April 13, 2012 at 8:07 AM ET
Given the lengths so-called helicopter parents will go to protect their children, one would think an actual helicopter blade were hurtling toward their sheltered offspring. I suspect the stress caused by parents’ fears might harm kids more than the occasional stitch-worthy gash, or bump on the head.
Case in point: crawling helmets.
Seems some parents are so concerned about the rate at which their babies are ambling about the living room that they are purchasing crawling helmets for their high velocity tots. (No, these aren't helmets for head-shaping or other medical needs; they're just to protect babies from hitting their heads while doing normal baby activities.) If your baby can’t face the rigors of crawling, how will your toddler learn to walk? Will your Kindergartener ever ride a bike? I guess you can forget about contact sports, driving, and frat parties.
The sales pitch for the crawling helmet includes mention of hardwood and tile floors, implying that responsible parents protect defenseless children from these horrors. I am not one of those responsible parents. I left my newborn daughter alone on the sofa cushion with her 2-year-old brother standing guard. Neither wore helmets. Twenty seconds later I’m watching my toddler son pull his baby sister by the feet onto the wood floor, where her little head took quite a blow.
That’s it, I thought, I’ve killed my baby.
And yet, she was okay. No blood, no broken anything, no brain damage. This kind of incident might prompt some parents to buy a crawler helmet. To me it just proves they aren’t necessary. Seriously, twelve years later, my daughter scores well on standardized tests. We’re fine.
Fear breeds fear, so let’s all take a deep breath, shall we?
Some other things we can probably stop worrying about:
BPA: Plastic probably isn’t going to kill your kid. Not today, anyway. And if you’re so worried about packaging poisons, why are you feeding your child the kind of crap that comes in plastic containers?
Lascivious lyrics: Those rap dudes are only saying out loud what every other boy is thinking, or um… visualizing. Teach kids to respect one another, and let them think they’re getting away with something by listening to the dirty songs.
Salmonella: Oh, wait, that one’s real.
Blenders: Who is afraid of blenders? Apparently Alicia Silverstone is terrified of hers. Why else would she chew her son’s food for him? Granted, my Oster frightens the dog, but it’s great pureeing soups and veggies for babies. No spit required.
Where do you stand on the protection continuum? Free-range or squarely on the helicopter pad?
Lela Davidson is the author of Blacklisted from the PTA (Jupiter Press, imprint of Wyatt-MacKenzie, July 2011). Her writing is featured regularly in family and parenting magazines throughout the United States and Canada. She blogs about marriage, motherhood, and life-after-40 at After the Bubbly
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