Maureen Turner: We Are Family


Are We Ruining Childhood For Our Children?

Let Kids Be Kids

Okay, it’s time to stop with all the coddling, and hovering, and helicoptering. Give your kids some space! Let them be kids.

We are stealing their childhood.

Sure there need to be rules. Don’t talk to strangers, look both ways before you cross the street, don’t hit your sister, don’t hit your brother... I don’t care if he hit you first, don’t throw balls in the house, and don’t play with balls on the playground... what?

That’s right, a school in Toronto has banned kids playing with balls... outside! I don’t know about you, but when my kids throw the ball in the house, I tell them to go outside. Now they can’t play with balls outside? What is this world coming to?

Remember when kids roamed the streets, knocked on each other's doors to come out and play, and stayed out till the street lights came on? Play dates with chaperones have taken over, and it makes me sad.

Each generation thinks that the newness of their era is going to corrupt their children. We can look back as far as Socrates who was thought to be corrupting young minds. In the 50’s Elvis had those sultry, swaying hips that were turning young women into tramps. Today, we blame the media, video games, advertising... I think we blame whoever we can for taking the innocence out of childhood. But who is taking the childhood out of childhood? We are!
We are way too protective.

We need to let our kids climb trees, let them play in the dirt (let them eat dirt, even), let them ride bicycles... with no hands if they are so inclined, and let them play with freaking balls!

My parents let me do all those things, you know what happened? I broke my arm falling out of a tree. Sure my parents probably hated seeing me hurt, but it turned out okay. I let my daughter, Rebecca, do these things and she broke her arm falling off her bike. I too, hated seeing her little arm in a cast, but it didn’t stop her, she ran a triathlon with that cast.

Kids are durable. Yes, they are going to do things you don’t want them to, yes they might get scrapes and scratches, a few breaks even, but you don’t have to follow them around making sure they don’t get into trouble or get hurt.

I know what you’re going to tell me, it’s not the same as when we were kids, there are crazies out there, you have to protect your kids. Did you know that the rate of violent crime today is approximately the same now as it was in the 1970’s?

So, I guess maybe the media is ruining childhood because they are the ones putting all the violent crimes in the spotlight making us think that we have to be helicopter parents.

I’ll say it again: it’s time to stop with all the coddling, and hovering, and helicoptering. Give your kids some space! Let them be kids.