I was scrolling through my Yahoo newsfeed this morning when I suddenly spied this headline:Â Free hnffbbnfzs
Range Parents Are Scapegoats For Parents Scared They Aren’t God.
What a fascinating piece on the fact we really want to believe if we only do everything “right” our kids will be safe. The columnist, Cara Valle, begins:
â€œAmericaâ€™s Worst Mom,â€ as Lenore Skenazy playfully admits to being called, discusses in a recent American Conservative article a pathological paranoia that seems to be gripping American parents. She points to a grossly inflated perception of some dangers our children face.
Valle lists some more commonplace dangers versus the ones we obsess about, then continues (boldface mine):
Yet I think itâ€™s not primarily an inflated view of danger that drives hostility to â€œfree-range parenting.â€ Rather, itâ€™s a competitive compulsion to build up oneâ€™s self-esteem by finding fault with other parents. Itâ€™s a kind of apolitical parental virtue-signaling.
This compulsive fault-finding is symptomatic of the near-universal â€œjust world hypothesis.â€ As much as many of us may profess moral relativism, deep down we all want good things to happen to good people and bad things to happen to bad ones (assuming, of course, that we are the good people). We desperately want the universe to be on our side. We want a guarantee that, if we follow all the rules, everything will be alright. We millennials are famous for struggling to conquer this mentality.
Because we want following the rules to guarantee our safety and well-being â€” and that of our children â€” we delight in pointing the finger at rule-breakers. It affirms our subconscious belief that every story has a villain, that there is always someone to blame. Jesus reportedly encountered this in John 9:2: â€œAnd his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?â€
If we can find out whom to blame and avoid their mistakes, then those horrible, awful child-abduction, battery-swallowing, sudden-infant-death nightmares will never come true for us.
This is why we treat pregnant women like veal calves: donâ€™t drink wine, donâ€™t run, donâ€™t jump, donâ€™t get stressed, donâ€™t go near smokers, donâ€™t drink coffee, donâ€™t eat soft cheese, donâ€™t use hair products â€” hundreds upon hundreds of prohibitions, most aimed at a laughably infinitesimal risk. These prohibitions have less to do with preventing harm to children than with bandaging the hemorrhagic guilt that seems to afflict every parent I know, myself included.
She is so right. Parents live not just with the fear of something terrible happening, but the fear of overwhelming guilt: Why didn’t we, who have so much ability to control our children’s lives, PREVENT it?
This guilt will grow as technology puts parents in a position to oversee almost everything their kids’ do, see, read, watch, eat, hear and encounter, even when out of reach. Our job at Free-Range Kids is to combat the idea that parents can be God, if only to block the blame that comes with that belief. – L.
Only way a parent is going to stave off death is if your Dad is Darth Plagueis
As soon as religion is brought into it, you’ve lost me.
Vicki Bradley, showing prejudice against religion is just as distasteful as prejudice against parenting choices. All of the helicopter parents I know are Christian (I am Christian as well), and I think there is some universal overlap of the two, so the author is clearly pointing out that even in the Bible, a book many helicopter parents profess to follow, these same issues arise. It’s a great point to make, and helps overturn the stereotype that Christians should be helicopter parents while free-range parents are clearly heretical hippies.
This reasoning is also the unfortunate reason so many folks seem to turn to litigation when something bad happens. They try to make sense of the universe and in a rational world there is always someone or something to blame. I prefer my tort law professor’s enlightening statement that this is not always the case and that sometimes the reason behind a tragedy or accident is Shit Happens.
I *love* seeing evidence that your message is spreading, Lenore. We need so much more of it.
Part of the problem is this expectation that everyone follows the same set of rules. As a waitress, I can’t tell you how many times, when I ask my tables if they have any dietary restrictions, I get the answer: “Well, I’m pregnant”.
Okay, well I’ve had 2 kids and I don’t know what that means.
In addition to being afraid, lots of times parents fears are misplaced. I was watching a journalist piece about terrorism and how news pieces about foreign born terrorists get a lot more attention than other events even though 95% of terrorist events were carried out by people born and raised here (I am American so may not apply elsewhere). So because of the reporting people have this fear. A guy on the show mentioned that the likelihood of being killed in any kind of terrorist attack here is roughly the same as winning the lottery and that if people are really afraid of death they should focus more on not texting while driving or watching what they eat cause car crashes and food related health problems actually are things to worry about. This site is not about terrorism and is about parenting, but the parallels really struck me. It’s natural to feel a little anxious about your child and is something we have to struggle through in order for them to become free healthy adults, but if you’re going to worry let’s not worry about kidnappings, school shootings, other rare events and really focus on those that actually are actually leading causes of death (car crashes, suicide). But of course those stories just aren’t as sensational for us to think about.
Vicki Bradley, it was merely a quote. Don’t get your panties in a wad over it.
Nope, Melissa, you can try to sell it any way you want, but it’s a game changer for me when religion is brought into the fray.
“This reasoning is also the unfortunate reason so many folks seem to turn to litigation when something bad happens. They try to make sense of the universe and in a rational world there is always someone or something to blame.”
You’re more generous than me. Or at least, less cynical. I think the reason many people sue when something bad happens is that they see dollar signs and an opportunity to make some cash. Don’t get me wrong, I see a clear place for paying to fix damage you’ve caused and for punitive damages in some cases. But far too many people simply want to cash in at any opportunity that presents itself. Helicopter parenting is both a response to and a form of this sort of behavior.
“As soon as religion is brought into it, youâ€™ve lost me.”
This is nonsense. Some people hold the views they do for ostensibly religious reasons. To convince them they’re wrong, you need to address those reasons. Ignoring them merely ensures your methods are completely ineffectual. No one says you have to accept anyone else’s religion–but you have to accept, as a merely factual statement, that people hold the religious beliefs they hold. Plus, religion is a source of ethical guidance for many people, and of community–both of which strongly play into parenting norms.
If you’re going to ignore religion, or dismiss any argument that brings it up, you are rendering yourself incompetent to discuss a wide range of topics with most people on the planet. That’s not religion, by the way–that’s sociological fact.
@Vicky: It wasn’t about religion. Religion/God was just used a reference point for those that look to point fingers to make themselves feel better. By seeing “fault” in others, they ease the guilt and fear they constantly fear. That’s the point of the article. Deflection from their own fears and guilt. Rather than owning up to them and dealing with accordingly. Like our parents before us, and their parents before them, etc…
Vicki, there’s no reason to be so hostile to Christianity. The excerpt about blaming rulebreakers means the practice goes back at least to when the bible was written, which means this behavior is probably just part of us being human, given that’s been happening for 2000 years. I’m sure if you dig through historical records you can find other examples.
@James: Well said. I’m not a “religious” person. But I grew up in religion, which has lead me to believe their is a higher power. But over time, I started thinking for myself, and came to the “compromise” that it’s not about controlling us, or intervening. But rather guides us to do the right things. For ourselves and those around us. Whatever one’s own belief system conforms them, mental suggestions ingrained in all of us from childhood to adulthood for the last 3000 years, it’s going to have a lasting and impactful impression. Much like how some parents of today have the mentality they have towards children. They can’t help it because it’s what they’ve been conditioned to think, feel, and fear. Our generation was conditioned to think differently. More for the betterment of our children, than our own egos.
If you believe this life is all there is, your beliefs about safety and death will be very different from those who believe there is an after-life.
The following short but fascinating video is of a man describing his near death experience (NDE). There are lots of NDE videos on youtube. Many of them are much longer than this one and have lots of detail. If you watch 4 or 5, you might change what you believe about the end of this life:
@SteveD “If you believe this life is all there is, your beliefs about safety and death will be very different from those who believe there is an after-life.”
I don’t think so. If there is evidence that atheists are more/less safety conscious across cultures, I would like to see it.
“If you believe this life is all there is, your beliefs about safety and death will be very different from those who believe there is an after-life.”
There is no evidence for this assertion. I’ve known atheists who were atheists for years before anyone knew about it–and they only found out because the atheist happened to mention it. (I’m not talking “in the closet” atheists; these folks weren’t ashamed of their atheism, it just didn’t come up in conversation very much.) This is supported by demographic studies–just about the only difference between atheists and theists is that atheists tend to be slightly more generous, for a host of reasons I don’t think we can fully tease apart.
“The excerpt about blaming rulebreakers means the practice goes back at least to when the bible was written, which means this behavior is probably just part of us being human, given thatâ€™s been happening for 2000 years.”
It’s not just that, though. The Bible is a shared reference, one of the few we can assume the other person will understand. It’s engrained in our culture, and even our language; to understand English you need to understand the Bible (as well as the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner and a few other literary works). And most accept that Jesus was a good moral teacher, regardless of their beliefs in his divinity. So it makes sense–from a pure rhetorical and literary sense–to reference Jesus in an argument. The fact that some people view allusion with open hostility is a sad commentary on the state of our educational system. I’m not picking on Vicki here; I’ve seen people FAR more hostile to allusion and referencing literary works, and the trend baffles me.
â€œ…just about the only difference between atheists and theists is that atheists tend to be slightly more generous, for a host of reasons I donâ€™t think we can fully tease apart.”
Arthur C. Brooks, wrote a book called:
WHO REALLY CARES: America’s Charity Divide – Who Gives, Who Doesn’t, and Why it matters.
His research shows the opposite of what you said.
“His research shows the opposite of what you said.”
Different studies will show different results due to statistical fluctuation. It’s a known problem, one I cited recently in a previous thread. I’m perfectly content to say that the difference is not significant. It doesn’t change my point: atheists and theists generally do not act wildly different.
“Different studies will show different results due to statistical fluctuation. ”
Not just statistical fluctuation, but also time and place. The less christians and atheists keep themselves in their own bubbles, the more likely they are to have a bit different cultures. However, the aspects of those cultures may be very different among places and can flip over time. Sometimes, christians are more forgiving, other times christians are more intolerant and strict. Christianity can be used as both argument for risk taking (and emotional help during it) and as argument against it.
I love/hate how one of the many rules for pregnant women is don’t stress. Yeah, like that’s possible when everyone thinks they have the right to tell you how you’re doing it wrong, on top of already wondering if you’re doing it all wrong.
Vicki, your ignorance is showing. Even the staunchest atheists and agnostics I know recognize the Bible as a piece of literature that is a part of our culture. From that viewpoint, citing a reference from it is no more or less significant than making a reference to something from Shakespeare.
“I think the reason many people sue when something bad happens is that they see dollar signs and an opportunity to make some cash.”
Would you still think so if you knew that lawsuits don’t work that way? Lawsuits aren’t about getting paid… they’re about being paid back, for expenses you have or will have that you wouldn’t have if not for (whatever the other party did). This is 100% true in contract lawsuits, and about 98% true in tort lawsuits.
You don’t get “free” money for winning a lawsuit… you get paid back money you’ve spent, or will have to spend.
(Note that in many states, all or most punitive damage awards are paid to the state, not the plaintiffs)
@Shelly Stow People tend to be less offended when I criticize or dislike Shakespeare. Also, Shakespeare disciples dont try to influence lives of those around them nor legislative. At maximum, they will complain about drama I dont care about structure. Nor are Shakespeare disciples hated as much by anyone as some atheist hate Christianity.
Shakespeare and bible are not the same nor their citations have same implications. Shakespeare quotation can not be used to manipulate people the way bible quotation can be.
Gosh Vicki Bradley, I hope you didn’t burst into flames after seeing the Bible quote.
“Gosh Vicki Bradley, I hope you didnâ€™t burst into flames after seeing the Bible quote.”
The fun is when people quote a line of Scripture as if that ends an argument, and then sputter and fume when it doesn’t.
It was funny to see Vicky’s reply. I’m not religious. I’m not sticking up for Christianity. I just think that people can become so bull headed that their opinion is the only thing that exists. Hardcore religious fanatics AND hardcore atheist fanatics can be just as close-minded as their opponent.
When I talk about God, I instead say, â€œThe G Wordâ€. This is a dig at people like Vicky that go nuts the same as someone that can go nuts when they hear a curse word!
I’m not sticking up for god loving people or for atheists. I’m pointing out that the extremists actually have a lot in common. I laugh at both of them. (extremists)
All wok said was that she dislike religious references and that they make her stop being interested in argument. The collective offense on that is weird assuming religious references are nothing special. People said the same about all kinds of safety arguments (you would regret if something happened) and that was ok on this forum.
Which is what makes religious references different – you have to tiptoe around when you criticise or dis agree.
i pretty much live in a state of constant fear and guilt!
James P. raises a good point regarding litigation and he is correct. For some reason, many people view lawsuits like they view kidnappings and sex trafficking, in that the reality isn’t what is always portrayed in the media. Typically, only the more outrageous torts make the news and this creates the expectation that every perceived wrong results in some kind of huge payout.
Reminds me of medieval views that warned against eating Hare your your child would have a harelip, or eating fish would give them a trout pout. As well as mothers seeing an animal, and imprinting that upon the unborn child. This is not a new fear at all, just in a different form, with vastly more knowledge then we knew before. Either way I think it serves as a means, of having some sort of control over our lives. That if we only did X,Y, and Z, that bad things will be warded off. Much like the held belief of magical charms, and so fourth.
“Nope, Melissa, you can try to sell it any way you want, but itâ€™s a game changer for me when religion is brought into the fray.”
But why would you be PROUD of closing your mind just be cause you hear those nasty, scary God-words you don’t like?
Steve S: I would say that what you’re discussing is part of it. Another part is that settling out of court is a real possibility. It’s often cheaper for companies to simply pay you to go away, rather than fighting you in court–even if they know they’ll win. So there’s a reasonable chance, based on economics, that if you press charges you’ll make money off of it. Certainly a much higher chance than you have of being abducted in WalMart.
i am an atheist but mostly I put that comment out there to rile up the religious people – mission accomplished!
“i am an atheist but mostly I put that comment out there to rile up the religious people â€“ mission accomplished!”
You got pretty riled up over a simple Bible quote. That in itself is very crazy.
“i am an atheist but mostly I put that comment out there to rile up the religious people”
â€œi pretty much live in a state of constant fear and guilt!â€
You’re not alone. Millions do. What’s crazy is that some of these people point blame and stir up fear in order to get the spotlight off of them. This in turn ‘pollutes’ the world and puts them deeper into a state of constant fear and guilt!
In order to explain this further, I’ll use an analogy of a flue virus.
When you get the flu, you feel like resting. However, imagine if it made you feel like stripping naked and rolling around in the snow! The feelings that this sickness generates makes the sickness even worse!
I managed to talk my mom down today. She found out my 17 year old nephew was going to be at home alone for the weekend while his parents and younger brother go out of town.
You could not meet a more reserved and responsible kid. He will spend 99% of his time reading, and if he needs anything his other grandmother lives less than a block away in the same housing development.
My brother told my mom that my nephew was really looking forward to his time alone this weekend, and to being given the responsibility of watching over the house while they are away. My mom however has been in a tizzy the last few days and declared she was going to drive 5 hours to stay with her almost adult grandson this weekend, to prevent anything from happening to him. I’m glad she changed her mind. She can text him from time to time, to ease her own nerves, but he deserves his weekend of peace and quiet.
I’d guess the mental processes go beyond virtue signaling. Bad manifestations of virtue signaling often come with some outrage channeled to cries for enforcement of the “right” rules/behavior it stands for, but often it is relatively inconsequential.
Helicopter parenting, however, requires far more commitment than – say – engage in boycotts against brands, enter petitions and social media “share-a-thons”, adopt certain free-time lifestyles or diets etc. For it to be minimally workable, it requires profound adjustments in the parents’ routines.
Becuase helicopter parenting demands so much from parents, draining their own emotional and physical energy, it probably elicits a profound sense of injustice and perception of freeloading when they see other non-helicoptering parents living their lives without “paying their dues” in respect to their children.
This reminds me of how one of the elements that fueled controversy around the contraception pill in the 1960s and early 1970s was, according to reports of the time, some perception that it would be unfair for couples to have an easy and relatively easy way to control their own fertility without bringing their sexual satisfaction into the equation.
I think the reason many people sue when something bad happens is that they see dollar signs and an opportunity to make some cash.
There may be some reporting bias–the truly ridiculous ones are the ones that get reported because they’re truly ridiculous. It’s also the case that you may see those without means more willing to sue because of the costs.
I took a few trips to the emergency room when I was a kid. We had decent health insurance and it never really created a hardship–at least that I was aware of. But with the increased costs of medical care and health insurance, I could see families not being able to afford it. In which case, yeah, I might be more willing to go after someone else to pay the medical bills rather than just saying, “Meh! Shit Happens! I’ll pay for it…”
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I met the CH-53E of helicopter parents yesterday. I had an interview with a candidate for a position that we have open. The candidate showed up on time with his Mother. I thought that she had given him a ride and didn’t want to wait in the car since it was a hot day. No, she insisted on coming into the interview with him. I called HR and asked what I should do? I was told it was up to me, so I told her that she would have to wait in the lobby. She grabs her son by the arm and tells him that they were leaving.
jimc5499, that seems insane to me. I can’t imagine my parents showing up to discuss work with my boss, much less at the interview! Even as a kid it was my interview, and Mom driving me wasn’t an option–my first job interview I walked to, not having a license yet.
Frankly if someone brought their parent(s) to an interview, I wouldn’t hire them. No worker is worth the inevitable drama associated with such an attitude.
jimc, how old was this candidate? That sounds freaky!
I was always on my own for getting a job, from the time I was 10yo. I had many jobs, from babysitting to folding boxes at a pizzeria to paper routes, long before I was eligible for a work permit / driver’s license.
The summer I was 18, my mom decided I was a slacker and needed a full-time summer job. We were rural, so there wasn’t much opportunity nearby. She told me to drive to the nearest city, 12mi away, and “darken every doorstep until you have a job.” Which I did. I had a job within hours. My parents never did meet my bosses. Why would they?