Monday, July 28, 2008

Wimp Nation: the interview

*Update: there is a final part of this interview. Please see the post above this one, or go here to hear the last piece of my interview with from A Nation of Wimps author Hara Estroff Marano. She concludes our conversation with words on the pitfalls of professional mothering, the value of boredom in childhood, and why tricycles and bike helmets don't go together.

Crabby friends and enemies,

Today I am doing something a little different: I'm running the first piece of this post here at my Cookie magazine bloglet and the second part of it below. Some may see this as a ploy to get you to go to Cookie. (Goodness, what a fallacious idea!) Actually, though your traffic at the bloglet won't hurt, the real reason for splitting this piece into two is that I had big ole' fat convo with my new favorite author, Hara Estroff Marano (Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting), and to put the entire chat up in one spot would be way too dang long for a single blog post.

So, here's how it works: go here to read the first part of the interview, in which Hara E. Marano shares her impressions of—and considerable research on—freaky, hyper-anxious parenting, or skip the first piece if you must, and pick up the thread below. It's a very loose but not unedited version of the interview; I deleted all the bits in which I rambled insanely, and then I reshaped my own words to make myself sound amazingly on the topic. Kidding. I couldn't delete all my rambles, but I tried. Anyhoo, I hope you find this to be of interest and as always feel free to give a thumbs up or down, as you see fit, in the comments.

To set up this bit, Hara and I were yakking about how uber-protective parenting manifests in our culture today. I asked her for some crazy overkill examples...

Hara Estroff Marano: I was visiting my younger son, and friends of theirs told me about this couple and their 2-year-old toddler daughter who visited. They flew into the airport and they jumped into a taxicab and on their way to the hotel the couple asked the driver if he would please stop off at the Home Depot. And they ran out and came back with a roll of bubble wrap. And they literally bubble-wrapped their hotel room to protect their 2-year-old toddler!

Crabmommy: [makes horrified noises about the bubble-wrappers...as though I had never done a single over-protective thing in my sensible career as a mother]

HEM: That's what anxiety does. Whether you bubble-wrap the child or the room, there's no psychic space anymore for trust. Every corner of the psyche has to be filled up with anxiety—

C: What your book does so well is to point out that extra caution doesn't make the world a safer or a better place for your child.

HM: No!

C: Because if you breed that kind of fear-based thing in them from the very beginning—making them believe that everything they do is terribly dangerous—they won't be able to embrace failure and learn from it, or take risks in their life, or do anything that departs from a very safe plan.

HEM: Exactly.

C: As you say, psychologists are now seeing record numbers of kids that can't cope with ordinary college stresses or can't really think for themselves—

HEM: Right.

C: But where I connected to your book, as the mom of a young child, is where you talk about play. When you have little children, you often find yourself negotiating in play dates and getting very involved in what the children are doing. And I think your book is suggesting that moms should back off, let the kids work it out.

HEM: Absolutely. One of the origins for this book was a day when I was out jogging and I passed the playground where my kids had spent many hours and so had I when they were growing up—and I don't like to use my experience as the touchstone, but my experience is a generational one here. When my kids were little we would take our kids to the playground and the parents would sit on the perimeter. We stayed on the park benches and we let the kids play and we actually didn't get involved until the kids came crying to us: "Jason pushed me off the bike," or someone's feelings were hurt. We were too busy talking abut our own lives, and maybe about our kids. But what happened on that particular day when I was jogging: I was passing the playground—it was a Sunday—and all these fathers were out with their kids. And what struck me so was that the parents weren't sitting on the perimeter. They were totally in there with the kids. It was as many parents playing as there were kids playing. And I was struck by that. And I began observing it again and again. And I thought this change had occurred in which the parents were kind of co-playing with the kids, directing the kids...that struck me as a really big change, a tremendous—

C:—a serious trend.

HEM: Yes, a serious trend with very powerful effects, even though on the surface of it people may not understand the psychological ramifications of such a simple act. Play and how kids play is really very important.

C: You're talking about free play, where they can just be in their own world without adults helping them negotiate or figure out—

HEM: Right. The key thing that happens in free play—there are lots of things that happen. But if you just imagine free play...how old is your daughter?

C: Almost four.

HEM: So you've probably seen this with her and her friends. Let's say they decide to play house. They make up the roles and the rules and then here's the really key part: they subordinate their own impulses to the rules that they have just made up. And you don't know this because they don't do this when the adults are around. When the adults are around they turn over the communication to the adults. That's what kids do. This is the great secret of play: kids learn how to control their own impulses. This is the source of emotion regulation; this is the source of attention regulation. In addition, physical play stimulates brain growth, stimulates the growth of the frontal cortex which is the area of the brain that is responsible for executive function, for emotion control, and attention regulation...so play is really vitally important. Plus you learn to be nimble, you learn to read ambiguity. It's kind of a cognitive high-wire act.

C: There's this part of the book where you talk about the phrase "child's play" and you speak about child's play as something we dismiss.

HEM: To adults play looks like a waste of time. And to kids it's extremely important.

C: To the point that there are psychologists theorizing that a lot of teenagers diagnosed with attention deficit disorders might actually just be—

HEM: —play deprived.

C: Play-deprived children. Can you explain that theory?

HEM: There's considerable evidence for it. And I don't think parents are particularly receptive to it. They'd much rather, somehow, give their kid a drug.

C: And just to clarify, the idea is that by over-scheduling children, and watching over them, directing them and so forth, the idea—outlandish or true as it may be—is that their brains rebel against that at some point, because they haven't been able to just do nothing, and just be.

HEM: Right. And it's not so much that their brains rebel against it; they haven't stimulated that portion of the brain that develops in response to play. They haven't had the experience of regulating themselves through free play, so their circuits of attention are not developed. And we know from studies that attention can be trained. And so play is one of the ways that attention gets trained. And it's so counter-intuitive to adults. Many would rather just give a pill when their kids can't pay attention. And I find it unbelievable that people would give a pill to young kids whose brains are still developing. And nobody knows what the long-term impact of these drugs is on brains, and some of the evidence that there is, is really not fantastic. And I find it amazing that adults are more willing to accept the mechanical or mechanistic solution than the behavioral one.

C: There's a wild bit in the book where you cite a well-regarded psychologist who prescribes for these ADD-type boys intense bouts of roughhousing with their fathers, to offer some experimental antidote to medication. I guess with some kids it seems to really work, that just by fooling around in intensive ways their brains resettle and learn how to do those things in free play that you say are restricted by the way we raise kids these days.

HEM: The fooling around contains important ingredients. Fooling around involves social engagement and touching; these are the mechanisms by which the play, shall we say, gets transmitted into the brain...There's this physical contact, this physical activity, and it's highly motivating. But to kids its just fun; they don't know their brains are being built by it. So, concealed under all this fooling around there's some very serious brain growth going on.

Okay, so I have a bit more of the interview, which I will post at a later stage. Needless to say (for the thousandth time), I think Nation of Wimps is an important parenting book for our times. A wake-up call for people like those twits who need grief counseling when their kids go off to camp. And for the rest of us too. But what do you think? Does any of this ring true for you and/or the moms and dads in your orbit? Let's convo seriously this week and then I'll go back to posting pix of George Michael and the like as a reward!

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I find all of this annoying. Imagine, being horrified to find fathers playing with their children at the park. It doesn't say here--where is her evidence that the fathers at the park are paranoid freaks? Maybe they just enjoy playing with their children? I feel like there's a lot of motive missing from her analysis. There's so much more to all of this.
Say, just for the sake of conversation, that my next door neighbors are always running to the bus stop at the last minute (literally flagging down the bus half the time) and the other neighbors on our block send their kids to different schools. Am I now expected to introduce myself to random strangers and leave my 5 year old with people neither of us know? And it's some kind of sign of pathology that I walk my 5-year old to the bus stop? That's insane. I'm putting him on a bus with people I don't know, right? Isn't that "good" in her eyes? Isn't the bus building enough character so I can be excused for not leaving my child with strangers? I find her critique just annoying, not piercing.

Yes, there are extremes, obviously, but I haven't heard much sense from her, yet.

And, yes, there is some absurdity to the "playdate" concept. But...what is supposed to happen? Is my 5 year old to arrange his own schedule? No, because I'm supposed to be in charge, right? If we already have plans, we already have plans because I'm the boss. So he doesn't get to decide that.

The whole thing makes me grumpy in a finger-pointing kind of way. She doesn't know why they bought the bubble wrap. Maybe their daughter had some kinds of balance issues or they'd had a problem before. Who knows. I think the bubble wrap is ridiculous, but I didn't have a daughter who banged her head on coffee table corners, so it doesn't really matter what I think.

Did she follow kids from sandbox to college? That's the only way I'd believe anything--I went to college with plenty of f'ed up people whose parents sat on park benches when they were 3. I find it hard to believe her when she says things are apocolyptically worse because of the things she cites.
I think we should all relax, let ourselves be, and find joy in the dads playing at the park. Why not get some exercise (for body & soul) while we're there, too? Why not get the adults playing--why is that such a bad thing?
jmho of course!

Two Mittens said...

I totally agree that kids need their own time and space to play and imagine and even get hurt sometimes. And I also agree that parents have a job to do (care for and teach) and kids have a job to do (play).
Parents certainly should interact with their kids and give them attention, but also some space and unstructured time. At any age.
Plus, I spend all day with my kids. I need them to be able to play on their own.
Maybe that's the difference...???

Oddly enough my husband (who claims that kids are too coddled and protected these days) is the one who gets overprotective. That stressed me out the most.
It's harder for some people to give up that control!

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I kind of find this all very UNHELPFUL.

First of all, while it may be entertaining to trash on the parents who bubble-wrapped their hotel room -- that seems absurd -- I don't get how parents should then (according to the author) go about making sensible choices about real dangers.

For example, following from HEM's statement: "Because if you breed that kind of fear-based thing in them from the very beginning... they won't be able to embrace failure and learn from it," you could argue that it's fear-based parenting to make your kid wear a bike helmet.

I mean, how's she ever going to learn about failure if she doesn't have the opportunity to crack her head on the sidewalk, right? What is the difference, functionally speaking, between a bubble-wrapped coffee table and a bike helmet?

I would be pretty surprised if she were to make such a ridiculous claim, but then again, it would be silly to make the kid wear a helmet everywhere and all the time, so where do you draw the line? I mean, is it wrong to put foam corners on a glass coffee-table? It seems to me you can argue that having the foam corners on there means that the kid can have rougher horseplay, whereas without the foam corners you have to be all like "don't run in the living room." Or is she arguing that the latter is the better scenario and that the kid will then learn a valuable lesson when they do run in the living room and then jab themselves with the corner of the coffee table? Would that end up making the kid more or less fearful of failure?

I get the part where 'free-play' is vitally important to the kid's socialization and other areas of psychological development, but does that mean I'm an asshole for painting with her once or twice a week? I mean, are we never supposed to play with our kids? And when we do, are we supposed to pretend we are some other kind of people with different personalities than we currently have?

Incidentally, I do totally agree with her stand against medicating ADD and the like.

I buy that parents and can be both co-dependent and over-protective. I have difficulty believing that there really is hard science to back up HEM's claims, specifically that there is a strong correlation between a parenting style that I think is only vaguely defined here, if at all, and an inability to cope among the newly independent young adults who are the recipients of said parenting. I have even more difficulty seeing how this is supposed to be instructive in a useful way to any real parent who is making decisions about how to play with their kids. Rather, it seems designed to make parents even more doubtful, reticent and anxious than they already are.

crabmommy said...

Hi anonymouses (is that a new noun?:)
I appreciate your posts here. And I definitely see your points of view. I think perhaps this blog/interview format misrepresents the message of the book somewhat. It's very hard to distil the author's ideas (it's a meaty, statistically heavy book) into blog posts. I should have done a better job of conveying some of the statistics and the cases discussed.

At any rate, I agree with the second anon who says there's a fine line between safety and overprotection. It's a point well made. I don't think this author is dissing bike helmets. Nor even is she necessarily dissing those who use coffee table corner-pads. Indeed, as anon2 says, such things can make rougher play more rather than less possible. I also don't think she is trying to stop us all from painting with our kids or having dads go to playgrounds. It's more a case of analyzing the mindset that leads us to go too far in our desire to make our kids' lives safe and pleasant and at the center of everything we do in our lives.

For my part, in the past I felt I used to be overly involved in how my little girl played with her friends and her toys or whatever. I think a highly involved style of parenting is the norm, at least in my middle/upper-middle class culture, so I feel I hopped onto a bandwagon when it came to that. I also think some of us might not even want to do some of the many protective/hyper-involved things we do with our kids, but maybe we feel coerced somehow--like anything less is neglectful. I think at its best and most useful, this book asks us to ask these questions of ourselves, if nothing else, and see whether maybe there are ways in which we're inhibiting our children unnecessarily (and making our own parental jobs tougher in the process).

The Boss of You said...

Just a thought that popped into my head. I have a 17 month old and I can already see this with the more fearful parents of her peers. What strikes me is that (without intending to be so) their attitude is a little insulting to the child. They're not really aware of what the child can do.

Take the slide (really sophisticated topic). My kid's been an avid slider since 9 months, but since then parents are surprised that I let it happen so early and that I don't go down with her. I guess I thought, oh, that's what kids do they go down and (if allowed) up slides. It didn't occur to me that there was an appropriate age for it so if she crawled up and figured out how to go down, well, then nine months must be the right age, but as recently as a month ago I saw a mother of an almost two-year-old go down a slide my kid can do in her sleep. At what point will the kid be allowed to try it on his own?

You see this on the Supernanny type shows all the time. The episode I think of is one where six-year-old twins were still using sippy cups. The parents had *no idea* their children could use regular cups at this age. (Added note: they were also homeschooling their kids, so you can just imagine the standards held up for their academics, if cup usage was held as an advanced personal skill.)

As for playground stuff, I am still figuring that out, but my child is still pretty much the youngest one there. She does not know how to share, so I do find myself forcing the sharing upon her esp. when she co-opts another kid's toy.

The Boss of You said...

And another thing!

It strikes me that a lot of high-maintenance parenting is about process and not results (not my original thought, I found it on a blog called mainstream parenting) and it seems that all these things that one can do to complicate a child's life (and dull his psyche) is about process. I have never cared for process much as I think it slows down progress, but there are those out there (city of Seattle anyone?) who just love it and nothing gets done. It could be that a bunch of OCD process types are just taking over the parenting culture and we results people gotta push back.

Alexis said...

I am so going out to get this book at the library tomorrow! This topic really touches a nerve, for some reason.

While I see pp's points about the fine line between hovering and being responsible, I think the bigger point here seems to be about living in a culture of fear. I could go on and on about how this manifests in the culture at large (esp. in the political arena), but I think we all kind of sense it. To some degree, I think it's important to examine the choices we make for our children and ourselves (whether to get the organic O's or the name-brand ones; whether it's more progressive-minded to get the American Apparel, non-sweatshop onesies or the made in China organic ones), but when our prime motivator is fear, we really do our children a disservice.

Also, while it's cute to see dads playing on the playground, I don't think we can dismiss what the author is saying about the importance of child's play. I find this the most disturbing trend of all--trying to direct our children's imaginations. Creepy.

Anonymous said...

I am living in France and at playgrounds here (in middle class neighborhoods) it is common to find the parents on the perimeter, talking to each other. Our daughter goes to the playground with her nanny twice a day when all the other nannies and kids are there and the nannies COLLECTIVELY look out for all the kids. But when I go to the playground with my daughter on weekends I feel guilty if I sit and watch. I feel that because I am not spending time with her during the week when I am at work, I should be interacting with her more on weekends.

Anonymous said...

(anon1 here)
I think the thing about it being creepy when parents play with their kids in parks is interesting. I actually don't go to the park that much with my kids anymore (though I used to!) but my husband does, and it's one of the really nice things they do together--and yes, they're doing imaginative play, and the stories all come from the kids (believe me, my husband couldn't make these things up). I love it--I think it's so great for all of them. And to think now i have to worry about other people looking at them playing and thinking it's pathological. (just kidding, I'm not really going to worry about that.)

I agree--it's good to think about these things, sure. I am not convinced of her "we're ruining our 20-somethings" argument, I guess.

I think that definitely all kids should learn to play by themselves/entertain themselves (w/o the tv or computer) and also learn how to play with other children of varying ages without adult supervision. So I think we can all agree about that?

But I guess I also think that play can be good for adults--I love seeing my friends on the floor playing with groups of kids--and that it's not such a bad thing to whip out the paints and paint with your kid or get into the fort with them once in awhile.

anyway--who knew I would end up being crabbier than crabmommy!!
Love your blog btw.

Anonymous said...

A lot of this sounds to me like an excuse to put other parents down and prop yourselves up. Wow - your kid was sliding at 9 months, well I was letting my kid roll down the slide when she was 5 months old. And she was eating Thai food and putting marbles in her mouth. Now who's more bad-ass?

I've been thinking about the so-called 'culture of fear' for many years now, and I agree it's an epidemic, but that phrase can also a little trite. At what point exactly is a person directing their child's imagination, I would like to know. If I tell you a silly made-up story, I am in effect 'directing your imagination' aren't I? I'm prompting you with a series of ideas that are meant to structure your imagination into a story of my invention. So is it creepy to tell stories?

My problem is with the vagueness of all this. I have to agree that child's play is important, that kids need to be able to find things out on their own, that parents need to give them the space to make mistakes and so on, but this here seems like a big excuse to draw the line wherever we feel puts us on the right side of it and put down everyone who isn't.

The Boss of You said...

Anon1: It sounds like you really need to read the book to understand it more deeply, though I think that the interview makes clear that adults playing with children is great, but managing, no, micromanaging play is a problem. If, after reading the book, you still protest, then you should probably go with your all-adult-play-all-the-time mode which is more comfortable for you. The author makes clear that there could be some unforeseen fallout from that down the line, but there is a pill your child could take.

As for the second anon, well, I was using the slide thing as an example of how I see this starting at such a young age. You can agree or disagree respectfully, but your response to it is insulting and obtuse. Your brand of comment is best received on a Babycenter birth board. You could even do a poll about how much everyone else agrees with your POV. To the topic at hand, if you want to play your clever imagination game, go ahead so long as your kid has time do his or her own that doesn't involve you, because, well, it's not about you.

Alexis said...

TO clarify, I don't think it's creepy when dads play with their kids, I think it's creepy when people try to stage manage their children's imaginations.

I'm looking forward to more pics of George Michael with gross facial hair!

Anonymous said...

Anon 2 here, who also made the comments about the slide:
I don't think I was being obtuse. Actually I think I was being pretty direct. Sorry if you find it insulting, but I still think that you sound like you're trying to prove something about your parenting style.

I don't think anyone in any of these comments has advocated "all-adult-play-all-the-time". I don't think anyone has advocated medicating kids with pills, and your suggestion that Anon1 do so is, I think, far more insulting than anything I've said. In effect you're saying "get with the program or your kid will be f*cked up, and since you don't care about them anyway, you'll probably end up dosing them on Ritalin." Nice.

I don't know what you mean by "clever imagination game," but I can only guess that you're referring to the analogy that I drew between story-telling and this so-called 'managed imagination' problem. The point I'm trying to make is that you can make a statement about how managing or micro-managing your child's play or imagination is creepy or wrong or whatever, but what's the point, because NOBODY here wants to do that, and I'd guess nobody thinks they are doing that. So the result of making such claims (in my opinion) is really just to provoke even more anxiety in parents about whether they are playing with their kids in the best possible way, which apparently means YOUR way.

And that's the kind of trend that I've always thought Crabmommy was about taking down (Baby Einstein, anyone?)

I've said my piece -- anything more at this point is just beating a dead horse. I agree with Crabmommy that we should all be conscious of these issues and try to recognize our own actions for what they are, but only if there's a positive result to it. If you want to know, I give my kid plenty of time to do her own thing, and to play with other kids. She's also in pre-school for 8 hours a day, socializing with other kids and doing creative play. So it's not like I'm advocating the so-called "hothouse parenting" "snowplow parenting", or "pasteurized parenting," but that's just my point -- I don't know anyone who does. There will always be people who represent the extreme of a behavior -- bubble-wrapping their hotel room, but hardly anyone is like that. So these new societal evils (which are always really euphemisms for supposedly evil people) seem to me like straw dogs.

The Boss of You said...

Anon2: you protest too much. You were quite direct, you think I am trying to prove something. It's your assessment that is obtuse. My point is that I didn't know when kids started sliding, but plenty of nervous nellies are running around who have it on their schedule. Don't believe me? I just had a conversation where someone told me it was an 18-24 month skill, OK, great. A.)I don't have the time or the inclination to get the book that tells me that. B.) did the parent put off letting the kid try out even if he was ready? or is mom pushing it now that he's the right age even if the child isn't ready? Neither scenario is very respectful of the kid as a person. To the extent I am trying to prove anything THAT is what I am trying to prove.

Of course, no one is advocating hot house parenting as a package that wouldn't sell, but organized play dates instead of let a kid be to do there own thing for a while; all the classes at an early age, why, yes, I'll sign up for Mandarin for the non-verbal set, makes a lot of sense; and get that GPS system for your kid that is currently advertised on television basically adds up to just that. Piece by piece parents are buying into what no one would want in the whole package. The author basically says as much in the interview when people she talks to do concede that all this is unnecessary, because they didn't have it and they turned out OK.

Anonymous said...

To 'The Boss of You':
I swore I wouldn't post again, but I can't help myself. You say that the parent shouldn't schedule their kids' sliding or whatever according to some timetable, but in your first comment you said:

"as recently as a month ago I saw a mother of an almost two-year-old go down a slide my kid can do in her sleep. At what point will the kid be allowed to try it on his own?"

So right there, you've decided that the two year old is ready and that that mother is messing the whole thing up. What if the kid was disabled in some way? Or what if *gasp* the mother was just goofing around that one time? But nevermind all that, here you are passing judgement on them, and worse, making a public spectacle of it on this here blog.

And before you say it, let me be the first to admit that I did the exact same thing with the bubble-wrap example.

You say about the timetable for kids' physical development:
"I don't have the time or the inclination to get the book that tells me that."

but you ALSO say that we need to read A Nation of Wimps to avoid making these mistakes that you're pointing out.

So let me get this straight: there are some books I do need to read to be a better parent and some that I don't have to, and you are the person who will tell me which is which?

Well, I don't need you or that book to tell me that what's wrong with using a GPS tacking device on my daughter.

But that's not really the main thing. The main thing is that I find it offensive when people jump on the band wagon to find some new measure for assessing other parents' failures. If you don't feel that applies to you, then fine -- that's for you to decide. I came on this forum originally with the intention of just making that point, and I figure that by now I have.

Incidentally, in your reference to Hamlet you are basically accusing me of lying. Is that your intention? If so, I'd like to know where you think I have lied and on what grounds you would make such a claim.

Anonymous said...

Just one more thing:
Some of you claim to be rebelling against a culture of fear, and your justification for that is that the result is a drug addled preteen who will become a substance-abusing self-mutilator in college (check out HEM in Psychology Today). What you are failing to see is that with this book and the conversation that surrounds it you are really just trading one kind of fear-mongering for another.

Here's William S. Burroughs while we're in the business of quoting:
"Thanks for a country where nobody's allowed to mind the own business."

Anonymous said...

(sorry - "...their own business")

The Boss of You said...

Anon2: You are spiraling out of control and you're the one making a public spectacle by posting when you said you wouldn't. I know the kid going down the slide, I see him all the time, he's not disabled and shame on you for suggesting I would make fun of that. His mother admits to being over-protective, she thinks that the reason he doesn't speak so well is that he doesn't need to because she anticipates his every desire. She wasn't just being goofy going down that slide. Maybe the kid's ready, maybe he's not, but we don't know because his mother doesn't let him try stuff out. It is very hard to get through to you because you are purposely trying to misunderstand my point. At first you thought I was trying to prove something, then you thought I was making fun. You just don't get it.

But that's not unusual for you. Both you and the first anon confused the points the author was making in the interview acting as if her assertions were baseless. Crabmommy explained in her response that the book backed up the author's comments with detailed studies, so maybe it would help your understanding if you read the book. This is unrelated to the fact that I don't want to read a book on toddler development.

You think that the author doesn't want you to tell your tot a story, when she is trying to make a larger point. Can you see that?

With respect to the culture of fear, your analysis is flawed. I am not afraid of molly-coddled children, just sad for them. See, the fear that causes you to bubble wrap your kid is baseless. On the other hand the consequences are documented and measurable.

To draw a touchy analogy (which I know you are not very good with, but I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt), people do not vaccinate their children because they have an unproven fear that they cause autism. It doesn't matter how much reasoned scientific literature and statistical analysis you go over with them, they still know some vague story about someone who completely changed after their vaxes and that's the important information. The anecdote not the data. Now, thanks to this irrational, albeit completely human, behavior my area has had a measles outbreak and a pertussis outbreak in the past three months. Both of these diseases can have long term side-effects, proven scientific fact. They were so pernicious that people thought it a service to try to eradicate them.

It's not swapping one fear for another. It's saying your fear is irrational and your response to it has consequences.

The Boss of You said...

Crabmommy--

On the flip side of all this, or maybe hand-in-hand, I find that there's a lot of testing going on. People like to share a lot about the testing, whether it's for superiority or delays. Like, once we get this test done, we'll really know what to do. Just an observation.

Anonymous said...

Wow - now it sounds like it's getting personal. I don't molly-coddle or bubble wrap my kid; I'm not afraid of knee scrapes, vaccines or any of that other rot. I can see the larger point.

I don't think that she doesn't want me to tell a story - that would be absurd. I think that I see people making broad generalizations (ie. "managing imagination") that can be taken to mean anything.

I am not saying YOU are afraid of molly-coddled kids (how could you be when you are so obviously superior as a parent), I am saying that you seem to support the notion that others should be afraid of the consequences of playing with their kids in the wrong way, whatever that means. You want to instill fear and apprehension in others. That is what fear mongering is. These are your words:

"It's saying your fear is irrational and your response to it has consequences."

That right there says it all. Ominous consequences attend to these irrational fears (which, as I've repeatedly said I do not harbor myself) of mine.

Thanks for the heads up on that one. Wait, I forgot about the fact that these consequences have been scientifically documented.

So has the incidence of head injuries in children who don't wear bike helmets.

Now I'm asking a pointed question: Is it or is it not molly-coddling or otherwise failing as a parent if one puts a bike helmet on the child? The first paragraph of HEM's piece in Psychology Today:

"Maybe it's the cyclist in the park, trim under his sleek metallic blue helmet, cruising along the dirt path... at three miles an hour. On his tricycle."

So what's the implication of that, exactly? Are you going to claim that bike helmets are worn because of a baseless fear of head injuries from bike accidents?

So I may sound like I'm going off the deep end, drawing analogies that stretch plausibility, but I really don't think that they are disconnected from the real claims that are being made in the name of science here.

You seem to be convinced that I fall into this category of parents who are overprotective and overly involved in their kids' play. I suppose there's no good reason for me to lose sleep over disabusing you of that notion, but I also think that it's possible to fall into the category of well-adjusted parents who do not go over the deep end in the way that's being described here, and yet have doubts that they struggle with every day. It's not helpful to have the likes of you looking over one's shoulder. But look all you like, I'm not a Wimp. I can take it.

The Boss of You said...

Anon2: how can this possibly be personal you are anonymous and I am 'the boss of you'? I don't care really, I just think you keep missing the point of this interview and the author's book. You admitted to bubble wrapping, now you don't whatever. Now go tell your kid a story and make a nice game to go a long with it.

For anyone else I finally found this article that this interview reminded me of, the discussion about the importance of self-regulation was pretty apropos to some of the interview's points:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19212514

Daisy said...

The concept is bound to be controversial, and controversy is good. It makes us think and examine our methods. My first-hand experiences with uber-parenting happen in my job. I'm a teacher, and helicopter parents just need to hover elsewhere! There's a big difference between supporting a child and smothering him. From the taste you've given, this book sounds fascinating.