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WWL: Helicopter Parents
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
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In this episode:

Is so-called “Helicopter Parenting” a sign of concern in a scary world?


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42:07 minutes (20.22 MB)
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This program originally aired on Januray 28.2010.

Is so-called “Helicopter Parenting” a sign of concern in a scary world? Or is it creating a “Nation of Wimps?”

Today, parents have the option of leashes for their children, baby kneepads to cut down on scrapes and scratches…and for older kids, backpacks complete with GPS monitoring. Children are sheltered from germs and over-burdened with tutoring and extra-curricular activities. And with the prevalence of cell phones, parents can always be in touch. It’s called “Helicopter Parenting”, and while some parents say it’s a necessary reaction in today’s society, others worry that over-parenting is harmful to kids…turning them into adults who can’t think or act by themselves.


Related Content:

Stats undermine intended point

I am opposed to helicopter parenting, and try to avoid it.  But the stats quoted by guest expert Stephanie Coontz undermine the point you were trying to make.  She points out that risk of death to children and teenagers has declined dramatically from the 50s to now.  A logical conclusion would be that the increase in more involved parenting has protected children, not that the world happens to be randomly safer so we can now send children out into it with less worry.   


Hi, I'm Jennifer from the Dan and Jennifer discussion on facebook that you brought up this morning. I wanted to comment, in part, because I was misquoted. You said that I thought Ms. Skenazy should be thrown in jail for allowing her 9 year old to ride the subway. In fact, I specifically stated "I don't think she should be tossed in jail, but I disagree with her choices" earlier in the discussion. You also took my comments way out of context, implying that I think for a 9 year old getting soda from the soda machine will teach independence. I was referring to my own child, who is only 5, and the small things you can do to teach a child of his age self sufficiency. I also found it interesting that Ms. Skenazy would judge me (perhaps jokingly, I don't know for sure) for allowing my child to drink soda, clearly because I think that she takes her philosophy to the extreme. Sure, I agree that children do not need their hands held throughout life - which is why I also stated that I don't help my kid the first time he asks for something. Sure, I agree that young adults who are overly sheltered as children end up lost in the world. But I do not agree that letting your child ride the subway is the best - or only - way to make for a well adjusted adult. My parents didn't allow me to do whatever I attempted to convince them I was ready for, and yet somehow I managed to grow up not simply the opposite of timid, but ambitious and accomplished (I moved out of their house at 18, went to college, got married, went to law school, had a baby, passed the bar, got a job, got divorced, bought a house on a single income). And I let my child do things that other parents might not. He rock climbs - but with a harness and experienced climbers. He rides his bike in our court while I'm not watching 100% of the time - but he wears a helmet. I'm taking him snowboarding next weekend, where he'll undoubtedly leave my parental grasp - but I'll leave him in the care of a teacher - and he'll be wearing a helmet then too. If that makes me a helicopter parent, then so be it. But I don't agree that letting your 9 year old ride the subway in NYC is anything like letting go of the handlebars in the suburbs.



This is John.  Didn't mean to misquote...just got the topline of the comment, and read it too fast.  I think she's pretty used to people who want to throw her in jail anyway.  Anyway - my apologies, and I appreciate your thoughtful comments.