It is a different world … or is it?

scared boy, boy in woods, boy aloneGone are the days of, “Hey, Mom, I’ll be back later.” “O.K. Come home when the street lights go on.” Now, it is “Mom, what do I have today?” “A playdate, soccer and ballet. Don’t forget your phone so we can be in constant contact.”

I often argue today’s kids are worse off because of us helicopter parents, even when we try to hover at a distance. They lack self-motivation, have incredibly short attention spans and their lack of independence is shocking. And, selfishly, while I love caring for my kids, being their chauffeur is not a job for which I signed up.

The counter argument is always the same. The world is a different place. You can’t just let your kids play in the street anymore. It is an unsafe world.

I did some research to determine if this is true and this is what I came up with.

– According to FBI reports and other such official organizations, the number of missing children has declined since the 80s.

The number of children kidnapped by strangers (this is why we drive them everywhere, right?) is relatively steady at about 100/year. To put this in perspective, there are about 75 million kids in the U.S. I’m not great with numbers, but I think this gives each child a 0.00000133 chance of being abducted. This is about the same odds as being struck by lightening. Now, while I know you don’t let your kids play outside in thunderstorms, you also don’t monitor their every move for fear it might happen.

What about if they get hit by a car? That could happen, (and does happen so slow your SUV down) but the rate of kids being hit by cars seems to have declined. The studies I found aren’t great, so if you know more, please let me know. Of course, this could be due to the lack of kids actually walking anywhere.

I am not saying the world is a safe place. The world is and always has been a dangerous place. BUT … it does not seem any more dangerous than it was when we were kids.

Let’s face it. Compared to our folks, we are loony bunch. We are over-involved. Our kids are over-scheduled. Everyone is over-anxious. (Luckily, I still know how to be over-served;) Let’s stop blaming child predators for our need to monitor and control our kids’ every move and start owning our own insanity. There, doesn’t that feel better. Now, you only have to be afraid of yourself!

In respect to Independence Day and a country that proudly claims “liberty and justice for all“, let’s make a concerted effort to ground the helicopters once in a while!

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.


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