.

    Its like Homeland Security, a waste of time and money.

  • JC

    Kids need the opportunity to succeed or fail in safe doses–you learn more from adversity than easy wins. Programs like Scouting give kids the opportunity to find their way in the world outside the classroom.

  • Zeke

    My generations parent’s used to let us out of the house early and run like a pack of wolves till dinner time. Then after dinner it was back outside until dark/bedtime.Don’t see much of that now days. Yes we sometimes injured ourselves, snuck smokes, cussed and looked at girly magazines. Although as I look back I am grateful for the freedom from excessive parenting that my parent’s generation allowed us. It certainly helped to shape who we are to day.

  • Mia

    I can say that the effects of being an overbearing parent are more often than not quite negative. Children of such parents tend to be lazy, moody, lacking in initiative an creativity. Such results lead me to believe that the stereotype has less to do with the well-being of children than with the egos of their parents. Has anyone else here seen the minivans with the entire back-windshield covered in “my kid does this sport” stickers?

  • uptownZombie

    Zeke hit it on the head. I grew up in the Bay Area (San Francisco and Berkeley) and from a young age I was using the BART system to go all over with friends, or by myself, and have all sorts of fun. Sometimes we were lighting off fireworks next to a police station, sometimes we were hiking in the woods, sometimes we’d push out on surfboards deep into the bay, and I’m still here and better because of it all. Yes, there were the occasional weirdos that happened along, one even tried to snatch me, but all in all I wouldn’t change it for anything, and I plan on raising my kids the same way: free. So I guess I would rather protect kids too little because you shouldn’t shield people from reality, it will only make them a poor adult.

    anyone feel like biking out to the park and lighting something on fire? I hear there’s a box of magazines there.

  • Eiolgj

    There’s a saying: Parents need to give their children roots and wings. Give them the basic skills and education and then send them out to make their own paths. I know home schooling families where the kids are still living at home and they are in their 30’s. That’s roots, but not wings.

  • Home schooling is protecting kids too much.

    Look at how a lot (not all) of those kids turn out.

    Enough said.

  • Steve the Cynic

    “She says that overprotected children are underprepared for life.”

    Well, duh! It’s sad commentary that we need an “expert” to tell us something that should be obvious.

  • Chris

    I am not even sure where to start with this question. In a day when children seem to be running amuck & the consensus seems to be that parents are trying too hard to their children’s friends instead of their parents. This question is too subjective. As a parent I protect my child by setting rules & boundaries. I do not take my small children to rated R movies. I do not send my daughter outside unsupervised.

    Other comments posted say that their parents let them run wild as did mine, but times were different. The “village” was still functioning. If the line was crossed kids were disciplined. Today the “village” has been burned to the ground. Discipline what is that?

    Define what being under protective is. Being an under protected child to me is having a parent who lets you put yourself in danger on a regular basis. Not being disciplined when you have committed vandalism, skipped school, or been caught smoking or drinking. How many young people enter the “adult” world & are feet first in trouble because their parents protected them from the consequences of their behaviors.

    Over protective is a problem as well. Hovering over your every child’s movement makes them nuts, dictating every second of their day for their own good will create a ticking time bomb.

    Children need space to make their own triumphs and failures so they can grow to know right from wrong. If a child is left to run like a pack of wolves they may very well end up being the wolf. If a child has the ability to make mistakes in a situation that isn’t possibly life & death they will learn & grow into stable adults.

  • Jim G

    To little…The best teacher is learning through personal experience. Your perceived failure actually is just learning what doesn’t work. Try something different next time and it is only a step to successful living. Yes, I almost killed myself a couple of times, but I learned not to put that tack on the pretty girls chair.

  • Sue de Nim

    Both extremes are equally bad.

  • lucy

    Between middle school and high school there is a separation. Luckily, mine was gradual and less abrupt from having my little buddy turn into a man-boy.

    Boys need their space. Hopefully by this point you have given them enough guidance that they will be able to navigate through the roughest pavement.

    Being part of a group is important for some. Lke Jim G and a few others said, let them run with the pack. They will figure out what works and what doesn’t.

    Now for young gilrs…I have no idea. The lesson of the day seems to be passive aggressive and seek revenge at all costs.

    If there is something to fear it is in the teaching of ‘attitude’ and ‘manipulation’ that comes from watching their mothers? older sisters? aunts? I would be more concerned about the underhandedness being taught to the younger girls.

  • lucy

    Between middle school and high school there is a separation. Luckily, mine was gradual and less abrupt from having my little buddy turn into a man-boy.

    Boys need their space. Hopefully by this point you have given them enough guidance that they will be able to navigate through the roughest pavement.

    Being part of a group is important for some. Lke Jim G and a few others said, let them run with the pack. They will figure out what works and what doesn’t.

    Now for young gilrs…I have no idea. The lesson of the day seems to be passive aggressive and seek revenge at all costs.

    If there is something to fear it is in the teaching of ‘attitude’ and ‘manipulation’ that comes from watching their mothers? older sisters? aunts? I would be more concerned about the underhandedness being taught to the younger girls.

  • lucy

    Between middle school and high school there is a separation. Luckily, mine was gradual and less abrupt from having my little buddy turn into a man-boy.

    Boys need their space. Hopefully by this point you have given them enough guidance that they will be able to navigate through the roughest pavement.

    Being part of a group is important for some. Lke Jim G and a few others said, let them run with the pack. They will figure out what works and what doesn’t.

    Now for young gilrs…I have no idea. The lesson of the day seems to be passive aggressive and seek revenge at all costs.

    If there is something to fear it is in the teaching of ‘attitude’ and ‘manipulation’ that comes from watching their mothers? older sisters? aunts? I would be more concerned about the underhandedness being taught to the younger girls.

  • regina

    Blaming parents for our personal problems is an american cultural rait. I grew up and lived in many different countries and only heard it from americans. Most of the world believe that parents did the best they could under their circunstances. Why is that?t

  • lucy

    //Most of the world believe that parents did the best they could under their circunstances. Why is that?

    I agree with you when the direction comes from an earnest point of view. Children look to adults for guidance and direction so what they see their parents/sisters/role models doing they assume is appropriate behavior.

    And about those ‘other’ cultures who do not look to how they were raised for behavior dysfunction. To me, that is the old school , so called “honor” teaching of sweeping the problems under the rug rather than correcting the behavior. This is how poor parenting gets handed down through generations.

    Thank God, god for ECFE!

  • Lisa Gower

    I think the last caller had very useful insights. However, let’s please be cognisant of who the listening audience is for this programme: well-educated, middle-class types. Children in these families have available to them opportunities that others do not, and the argument is that they may have too many opportunities handed to them. While I believe this to be true, please be aware that for other children, summer and extra-curricular activities are extremely important, as similar opportunities are not available within the home. Every Monday morning I make a point of asking my students what they did on the weekend, and invariably most of them will say “nothing” (even when probed with further questioning), or “I played computer games.” They are not reading, interacting with others, or getting physical exercise: they are sitting and staring. Let’s please not make blanket statements that all mediated activities are a bad idea.

  • Cindy

    I spent my childhood summers playing unsupervised with the only “plan” being vacation bible school and/or a 1 or 2 week scout camp and that only lasted until I was around 14. We were let out the backdoor and I don’t think anyone knew much of what we were doing. After age 14 I was expected to find a part-time job. I didn’t want my kids to share my childhood experience. I became the parent who over-planned my eldest daughter’s time, including summers. She had amazing opportunities and experiences all the way thru HS. Because my kids are 8 years apart by the time my 2nd one was school age my eldest one was in the later years of HS. I had a better idea of the ramifications of my 1st parenting style. I decided to parent our 2nd child more the way I was parented. We had minimal plans and 1 week of scout camp. We stayed in the neighborhood. As a result our 2nd child had lemonade and “art” stands, she rounded up neighborhood kids to make blanket tents in the yard,rode her bike and she spent a lot of time at the neighborhood park. How has it turned out now? Our eldest is struggling to be her own adult and it’s painful for all of us. While our 2nd child made it clear she was pulling away in her teenage years (normal – right?) and my husband and I have a calm, peaceful, respectful and fun adult relationship with her and her husband.

    I learned kids need to be kids.

  • Karen S.

    This is a fatuous question. The suggestion that it is an either/or situation – either too much or too little protection for children – is specious. Given the discussion on MPR this morning, I agree that children do not get enough exposure to the full range of emotional and psychological experiences in life, due to over-protective parenting. Joy has little meaning without sorrow, pleasure little value without boredom. But there is a larger question we need to answer: Why are we so afraid of our downtimes, our “dark” feelings? Read Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Bright-sided” for a thorough examination of how we as adults, not just parents, refuse to allow for the sad or unhappy times in life.

  • Carrie

    Neither. Why is this an either or question anyway?

  • lucy

    Good point Karen.

    Education through suffering.

  • James

    What kind of a Libtard question is that?

    DTOM

  • Steve the Cynic

    What kind of person uses a word like Libtard?

  • A. Ferrey

    Who said Libtard anyway? Why? In what context? What did they REALLY mean?

    A second hasty scan of the day’s wisdom has failed to locate the word….

    Too sophicticated for the Bachmann/Palin crowd, Rule out the T=partiers….

    Has possibilities, doesn’t it? And will lead to further enrichment of our living language, with such terms as “Contard”…

  • Steve the Cynic

    @A.Ferrey

    It was DTOM James less than half an hour before I wrote. And I certainly hope words like that don’t catch on. I presume it was meant to be a portmanteau of “liberal” and and the highly offensive slur, “retard,” iimplying that liberals are developmentally disabled. It’s apparently intended as an insult. “Contard” would be no better. I sincerely hope you were being sarcastic when you suggested such terms might “enrich” the language.

  • Raul

    MN is a nanny state..we all know that. Michelle Obama pushes for the same over reaching federal controls upon parents. Should we believe as parents, that the federal government knows how best to teach, to feed to care for our kids?

    California and a few other states allow schools to force feed our children on the so called merits of GLBT life styles. Curriculum exposes the greatness of Islam and the Quran while they ignore the facts of the middle eastern muslim views that killing gays is rightious and stoning adulterers to death is good. Protecting our children should include NOT using liberal propaganda to brainwash our children in schools.

    Adolph Hitler once said, ” give me the youth, control the education, and we will control the nation within ten years.” When he took office, he replaced pictures of Jesus in churches and schools with HIS image. Then he started the camps.

    Protecting children with labor laws, locking up pedophiles and not importing poisonous lead based toys from China is reasonable as a protective function of the government. beyond that, the government has no business ; as according to the US Constitution.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Calm down, Raul. Not everything is a liberal conspiracy.

  • CF

    Back in the “Good Ole Days”, kids didn’t wear bike helmets, they got sunburn and we didn’t worry about lead paint. Kids rode in station wagons w/o seat belts and their parents smoked in the car and in the house. Kids played outdoors after dark, walked to schrool and rode their bicycles to the park. Somehow by a miracle we survived to reach adulthood in spite of these great perils and dangers. Moral of the story is, life is dangerous business. Deal with it. If I had kids and they wanted to wear a dorky-looking bike helmet, then fine. But I wouldn’t make them wear one.

  • Jim Shapiro

    I would rather have questions raised in a somewhat rational manner.( Is there a small child ghostwriting for you on this one Eric?)

  • KC

    I am an over protective parent! How do I reverse the effects that I have unintentionally imposed on my children? How do I keep them safe and let them go out on their own?

    I have a 10 year old daughter and 5 year old son.

  • Jason

    I think it should be a measured amount of both, depending on the child.

    The introverted, tentative child needs to be taught survival skills, what to expect, and how to stand up to situations. The aggressive, reckless child needs to be restrained and shown the consequences of not being cautious enough.

    Unfortunately I was the former, and my parents did very little to prepare me for the world. As a result I had a great childhood, but a frustratingly difficult adulthood. The amount and type of nurturing needs to be balanced for each individual personality.

    But if I ever have kids I will make sure they don’t go out into the world with Pollyanna eyes.

  • Carl

    @ CF

    That tired cliche of “good ole days” makes for a folksy soundbite, but not much else. “We” are still here precisely because we are the ones who “survived”; the ones who didn’t make it might have a different opinion. Safety habits evolve out of statistics that show serious injuries and even death are reduced with certain behaviors, like wearing a helmet.

    I hate bike helmets, but I started wearing one after a bad fall from my bike. I know I look “dorky” – that’s what I hate about it. But I’ll take the look of a helmethead over the look of my head cracked open.

  • CF

    “Lies, damned lies and statistics” –Mark Twain

    I don’t believe in statistics as Carl mentioned. Life is too complex to be defined by mere numbers. Statistics don’t say anything at all really. For example, if you asked a group of people if they smoked and they all happened to be smokers, then statistically everybody smokes! And so likewise statistics can’t make children, (or adults), safer. It’s only a scare tactic perpetuated by the fear mongers in our society.

  • Steve the Cynic

    CF, that kind of evidence denial is what’s driving the country into the ditch.

  • Carl

    CF,

    I get your dismissive attitude. Many special interest groups use what they call “statistics” as a way to bend an argument in their favor. Your smoker question with the faulty conclusion would be a good example. When I say “statistics” I am referring only to a true and sound statistical study.

    A poll is not what I would consider to be a statistic. If you ask only bicyclists who wear helmets if they think that they are safer, and the majority say yes, it would be an incorrect conclusion to say that helmets make you safer. If you actually looked at the statistics of head injuries and helmet use, all else being equal, that would be a better gauge of safety.