You, The Parent Have Changed, Not Your Kid!

We are now a generation of overprotective parents and despite our technological advancements (there’s an app for every stage of your baby’s life!), we’re still as stressed and worried as ever. How come? Are the kids to blame or have we simply changed as a generation of parents?

There’s the media, the fast-paced lifestyle, and the unique challenges that confront this generation of parents. Despite the fact that we are armed with so much knowledge, there’s still a need to sludge your way through the fluff and figure out which parenting tips are actually worth the trial and effort. So it’s no wonder that parents nowadays are more stressed than ever!

We are bombarded by both horrible and petty crimes that specifically target children and teens every day. Just a scroll through your Facebook or Twitter homepage could prove to be stressful! And even though every generation of parents would’ve probably thought that THEIR generation had the biggest problems to face, it’s safe to say that our generation is facing a unique set of problems and yes, the paranoia regarding children’s safety is not completely unreasonable. But of course, we must also use our common sense.

1. We are now more protective than ever
Numerous studies show that parents now are more protective than ever. A lot of parents can recall their childhood wherein they rode public transport freely, went on long bike rides for hours (unsupervised), and basically got around without the help of mom and dad. Nowadays, kids are shuttled back and forth by moms or dads from one activity to another activity. Most playtimes are supervised.

2. Children are all born with the same evolutionary desire to take risks
If you really think about it, the kids are still the same. They still want to run around and play with friends. They still want to feel a sense of fun and adventure. And if you manage to get your kid to stop playing video games for long periods of time, what else is there to do than to go outside and have fun?

Evolutionary speaking, children were equipped with the natural desire to take risks. Playtime HAD to include a bit of risk taking in order to equip them for the dangers of the world. It was necessary for survival. Nowadays, children who don’t experience ‘dangerous activities’ like climbing up a tree or playing in the woods were more likely to develop phobias in adulthood, according to a research by Roger Hart.

So if the parents are too overprotective, this means that they are doing more harm than good.

3. Media awareness and the statistics
According to statistics, the crime rates in the 70s to the late 90s were almost the same as it was today. In the early 40s to the 60s however, the crime rate was smaller by almost 40%. So yes, we can argue that in the good old days (40s to 60s), there really wasn’t much crime going on. Parents can let their children ride public transport, go on long bike rides, and basically have fun on their own while completely unsupervised.

But a lot of parents point out that back in the day, people just didn’t know a lot about crimes. There was no Internet to deliver the news pretty quickly. Nowadays, it could also be that the increased awareness brought on by technology has impaired our judgments as parents. Back then; it was taboo to talk about sexual abuse. Nowadays, there is a registry to check out if there’s a sexual offender living nearby.

We are aware if the neighborhood we live in is safe or not. Regardless, we’ve been bombarded by so many news updates regarding sexual abuse, teen drug use, et cetera that it’s actually socially acceptable to walk your child to and from school without ridicule. (In the 70s, parents who walked their kids to school were uncommon.)

4. So what do we do?
We are so stressed as a generation of parents because we’re saturated. We know so much to the point that we can almost anticipate danger from 10 miles away! We think the world is such a big, bad place that it isn’t possible to leave the kids unsupervised for 10 minutes up to an hour. If we stay overprotective, we’re going to have to deal with grown ups who have a hard time dealing with the world. The dangers will always be present and we can only shield our children from so much trouble.

So the best approach is this: to keep it simple. As a parent, you already know deep down how to deal with this issue. You don’t need to buy special gadgets or devices to keep track of your children. You have to teach them about the dangers of the outside world and to be aware of any signs of danger. Use a smartphone for good instead of bad. But at the end of the day, allow them to go on adventures: bike rides and other age-appropriate games. If you open the doors of communication, it’s not so hard to tell them that you’re worried about this and that so they better inform you about their whereabouts. Remind your children everyday, in the most loving way possible. After all, you want to encourage them to become street smart! As a parent, just be vigilant and remind them to be home by supper.