Monday, December 9, 2013

Case Study To Prove Helicopter Parenting Is Bad For Your Kids

I am not a scientist or psychologist, but I do pay a lot of attention.  More on that later.

One of Matt's colleagues graciously invited our family to her son's birthday party.  He was celebrating his 4th birthday at a climbing, sliding, and swinging place.  It was a bit out of town, but we knew the kids would enjoy the physical activity.  

I've been to these kinds of places before.  I know what they are all about:
  • Kids screaming
  • Kids tattling
  • Parents disciplining other people's kids 
  • Kids crying
  • Germs
Hey, it wasn't about me.  My kids would thoroughly enjoy an adventure of their own today, and I had a fresh bottle of Purell in my bag.  Another bonus of the venue location - they got to ride on another train line.  So the family navigated up to King's Cross/St. Pancras station to get on the First Capital Connect up to the venue.

The layout of the venue was as expected: the climbing structures on one side and tables & seating for parents on the other.  The kids quickly doffed their coats and shoes and started playing.  

Back to my opening statement - I am not a scientist or psychologist, but I do pay a lot of attention.  In the three and a half hours at the party a paradigm shift occurred.  Past performance is not indicative to today's adventure.  
  • Kids screaming - Yes but at a tolerable level on par with their play enjoyment
  • Kids tattling - NONE!
  • Parents disciplining other people's kids - NONE!
  • Kids crying - One girl cried because she got hit by a piece of equipment, but she worked through her tears by herself and returned to playing.  
  • Germs - duh
Here's my non-medically trained opinion on this - helicopter parenting is an unknown phenomenon on this side of the Atlantic.  They are actually almost opposite of this.  I have regularly seen parents pushing childless strollers at the mall and museums while their child zips ahead (sometimes a bit too far for my liking).  I get the sense that both parent and child have an understanding of each other's location, and both parties are OK with this.  A little freedom for the kids is a good thing.  

My new list of events that occur at the climbing, sliding, swinging place:
  • parents relax with a cappuccino from the cafe
  • kids play, play, and come tell mom and dad the amazing feat they just accomplished
  • kids work out conflicts or don't have any
  • everyone leaves content
  • decontamination chamber when you arrive home
I won't say it out loud, but I might actually go back some time.  

That is if my Purell stash is full :)

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