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Helicopter parents – ‘we’re our own worst enemies’

kids climb treesI remember their first time with a mix of humour and horror.

At the tender age of five, Taj reached out his spindly limb to grab another, and hoist himself up the magnolia tree.

You’ve heard of the expression, ‘helicopter parent’? I was more like a trampoline parent, bouncing below, arms spread wide so I could cushion his fall.

How had it come to this?

I was always writing columns, and ranting on radio, about the dangers of bubble-wrapping children. According to psychologists, it erodes their independence, damages their confidence, and inhibits their development.

A study by Wannabees Family Play Town in Sydney’s Frenchs Forest casts new light on this trend.

Two-thirds of parents surveyed said they thought kids were too risk-averse these days, because of bubble-wrapping. But one-third of those admitted to cushioning their own kids in cotton wool.

It seems we’re our own worst enemies.

I could count on one hand the number of times my kids have climbed trees. The Wannabees study found almost 10 per cent of parents had never let their kids mark this important milestone.

With our second child, Grace, we loosened the apron strings. Subsequently, she is braver and bolder than her brother, tearing down steep hills on her BMX bike while he is stricken with fear.

When I push him, I feel like a hypocrite. I, too, don’t like going outside my comfort zone. I guess we all have to live with compromises.

Believe it or not, a convicted paedophile was arrested at our local park, trying to groom young boys. The study showed 64 per cent of parents believed the world was a more dangerous place, than when they were kids. While crime statistics don’t bear this out, I suspect I will always be a hoverer.

After all, as the old saying goes, “It’s better to be safe than sorry”.

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  1. Everybody is too protective of their kids these days. Let them eat dirt and then maybe they won’t be sick every 5 minutes. Studies show that Australia is not a more dangerous place than it was 20 years ago when most parents were growing up.

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