Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Are American Children Coddled?

The Art of Manliness offers some suggestion and reflections. When I was a child, we lived in Gaithersburg, Maryland, in a neighborhood full of big old turn-of-the-century houses and several large families. All the mothers were at home all day. (I was five and did not even know that mommies could have jobs, unless they were teachers but the teachers lived at school, of course.) In the summer, we would run from house to house all day, roaming around the neighborhood, walking places by ourselves, such as to the drugstore for a "slurpy." We were warned about staying away from certain places and certain people, especially total strangers. Everyone kept an eye on everyone else. No one worried and nothing awful ever happened, at least not in our little neighborhood. How things have changed. Share

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have discussed this subject often. We are both Gen Xrs and we see how our friends coddle their children. However, it's hard not to lean towards being overprotective when there are 11 registered sex offenders within a 2 mile radius of your house (and we don't live in a "bad" neighborhood). Also, I'm a paralegal in a law office that does criminal defense work. I have seen some horror stories involving children.

Still, I think back to the stories my father told me about being a boy growing up in St. Louis (he was born in 1926). He and his friends would take public transportation all over the city by themselves, go to baseball games by themselves and would be gone all day. It was a great childhood, one free of fear.

We hope to strike a balance between being cautious with regard to our son and coddling him (which, I agree with the writer ultimately leaves them more vulnerable in the long run).

elena maria vidal said...

It is difficult to strike a balance, Juliana. I agree. Especially when there are registered sex offenders in the neighborhood....Prayer and discernment are so necessary....

papabear said...

If there's no local communal network with bonds of trust--if one doesn't know one's neighbors or know that one can depend upon them to help watch one's children and protect them, if necessary, it may be very difficult to let them run around unsupervised, especially without any self-defense skills. (And these days in suburbia, how many neighbors would actually be at home during the morning or afternoon?)

elena maria vidal said...

I totally agree.

Anonymous said...

Sex offenders living nearby came to my mind too. And if you check that national registry of sex offenders, I think you'll find there is no neighborhood that does not have one--or several--nearby

La gallina said...

I'm a little late on this post, but YES, American children are coddled. It seems that parents go overboard on babying their children, perhaps to make up for being away from them so much. Parents want to keep their children wrapped in yards of styrofoam to make sure they never scrape their knee. ("Junior, let me put your helmet on before you get on your tricycle.")

It sometimes seems that parents are really clueless, so they make up for it by being ultra safe. I'm a "Gen Xr" also, have five young kids, and of course I'm a protective mother. But mostly I try to protect them from spending their childhoods watching a lot television and playing video games.

I once saw an interview with a young woman and her mother who made a huge impact on my parenting. The girl was born without arms. Her mother made her learn to do everything by herself, using her feet, despite the girls crying and begging. The mother knew she had to teach her daughter to take care of herself so she wouldn't always have to rely on others. The mother cried as she talked about this because it was so painful to have to force her crying daughter to be self-sufficient.

But now the daughter is incredible at using her legs and feet to do absolutely everything. It made me realize that sometimes we have to be tough on our kids rather than coddle them.