I ask this in all honesty.  It seems that parents have become increasingly protective in theory…but in practice, many seem to expect everyone else to look out for what their kids are watching, listening to, doing, and so forth.  Now,  I do think that a parent has every right to decide what is acceptable for his or her child…but it’s not anyone else’s duty to enforce those ideals.  Parents need to know what sorts of things come into contact with their children, and if they can’t be bothered to do so, that seems to say that they aren’t REALLY all that concerned about their child’s/children’s exposure to whatever it is.  At least not concerned enough to actually, you know, put EFFORT into something.



Yes, there are a lot of influences out there.  There have ALWAYS been a lot of influences “out there.”  “Out there” has been giving parents grief since the beginning of time, which makes the whole “out there” argument a bit silly.


I always thought methods of “enforcing” R movie ratings were over the top.  An ID check at the counter, sometimes a police officer checking licenses again at the door to the actual theater…I mean, I’m here to see Law Abiding Citizen, not to fly to Pakistan.  So no, ticket taker, I did not bring my passport so that you have yet one more document to glare at because you don’t think my license photo looks like me.  No, it really didn’t occur to me to dig through my things to find a passport to go out on a Friday night.  Shocking.


Well, parents are worried about their kids seeing R-rated movies, and apparently they’re worried enough that they’ve put the movie theater one step down from the airport in terms of security checks.  And why, exactly, could you not make sure that your child actually bought a ticket for the latest Disney flick on your own?  You could hang around at the theater until your kid actually buys the ticket.  You could buy the ticket for him or her yourself and put it into his or her hand.  Granted, there are ways kids can get around these things if they want to see R-rated movies badly enough, but there are ways around pretty much ANY “safety measure” when it comes to “enforcing” ratings systems, including the ridiculous system that’s been implemented in various theaters presumably to ease parents’ minds.


Whether or not R-rated movies are actually damaging is another issue entirely, and I’m just going to leave that out for now.  Anyway, now parents want someone to come up with yet ANOTHER rating system for ANOTHER form of entertainment – live concerts.  And why, pray tell, are they worried?




Because Lady Gaga is evil and will give your children TEH GAY.


Okay, that’s probably not the real reason.  But parents are suddenly demanding concert ratings systems despite the fact that Lady Gaga, their current prime example of “THINK OF THE CHILDREN,” puts on concerts no racier than could be seen with Britney Spears as the performer.


That’s not really the point, of course, although the timing is ridiculous.  The point is that apparently, parents are now too lazy to find out who Lil’ Wayne IS before they let little Suzie bike on down to the arena to watch his show.  I understand that you might not be, you know, keeping up with the kids on what’s hip and cool or whatever, but at the very least look the artist up if you’re worried about what your child’s innocent eyes might observe.   Can’t you spare fifteen minutes for that?


Sure, you may consider this piece a rant, but the fact remains that overprotective parenting is bad for children, and it’s bad for people as a collective.  Children have been shown to be maturing much more slowly in an emotional sense, and people are far more likely to grow up with deep-seated anxieties.  Because parents are shielding their children from more and more things seen as questionable, kids aren’t becoming independent as quickly, and they’re less able to handle real life issues on their own.  Life isn’t all happy things and unicorns; kids need to learn how to fend for themselves.  I’m not saying you should throw your children into a piranha tank or anything, but parents do need to take a step back sometimes.  It can be hard, I’m sure, but in the end, kids need to learn how to solve their own problems because that’s what they’ll be doing once they leave the nest.



These things can be measured quantitatively, too.  It’s not simply perception.  According to “A Nation of Wimps” (Hara Marano), the statistics are a bit shocking:


Using the classic benchmarks of adulthood, 65 percent of males had reached adulthood by the age of thirty in 1960. By contrast, in 2000, only 31 percent had. Among women, 77 percent met the benchmarks of adulthood by age 30 in 1960. By 2000, the number had fallen to 46 percent. 


 Kids end up with crappy social skills far more often….and they’re more likely to develop psychiatric disorders.  Essentially, despite my firm belief that the sharp incline in psychiatric diagnoses is more related to increased awareness and paranoia, there actually HAS been an increase in psychiatric issues in children, though it probably isn’t as great as the simplest statistics seem to imply.  Then, of course, there’s the well-documented strong chance of backlash once the kid leaves for college.  Kids are so used to being shielded from danger that they end up making even worse choices.  They’re suddenly around all of these new things, but now the new things are ACTUALLY dangerous. 


Children are less motivated to stand out from their groups.  The pressure to be “average” is much stronger, and the rewards for being exceptional are dwindling.  Parents may be overprotecting their kids out of amazing things no matter how much they try to nurture intelligence.  As adults, these people don’t feel it’s their own responsibility to take care of themselves.  


Geek parents have the awesome opportunity to create an environment that encourages their kids’ eccentricities and lets them explore their interests.  This same environment can help to offset the social issues typically associated with geekdom, too.  Kids of geeks can easily grow up to be far more comfortable in their own skins, but it depends heavily on the ability to let go.


Parents, I know it’s tough to see your baby having nightmares.  I know you want to keep him or her from anything negative.  The thing is, bad things happen in life, and in many cases, having bad things happen can be beneficial overall….even for adults.  Your child is going to run into tough times, and at some point, he or she will need to decide what’s appropriate.  And when that happens, he or she will be much better off if you’d looked the other way when that R-rated movie was playing and then let him or her deal with the subsequent nightmares because she has an overactive imagination and is now convinced that aliens are taking over her family’s bodies and plotting to conquer the world.  Not that I speak from experience, or anything.


Let your kids skin their knees.  In the long run, it’s worth much more than the price of the Band-Aids.