Parenting: Are We Overdoing It?

Picture it: Your toddler is perched precariously on the edge of that high-backed chair in your in-law’s living room as she tries to figure out how to get herself back down. One false step could mean an afternoon in the E.R. You have a few choices here. One is to run over frantically, grab her in a wrestling hold, leave the house and never return. The other is to look the other way and hope for the best. Several other choices lie somewhere in between. The question is this: how much intervening on our part is helpful, and how much serves to stifle the independence of the very children we are charged with raising to be self-sufficient adults?

A recent article in Boston Magazine, Welcome to the Age of Overparenting, discusses how many of us are now part of The Age of Overparenting. In my own experience, my friends and I often recant stories of snowball fights at the bus-stop, sneaking by a secret crush’s house on the walk home from school, and knocking on a friend’s door to see if they could ride bikes without calling first. We marvel at the freedom we had, and may even secretly think our parents were crazy to afford us that alone time when any number of disasters may have struck. But they didn’t, and when we talk about these experiences, it is with a wistful gleam in our eyes. Today, snowball fights between our children only occur under the watchful eyes of a parent, trips to and from school are in the car, and play-dates are organized within the calendars of our Blackberry.

This thought-provoking article examines how many of us are trying to find that balance between smothering and neglect. As we all know, there are endless opinions offered from family and media on how we should raise our children: Everyone from great-aunts, to in-laws, to the childless neighbor-lady who will give a sideways glance if it is below 65 degrees and my child isn’t wearing a hat. In the end, it is important to find what we are comfortable with as individuals. And if she happens to fall from that high-backed chair? Well, we’ll just use the Emergency Room experience as a “learning opportunity” and call it a day.

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