A Helicopter Dad Hates “Free-Range Parenting” — Until His Son Gets So Anxious He Has to Try It

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What an honest — and funny! and sad! and exhilarating endorsement of Free-Range Kids by veteran journalist Philip Lerman. His piece appears on the CNN Website:

A HELICOPTER DAD EMBRACES FREE-RANGE PARENTING by Philip Lerman

Two separate events occurred on our family’s beach getaway this summer.

One, my 13-year-old son rode a Jet Ski at 60 miles per hour.

Two, I did not have a heart attack.

Taken separately, neither of these events would be of particular significance. The fact that they occurred simultaneously, however, is a minor miracle.

It’s not that I am one of those neurotic fathers who is constantly living in fear that something terrible will happen to his child.

It is that I am the poster boy for those neurotic fathers. I am the guy who made a 3-year-old wear a bicycle helmet to go on the swings, who hid outside the preschool yard to keep an eye on his kid, the dad who refused to let his son play catcher on the Little League team because oh my God, right, like I’m going to let you stand next to people swinging baseball bats. Kill me first, so I can turn over in my grave just thinking about it.

There’s much talk these days about the concept of free-range parenting — of letting your kids wander free, outside your supervision, the way we did when we were kids. I don’t like the idea of free-range parenting. I’m not even comfortable with the idea of free-range chickens.

As miserable as he was made by his anxiety  (perhaps vastly increased by the fact he was co-executive producer of John Walsh’s “America’s Most Wanted” and co-authored Walsh’s book, “Public Enemies”), Lerman was devastated by seeing his fears infecting his beloved son Max:

About two years ago, Max began calling up from the school nurse’s office, complaining about stomachaches and begging to come home. The situation got worse: Morning after morning he’d be curled up in a ball on the couch, unable to go to school, barely able to speak.

He missed 20 days of school that spring before we figured out what was going on. Max was diagnosed with a severe anxiety disorder. His fears had broken through the emotional-physical barrier: they were literally making him sick. Almost overnight, our fun-loving, outspoken, cheerful, full-of-life boy was under siege by a dark force that attacked, almost daily and without warning.

As time went on, the bouts of anxiety became less frequent. But they became no less severe. And to be perfectly honest — and selfish — they were as hard on me as they were on him. His anxiety attacks sent an electric, icy fear through every nerve in my body, a fear that held me in its steely grip, a grip that I was certain would stay with me all the days of my life. And of his.

With the help of some medication and cognitive behavioral therapy (nb: my family has used both!), Max’s anxiety greatly abated.  And so, concludes Lerman:

I learned, for his sake, it’s time to let…go.

And the funniest thing has started happening. Max’s anxiety seems to be dissipating even further. What’s surprising is my anxiety seems to be dissipating, too.

This is not so surprising to me.  I have seen this phenom over and over again on my TV show and also through the Free-Range Kids Project schools are doing, whereby they ask the parents to let their kids do ONE THING on their own (walk the dog, make dinner, take a bus), and both generations end up delighted by how simple and normal this turns out to be. In fact, parents are hardwired to be deliriously proud of their kids when their kids surprise them with their competency. As I sometimes ask parents at my lectures: “At what moment did you feel proudest of your kid?”

It’s usually when the child did something on his or her own. A good deed, a difficult task, or something brave.

So kudos to Lerman for being brave, too, and taking a step back for his son’s sake. Here’s to the spread of sanity and joy as we realize how helicoptering our kids does not give us peace of mind. Quite the opposite. – L.

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Anxiety is no fun. (And this is not Philip Lerman.)

Anxiety is no fun. (And this is not Philip Lerman.)

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35 Responses to A Helicopter Dad Hates “Free-Range Parenting” — Until His Son Gets So Anxious He Has to Try It

  1. Warren October 8, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    This is great. This is also proof of how fear mongering people like John Walsh can infect our society. I have always said John Walsh is the worst thing that happened to parents in the last fifty years. He is a virus that needs to go.

  2. Scott October 8, 2015 at 2:15 pm #

    A great day for FRP!

    Let’s shout this from the rooftops.

  3. Papilio October 8, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

    HA!

    Though I feel sorry for the kid that he had to go through this first…

  4. Havva October 8, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    This is what is going to make free-range win the day. The fact that catastrophizing everything is really bad for the kids.

    My favorite quote from the article
    “Inside, I was thinking: Oy gevalt.
    Outside, I said: You’ll be OK. Get up. Give it another try.”

    I had to learn that lesson too. When my daughter was learning to walk I was going nuts with worry. I was gasping and squeaking with every wobble. And when she fell (which happened a lot) we both lost it completely. She would scream and thrash inconsolably. Then it occurred to me that she might only be getting upset because I was upset. So I stopped saying “Oh, no!” and running to her, and fussing over her, stopped watching, and started saying (with my back firmly turned) “Can you reach your Paci?” In very short order, she stopped getting upset about falls, and just stuck her paci back in and sucked firmly. She also quit falling so often. It was my fears, not hers that were terrifying her. And when I realized that, and protected her from my fearful reactions, she became a much more calm person, and I did too.

    When she was 2 we found out just how calm a person she could be. She got a face wound that ultimately required 4 stitches. After I examined her, and steadied myself I and forced myself to look her in the eye and to tell her *calmly* that she would be okay, though she would need either glue or stitches (and I pointed to my own scars to show her how that worked out). But that we would take care of it and it would be fine.

    We were both so calm and down to business we surprised a lot of people. Her doctor said she wouldn’t take a 2 year old, to take her to the ER because she would need sedated, possible need anesthesia. The urgent care center, thought I was too calm and told me they couldn’t do stitches after 24 hrs, it had been minutes not hours. But skeptically informed me they did have the required sedation etc, to take a 2 year old. And my daughter… she came out of what had appeared to be a catatonic state with a determined “Okay, we go” and a direct march to the door. She had lunch, colored, and talked to me calmly while we waited. And when it was time for injections, flushing the wound, and finally stitches she laid perfectly still while the doctor worked. She didn’t get sedated, and didn’t need it. She was as stoic as you would expect of most adults (and more so than some). When we went to have the stitches removed the nurse practitioner wanted me and my husband to help a nurse hold our daughter down. But she was so calm on the first stitch, that the nurse left and for stitches 2-4 the nurse practitioner let me just hold my daughter’s hand. Almost 2 years later, we had the nurse practitioner for a check up and she remembered our daughter on sight lauding her as her most amazingly calm stitch removal patient.

    So yeah… there is a lot of power in uttering a convincing “You’ll be okay” even if your first thought is “Oy gevalt!” Calm is the best gift I have ever given my daughter.

  5. sigh October 8, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

    I’m as free-range as they come, I think, but my daughter succumbed to terrible anxiety and phobias when she was between 8-10 years old. She wasn’t afraid of strangers, but she did refuse to go to school, and ended up with emetophobia (fear of vomit).

    CBT for kids, in the form of a set of CDs called “Turnaround,” was the magic bullet for her. Can’t recommend that enough. Thank God those guys developed that program! I was ready to check us both into the funny farm.

    My son struggled with anxiety as well. His was more directly traceable to his dad’s fear-mongering about kidnapping, molestation, and “bad” strangers in general. Good news is, he’s now living away from home at age 14, so he faced his fears, and turned himself around.

    Sometimes kids’ anxieties are directly linked to parent anxieties, sometimes not. But always, always it’s a great idea for parents to look at their own anxious thoughts and behaviours if their kid is suffering with anxiety!

  6. Emily Morris October 8, 2015 at 6:43 pm #

    I think I was raised fairly free-range back in the 90s, and I was a terribly scaredy-cat kid! I do recall my parents more or less telling me to get over a lot of stuff that would be okay. So it’s certainly true that some kids will be terrified and anxious no matter how they are raised, but I think parents even then can still be a guiding light.

  7. Anna October 8, 2015 at 7:25 pm #

    I’m very impressed that the dad was able to acknowledge the cause of his son’s anxiety. Many people would have stayed in denial about it – good for him!

    I was at a playground with a friend and her kids today. We sat at a table in the shade, enjoying coffee and conversation while our sons had the time of their lives all over the playground, including the 18-month-old, who happily toddled around behind the 3-year-olds.

    Meanwhile, the only other mom there trailed her 3-year-old around the ultra-safe play structure for nearly an hour, never more than 5 feet away. I found myself imagining what it must be like to grow up that way. Over time, it seems nearly inevitable that the child would internalize the anxiety and the message he’s constantly being given that he is so incompetent that he can’t even be trusted to engage in even the simplest kind of play on his own.

  8. hineata October 8, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

    @Emily – yes, this. If I let myself, I would be a wobbly jelly on the floor much of the time, and my boy would be the same. Although we were both raised free-range ☺.

    Sometimes you just got to get on with it. It’s only feelings, like this guy is implying. Though I still won’t do scary ridiculous staircases, or mountain switchbacks. ..no thank you never mind ☺☺.

  9. Bronte October 8, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

    I always tell the story of my son and the slide.

    A few years ago when my elder son was 1 3/4 we were visiting my parents for Christmas. One day we went for a walk at the beach, ending up at the playground. My husband walked back to the car while I stayed at the playground.

    While he was gone Son wanted to go on the slide. It looked like it was the same slide that had been in place since I was a kid. It was tall, probably 3m (12ft) at the highest point, and had normal low sides all the way down the side, with high sides at the very top on the platform.

    Son carefully climbed the slide using both hands all the way up. He stood at the top and looked down. Very carefully he turned around and slid down on his belly. He did this a few times gaining in confidence.

    Then Daddy turned up again. Daddy immediately worried about the height of the slide and the apparent ricketyness and did so out loud. Son stopped enjoying the slide and started worrying about going down the slide.

    Daddy and I have an ongoing bicker about his hovering vs. my cavalier (his words) parenting styles. He channels his helicopter mother. I channel my farm-raised tree-climbing mother.

  10. psychology October 9, 2015 at 10:38 am #

    Not very surprising that the Lermans’ anxiety got better when they started to expose themselves to the situations they feared – that’s textbook 🙂

    If you have a spider phobia, you practice being near spiders until the fear drops off. If you get panic attacks, you practice feeling anxiety. If a child has separation anxiety, you practice being away from each other, one step at a time. If you fall off a horse, you get back on at once to prevent fear from developing.

    This is how fear works. It’s a bodily reaction that physically CAN’T run on forever, it CAN’T make you die or “go crazy” or just explode. Eventually, the reaction runs out. So if you practice doing what you fear and DON’T run when it gets scary, your body will get through to the other side and eventually stop fearing it.

    Basically, Philip Lerman did the same thing as a parent with dog phobia who accidentally “teaches” their kids to develop a dog phobia just by being afraid. If the parent is scared, the kid learns to fear. Lerman was afraid that his son would be hurt, so the kid learned to always be afraid of being hurt. He learned to feel very vulnerable and exposed to danger, because that’s how his father thought of him. It’s super scary to feel that you’re always in danger and unable to save yourself, so it’s no wonder he got an anxiety disorder!

    (I don’t blame Lerman, of course, he didn’t know, and even if he had known, it’s hard to hide from your kid that you’re scared.)

  11. psychology October 9, 2015 at 10:43 am #

    I actually think that helicopter parenting often is an anxiety disorder, btw. It’s common in anxiety disorders to fear that your loved ones will be hurt, and now there’s an entire “style” that CELEBRATES irrational fear that your kids will be hurt, and celebrates controlling behaviour (to stop them from being hurt). But if you stop your spouse from driving a car because you’re horribly afraid that they’ll get in a car accident, it would be considered “crazy”. For some reason, pathological anxiety that your children will die seems to fly under the radar.

  12. John October 9, 2015 at 11:14 am #

    Quote:

    “This is great. This is also proof of how fear mongering people like John Walsh can infect our society. I have always said John Walsh is the worst thing that happened to parents in the last fifty years. He is a virus that needs to go.”

    My sentiments exactly Warren! It is horrible what happened to his son BUT I believe that John Walsh in his never ending witch hunt for pedophiles has exploited his son’s tragic death and imbedded fear and paranoia in the minds of parents which, of course, has affected their kids. I also think that because of him the sex offender laws have become more stringent which may have affected minors more so than adults. When all is well and done, he has probably hurt children more than he’s helped them. This is what happens in a society that OVER reacts to extremely rare events.

  13. John October 9, 2015 at 11:34 am #

    This morning on the way to work, a doctor was being interviewed on a radio talk show I listen to and he was saying that parents nowadays bubble-wrap their young children to the point where they always keep them clean. This may sound very responsible on the part of parents; however, the doctor was saying this was the reason many teens and young adults nowadays have allergies. He said that parents need to allow their young children to play outside and get dirty in order for their immune systems to develop. He said kids would be much healthier if they did. He claimed, for example, that feeding young children peanuts when they’re toddlers could impede the child from developing a peanut allergy and the same goes for allowing them to get dirty.

    Imagine, street children in countries such as Egypt, India, the Philippines and Thailand being healthier than American kids from well-to-do families?!

  14. Denise October 9, 2015 at 11:37 am #

    I will freely admit that when I was pregnant looking towards a parenting style, I read about helicopter parenting… and realized my parents did that when I was young. My sister and I both have anxiety issues. Her kids are already in therapy for their anxiety.

    I became attracted to free range because I realized this was one way not to pass along my issues to my kids.

  15. That_Susan October 9, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    I love Philip Lerman and his willingness to be so open about his journey. I’ve also been just itching to give some updates on our own free-range journey, and this seems like a good place to do so.

    A few weeks ago, our 10-year-old started walking to and from school (about a mile away) on her own, and this new step has opened her life in amazing ways. First off, an old friend of ours who lives along our daughter’s route, noticed our daughter out walking checked to see if she’d like to stop and get her 6-year-old grandson on her way. He’d been wanting to walk, but his mom, who works nights and is tired in the mornings, preferred driving and didn’t feel he was quite old enough to go on his own. Our daughter loves younger children, but, not having younger siblings or really even younger relatives due to my siblings’ children all being grown, hasn’t really had a chance to be in a responsible role with them — but now she’s getting to with this little boy.

    Additionally, she’d been stopping every day to love on a little half-grown kitten who’d been rushing to her crying for her attention practically every time she passed by. After she was walking on her own, and could leave earlier (rather than waiting for me to go on break) and take her time, she started sitting right down on the sidewalk and really spending some quality minutes with this kitten. And a couple of neighbors were noticing and started communicating about how no one really seemed to be taking care of this kitten; she was always outside and slept under someone’s car or in a stroller on someone’s porch to keep warm, one lady left out food so she wouldn’t go hungry, and so on.

    So after checking into it and talking to various neighbors with no one claiming the kitten, we brought her home last Sunday and she seems very happy with us, as we are with her.

    On a side note, our 15-year-old daughter, who’s been walking places on her own for a few years now, was walking with one of her friends to her friend’s house one evening recently after they’d done their weekly volunteer work at a neighborhood soup kitchen — and they came across a handgun lying in the grass. So my daughter’s friend picked it up and carried it home, where they called the police…but before doing this, they naturally took a moment to lie down next to the gun and take a selfie of themselves, which my daughter posted on her Facebook wall with a caption along the lines of it being another casual day in the ghetto.

    I just added that to express the idea that while some parents in our school district complain about the-mile-and-a-half rule (which means that kids who live closer than that to their school don’t qualify for school bus transportation), and some even complain about their children having to walk a few blocks to catch the school bus, a few of us are, like, a little walking isn’t gonna hurt our kid. I expressed this at a district meeting one time, and one parent chimed in about shootings, seemingly unaware that people can also be shot in their cars or through the windows of their homes — not to mention the high risk of being injured or killed in a car accident.

    Childhood obesity is much more rampant in low-income neighborhoods than it is among the affluent, so here’s hoping that more parents in my “ghetto” will see the light! Maybe some’ve been inspired by my daughter’s FB page — who knows?

  16. Papilio October 9, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    “My favorite quote from the article
    “Inside, I was thinking: Oy gevalt.””

    Sometimes I get the feeling everyone else around here is Jewish and I’m the only one clueless about it 😀

  17. Filioque October 9, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    “Imagine, street children in countries such as Egypt, India, the Philippines and Thailand being healthier than American kids from well-to-do families?!”

    Definitely no imagination needed here. My two kids were both adopted at older ages from a developing country, and they have crazy strong immune systems. Never sick, no allergies.

  18. EricS October 9, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

    This is the thing most parents like Lerman fail to realize, THEIR fears and anxieties, end up being their children’s. Children are like sponges, whether we like it or not. It’s part of every human growing up. It’s ingrained in us to learn. Now what we learn, that’s an entirely different story. We can’t control our biological imperative to learn and experience, but we do have control in what we teach. So the question every parent has to ask themselves is, “is this better for ME, in the long run, or my kid?” Many parents act out on their own fears. Fears that have festered and grown in them as they got older. Now they automatically put their children in their place. Inadvertently removing them from their own childhood, and learning experiences. We have to let our kids learn on their own. That is the best way we can protect them. A child will never learn to read, if all we do is read to them. Same thing with anything else in life.

    My own loves YouTube, he’s learned to bake watching YouTube videos, since he was 8. We let him cook, and use a knife. Because he’s learned how to be around a hot stove, and to use a knife. Sure, he’ll probably burn or cut himself over time. Who hasn’t? Our children will never be 100% trouble or injure free, 100% of the time. Crap happens. That is as much a fact of life as the sun rising and setting. All we can do is prepare our children to be successful adults. And if we teach them proper, they will. The sooner the better.

  19. Stephanie October 9, 2015 at 2:54 pm #

    I love this. And I agree that it really helps to relieve your fears as a parent to let you kids do things on their own. My oldest is walking to the local Dairy Queen after school today with friends, for the first time. She has walked there before with her younger brother, but this is the first time she has gotten to go with friends, because most of the local parents are really, really protective. I’m just so relieved to see her starting to do normal stuff like that with her friends, rather than always being taken by parents.

    I just told her to text me when they’re done so I can decide if I’m picking her up (as the other parents are, but they live significantly further away) or if she just wants to walk home on her own. It’s sometimes hard to keep the other parents from insisting on giving her a ride home if I don’t show up, or there wouldn’t even be a question.

  20. olympia October 9, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    I think what a lot of people fail to realize is just how damaging the anxiety perpetuated by helicopter culture can be- they act like anxiety comes for free, and anyway- safety at any cost! I adamantly believe this is not the case. My mother, while not a helicopter parent overall, did have some areas in which she obsessed and worried, and the effect on me was profound. On her, too, as her eventual drug issues would prove. Anxiety is a risk to your health, straight up.

  21. Suzie October 9, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    I was like Philip Lerman with my son, who is now 18. He was a drug exposed premature baby, that I adopted at 2 months. I have three biological daughters that were born in the the 70’s. I raised them so differently!! We lived on a cul de sac and the stay at home moms would open the doors in the morning and the kids would all stream out into the street to play. We all watched each others kids. My girls grew up bold and healthy and happy. They are all employed home owners with children of their own. There were a few trips to the ER over the years, but they had confidence in themselves. My oldest when she was fourteen, wanted to go to the beach on the bus with a friend. I said sure. My dad heard about this terrible lapse in my judgement and told her that I was wrong to let her do that! I had enough confidence in my parenting to tell my dad to stay out of it.

    Adopting my son when my youngest was 19, times had changed!! Babies had to be locked in their car seats, toddlers did not roam the neighborhood with older kids on their own. Teenage girls did not go to the beach on their own at 14!! Children were taught stranger danger!!. Helmets strapped to their heads any time they stepped on anything with wheels. I do know some of these things are for the best, BUT my girls survived, and not one of their friends ever had a head injury or died in a car accident. My oldest daughter had leukemia and survived! We are born to live!!

    My son has severe anxiety from the way I have raised him. I don’t know why I went so far from the way I raised my girls. There was so much anxiety about everything. Is the carseat installed right? Is the helmet fitting correctly? Someone told me he could be taken away if I left him home alone at 11, while I ran to the store. I am loving the Free-Range concept. Lets go back to when parents instincts meant something. Let our kids have live their lives! Even if heaven forbid, their life is shorter than we would want, they lived a happy care free life, filled with joy and confidence! Kids are so filled with anxiety now days, some of them don’t even want to pursue getting their drivers license.

  22. anonymous mom October 9, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

    This piece has lots of good insights, but I’d want to make a distinction between an actual, diagnosable anxiety disorder and distressing but subclinical anxiety. (From what I’ve read, for example, the increase in anxiety among college students doesn’t seem to be more actually presenting with diagnosable anxiety disorders, but rather having trouble handling more normal anxiety–that’s part of the reason why it’s a problem, because having to hand-hold so many students through normal emotional distress and upheaval means that students who actually do have significant clinical problems are not getting the treatment they need.)

    We don’t know exactly what causes anxiety disorders, but it’s certainly not parenting alone (or even parenting primarily). Many seem to have a strong biological component. It’s unlikely that a helicopter parent could cause a full-blown anxiety disorder in a child, even if that parent might be leaving their child unable to handle normal stresses and anxieties in a healthy way.

  23. Doug October 9, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

    Children reflect their parents’ behaviors.

    When I came home after work and told the stories of what I had to put up with that day, it would rile me up. In turn, my toddler son got more troublesome.

    When we were travelling and the engine stalled thanks to a seal blowing out, my first reaction involved anger and anxiety. My son, sitting in the back seat, looked at me with eyes wide with fear. My emotions were reflected back at me. I forced myself to appear calm. “Hey, we’re on an adventure, right?” And he calmed down.

    Yes, parents’ fears and worries become their childrens’ worries. Let those worries fester long enough, and you’ll get children with real psychological problems.

  24. Steve October 10, 2015 at 12:59 am #

    Great example of how the “Anxiety-of-the-Parent” gets passed along to the child.

    And we’re not talking about something hereditary here.

  25. sexhysteria October 10, 2015 at 5:42 am #

    Better late than never!

  26. gdeLhzRwerhlCqu October 11, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

    zVEWJpddCxyxqmmDHQ 1356

  27. Mikel October 11, 2015 at 11:03 pm #

    Reading through the replies to this, and as one who is firmly on the free range side of the divide on how best to raise children, I have to make a comment about keeping perspective with respect to safety equipment.

    Having a kid strap a helmet on before jumping on a bike or skateboard should not be viewed as a freakishly safe and helicopter thing to do. And it needn’t be something that interferes with participation. It should just be presented as part of the uniform one wears to bike or skate. No anxiety, no fear mongering, but “this is just what one wears to do this”.

    If a skydiver jumped out of a plane without a parachute, that would be crazy risk taking. And insistence on strapping on that parachute first would never be presented as helicopter-style supervision. Conversely, the presence of the parachute does not guarantee survival from the jump.

    Same goes for the bike helmet. Makes a lot of sense to wear, shouldn’t interfere with participation and enjoyment, but also does not guarantee a safe trip, or survival for that matter. Just some risk mitigation that the statistics support.

    Unlike the statistics on kidnapping…

    In other words, sense use of common safety gear does not necessarily equate to neurotic, overprotective parenting.

  28. That_Susan October 12, 2015 at 6:45 am #

    I completely agree Mikel. Very well said.

  29. Diana Too October 12, 2015 at 7:57 am #

    The MOST POWERFUL FATHER FIGURE IN AMERICA during the past twenty years–George Washington pales by comparison–has been John Walsh. Now, it appears, John Walsh’s second in command has defected to the Free Range. How is that possible?

    His own child “aged out”. His son is sixteen, on the verge of adulthood. And Daddy now has more common ground with Zach Anderson’s parents than with the Walshes.

    In the law, it depends on whose ox is being gored.

    And who has the most money for lawyers.

  30. Sarah October 12, 2015 at 9:34 am #

    I love the illustration of resiliency in this story. We tend to be crippled by the fears of permanent scars from our stumbles through parenting. The truth is both the kids and parents can recover and still grow into healthier people if they’re willing to reflect on their choices and make some changes. I’m so glad he shared his story.

  31. Papilio October 12, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    @Mikel: Seems like you’re confusing bike helmets with seatbelts…

    First of, there is cycling and then there is cycling. The Tour de France is completely different from people pedaling to the grocery store, which is again different from mountainbiking offroad in a hilly area or riding a BMX on a halfpipe.
    Tests in a lab give far more positive results for helmets than analysis of real-world data that takes everything into account (such as the fact that heads are generally attached to bodies); all in all bike helmets are still very controversial; wearing one certainly doesn’t “just make sense”.
    This site tries to create some order in the pro&con chaos: http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1139.html

    Where I live, wearing a helmet for (utility) cycling absolutely IS a freakishly safe and helicopter thing to do. https://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/not-dangerous/

    Also, skydiving without a parachute has a pretty much guaranteed result* – can you still call that risk taking??
    *No, I didn’t actually check what the chances are above water etc…

  32. James Pollock October 12, 2015 at 10:11 am #

    “skydiving without a parachute has a pretty much guaranteed result* – can you still call that risk taking??
    *No, I didn’t actually check what the chances are above water etc…”

    People routinely jump to their death from the Golden Gate bridge. On the other hand, there are cases of people surviving a skydive where their parachute doesn’t open. Nothing guaranteed.

  33. Sarah J October 12, 2015 at 11:57 am #

    As someone who grew up with an anxious, overprotective mother, (though she wasn’t as extreme as some of the helicopter parents you hear about today. Plus, my dad allowed more freedom) I feel I’m in a good place to tell such parents that they aren’t doing their kids any favors. Some parents are okay with their kids being afraid of everything, but kids grow up to be adults, and do you really want your adult child to be too scared to go outside at night, or ride the bus, or swim in the ocean, or travel someplace cool? I’m 22 and I’m too afraid to drive a car because my parents would make such a big deal about how likely we are to get into an accident. (though they don’t seem to acknowledge their role in this) Admittedly I’ve always been a naturally anxious and fearful person, but my mom’s behavior made things a lot worse.

  34. Diana Too October 14, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

    We had John Walsh in the early eighties. Then the hysteria of the Nursery School Witch Hunts in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Then the tough-on-crime era of the mid-90’s, with a predator behind every bush, and white vans and white puppies in-every school yard. No wonder we all freaked out. We were conditioned to fear and anxiety and dread and hatred toward very unfamiliar person for miles around. So we locked them up and threw away the keys. And all these years later, we are still wreaking vengeance on those we thusly condemned to life on the sex offender registry. We have deprived them of life, liberty, and normal lives because of our deeply held fear and anxiety. Nothing more than that. Our fear. Our anxiety.

    And our kids have paid a terrible price as well.

  35. James Pollock October 16, 2015 at 11:52 pm #

    “We had John Walsh in the early eighties.”

    We have John Walsh now. He has his own TV network (at least, he seems to pop up on it a LOT.)