United States

After Living Abroad, Kids Struggle With American Overparenting

In the home of the brave, a kid can't hold a pencil on the school bus.

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When Jean Phillipson's family returned to Fairfax, Virginia, after living in Bolivia, the main thing her 10-year-old son complained about was the bus ride home from school. "He wasn't allowed to have a pencil out," says the mom of three, "because it was considered unsafe."

Welcome back, kid, to the land of the outlandishly cautious.

I asked children and parents who'd lived both abroad and here in the States what struck them as the biggest difference. They all said it was the lack of childhood independence in America.

In Berlin, says Tully Comfort, an 11-year-old living there now, "me and my friends will meet up and go to the market and get something to eat on our own." But a year ago, when she was living in the U.S., "the parents had to always be around."

Tully and her family lived in Costa Rica and Mexico for six years before moving back to her mother's hometown of Montclair, New Jersey, when she was 7. "I enrolled her in public school and right away we came up against this lack of freedom," says Tully's mom, Julie Comfort. "They told me my daughter was not allowed to walk to school without an adult until middle school."

Back when she was her daughter's age, Julie says, "I used to walk with my friends in this same neighborhood." But since then, fear of strangers and liability issues have ossified into hard rules. Fed up, the Comforts moved to Berlin, a city Julie picked after vacationing there and seeing "a little kid, maybe 3 years old, riding his bike down the sidewalk, and his parents were way down the street, nonchalant."

Thirteen-year-old Molly Lukas lives in Germany now, too, after stints in Belgium, Austria, and metro D.C. Her dad is in the Foreign Service. Molly loved being around her extended family when she was back in the States about a year ago, but there were some annoyances. "One time I made plans with my friend to go to Chick-fil-A. My friend's mom had to drive us and she stayed there to make sure we were OK while we were eating." In Germany, on the other hand, "I bike to school every day—it's about 10 minutes away—and I can take the bus and trains alone."

"My daughter always says, 'Oh, I wish we could have more playdates like in Brazil!'" says Claudia Jorge, whose family of four recently relocated to Havertown, Pennsylvania. "Here we have to schedule them; there she just goes and knocks on the neighbor's door."

Tully, the 11-year-old, makes a similar observation about American playdates. "In New Jersey, the parents were watching us all the time. It was kind of weird."

Jenny Engleka raised her daughter in Mexico, Panama, and Germany before moving back to New Jersey a few years ago when the girl was 12. In Hamburg, she recalls, "kids are traveling all the time by themselves" starting at age 6 or 7. But here, children's activities are far more likely to be both structured and supervised. "Your weekends are filled up with soccer games. Even for kids that are mediocre players, they're still quite involved."

And once they're in a league, there isn't much wiggle room. You come, you play, mom drives you home. In Germany, says Molly, the 13-year-old, if someone wants to stay and keep playing lacrosse after practice has ended, she just does. "My sister's gotten a lot better at lacrosse since she's been able to go on her own time without bugging my parents about it."

If the coach is still around, sometimes she—or he!—will take the kid home.

Trust is still normal in most of the world. And something about that trust allows kids to expand. Abby Morton, who raised her kids in Thailand for two years while she and her husband worked there as teachers, still remembers the recycling project one of her sixth-grade students brought in. He'd taken some scrap metal and fashioned it into a working crossbow. "It could shoot a spear!" says Morton, now back in Boston. So she took the class outside and let them try it.

But in the home of the brave, a kid can't hold a pencil on the school bus.

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  1. American parent have to over parent or the state will arrest them for neglect, throw them in jail and take their kids away.

    1. That’s not close to universally true (yet). Maybe it’s the case in some places, but definitely not where I live among the people I know who have kids.

      1. I don’t know if it’s just reading Reason articles or what, but it’s always in the back of my mind. Everyone I talk to has a story of a funny look from a neighbor and then someone from the city/county/state knocking on their door three days later. In that respect kids are treated the same as a water leak; it only takes one call to get the ball rolling and possibly ruin your life.

        1. I think it varies a lot by state and locality. I don’t think I know anyone with a story like that. But I don’t doubt it happens a lot.

      2. Actually I agree with you Zeb. It is not everywhere, but the threat of it is everywhere. And it has nothing to do with neglect. It has more to do with a bad outcome if the child is not supervised.

      3. Actually I agree with you Zeb. It is not everywhere, but the threat of it is everywhere. And it has nothing to do with neglect. It has more to do with a bad outcome if the child is not supervised.

      4. Actually I agree with you Zeb. It is not everywhere, but the threat of it is everywhere. And it has nothing to do with neglect. It has more to do with a bad outcome if the child is not supervised.

      5. It really depends on where you live. Midwest, not so much,same is true of the South. (not including some areas of Texas and Florida)

        1. I raised my kid in Oregon, and didn’t have any of this reported “American” behavior. I live in the South, now, and I see signs of it, from time to time.

      6. You probably are not even aware of just how pervasive it is. As someone that lived in Germany for 6 years every trip back to the US was a huge wake up call to me, on this and MANY other things. While I agree that some areas are better than others, even those places that are good, are pretty far gone compared to the rest of the world. In Germany, kids, even elementary aged kids, tend to have classes in the morning, In the afternoon they will have some free time and some classes. It’s pretty common at 12 noon to see a flood of kids wander out from school, not to go straight home, but to just hang out with other kids. As their particular classes come up, they leave their friends and head back to school for that class. and then they are free again. In Europe, they do not have yellow school buses. The kids get passes for the transit systems. It’s pretty normal to see a bunch of kids on a bus or train going to or from school. And they are not going straight home, they hang out with their friends.

        Take a look around most US neighborhood. On a Saturday, or after school gets out, open your eyes and see just how many kids are out and about. Yes many kids may still walk home from school… but they go home, and don’t come out to run around their neighborhood with all the other kids.

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  4. German Law Archive
    So, here we have German national laws. Then you have EU laws and local province laws inside Germany.

    Some highlights of ridiculous German laws include, but not limited to:
    – “use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations” outside the contexts of “art or science, research or teaching”. The law does not name the individual symbols to be outlawed, and there is no official exhaustive list.
    – Dissemination of Means of Propaganda of Unconstitutional Organizations (no 1st Amendment of course)
    – Drunk cycling is illegal but will result in losing your drivers license at the least.
    – Government can reject baby names.
    – Holocaust denial is a crime. Not sure why someone would deny it happened but in Germany its illegal to do so.
    – Its illegal to keep cremated remains at home.
    – Swearing to police is illegal.
    – Its illegal to run out of gas on the autobahn.

    1. But yeah, Socialists and their Nanny-State brethren have been busy around the World.

    2. So adults are less free, but children are more free. An unfortunate tradeoff.

      Don’t forget, though, that some of those German restrictions on speech you mention were actually pressed on Germany by American authorities after WWII, even though they would be unconstitutional here.

      1. Your citation fell off that children are MORE free. German law applies to German children and adults alike.

        You are correct that America did force Germans to do many thing WHILE GERMANY WAS OCCUPIED AFTER LOSING WWII.

        Germany had decades to change their laws to embrace freedom of speech and press. They chose not to.

        1. I tend to agree that they have some silly laws (in all fairness, so do we). And while I do believe that the best answer to “hate” speech is simply more speech, I do think that Germany is a unique situation. Not that the Holocaust was the only attempted genocide in history. But that the German people accepted responsibility unlike most of the others. I would like to see them embrace a much wider view of free speech.

    3. That’s kind of irrelevant. Germans LOVE rules and order. It’s part of the cultural DNA and they brought it with them to the US as well. You can see it in the ‘orderly’ parts of the US where they settled and dominated (say PA to MN)

      The French love having rules so they can break/ignore them. Without rules, they wouldn’t be able to break them and 2-hour conversations at lunch would devolve to talking about mortgages and weather.

      The Brits don’t like rules and get flustered with rules anywhere in sight cuz they kind of feel obliged to obey them but don’t want to so they just get stressed.

      1. So why are children in Germany free-range?

        1. Why do you not fuck off Hihn?

          1. Shut the fuck up, Lone Wacko!

            1. Suck my dick you tiresome waffling equivocating fuck.

        2. Well they are more free-range – but do not underestimate how many neighbors are spying on them to make sure the kids are behaving correctly. Germany is full of neighborhood snoops. The difference is – neighbors will yap at the kids directly and not have the need to go thru their parents. After all, how are they to learn when Ruhezeit is if the neighbors don’t tell them?

          1. Interesting, thanks. KInow anything about the French in that regard?

            1. Not much. Superficially, their parenting seems very old-fashioned and disciplined but the French people I know don’t even like talking about parenting (or their kids for that matter).

    4. Guatemalans are forbidden to name their children things like Pirelli Cinturato Morales or Mercedes 1114 Turbo Quetzal. I’m not sure whether Barbie is legal, but there definitely are restrictions in that region.

    5. The US has many crazy laws, too. and I know some of those are enforced. However, many of them, the police enforce them with a, has anyone really been harmed attitude. Having lived in Germany, I would gladly trade my US citizenship for German citizenship. The only real down side I have is the EU, and that Germany does not allow dual citizenship after the age of 18. If they did… I would already have German Citizenship.

      European socialist have much more of a free market attitude than we do in the US. To get my German drivers License, the Government only stamps the paper and files it. You go to a private school, to get trained to drive. You go to a private charity for the required First aid class. You go to a semi-private organization to take the written, and driving test. You go to a private company to get your photo taken. Then you take your papers to the government office and they issue the license. To register my car, the License plates are made by private companies. I bring the plates I buy in to the government office and they put the stickers on that make them official.

      I have never met a police officer in the US as nice, as the worst self center jerk of a moron cop in Germany. They actually do view their job as serving the people, and are very friendly. As they are in most the world.

  5. I am curious if a true loser-pays tort system would have alleviated any of this. The rule with the pencil most likely stems from liability concerns. You get years of schools worrying about liability and fending off lawsuits bleeding into the culture where parents think they need to be as cautious as the institutions. Plaintiff attorneys then get overjoyed at a pool of jurors who believe the duty of care when it comes to children is sky high.

    Jury nullification in civil cases anyone?

    1. Torts – loser pays, would help a lot.

      Government agencies and school districts have lawyers on payroll. They lean extra protective because earning their money via rules is easier than earning their money via lawsuits.

      1. “Torts – loser pays, would help a lot.”

        You’re literally advocating for abandoning something called “The American Rule” in favor of “The British Rule”. You unpatriotic nutsack.

    2. European judges and juries are usually more sensible because they know the injured plaintiff is covered by universal health insurance. In contrast, American juries see our tort system as a (wasteful and capricious) substitute for universal health insurance. That is the original cancer from which most of the abuses in American tort law have metastasized.

      1. This does not pass the smell test.

        Juries do not grant millions of dollars of damages for “grief, discomfort, mental agony” and God knows what else because the plaintiff does not have universal health insurance.

        Nice try socialist

      2. I think even if there were some form of “universal” (presumably government) healthcare, the collateral source rule would still be applied. Furthermore, I don’t see why the government should be prevented from pursuing subrogation if it were to become the sole payer of health costs. As a result, the special damages will still find their way into evidence.

        Also when I reference loser pays, I also mean that in more than just a win on liability. I also believe such a system should exist for offers of judgment (if you are not awarded more than the offer, it counts as a loss). That way if you continue to contest and pursue a lawsuit on damages alone after an offer of judgment has been entered, then you could be on the hook for defense costs from that point forward. Defense costs in this situation should include the actual cost of the defense attorney. Most current offers of judgement or awarding of court costs don’t include that portion, and that’s usually the most expensive part of the defense.

        The damage is already done though. Parents are overprotective, and expect that everyone else will be as well.

    3. European judges and juries are usually more sensible because they know the injured plaintiff is covered by universal health insurance. In contrast, American juries see our tort system as a (wasteful and capricious) substitute for universal health insurance. That is the original cancer from which most of the abuses in American tort law have metastasized.

    4. European judges and juries are usually more sensible because they know the injured plaintiff is covered by universal health insurance. In contrast, American juries see our tort system as a (wasteful and capricious) substitute for universal health insurance. That is the original cancer from which most of the abuses in American tort law have metastasized.

      1. Good thing America had free market healthcare up to the 1940s.

        It allowed the USA to accumulate enough wealth to save the Europeans from the German National Socialists.

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  8. OT:

    “How to think about the costs of climate change”
    […]
    “How might climate change fuel inequality?”
    https://www.sfgate.com/business/
    article/How-to-think-about-the-costs
    -of-climate-change-13547458.php

    Women and minorities affected most, by any chance?
    And not a word comparing the costs of any proposed palliatives.
    It’s an NYT article.

  9. But in the home of the brave, a kid can’t hold a pencil on the school bus.

    When I was in, um, middle school there was an incident involving multiple bus riders using pencils to shoot a jockstrap around the bus.

    And nothing else happened!

    1. There was a time when kids could use those pencils to do schoolwork to gain a good education.

      Nanny-Staters cannot control kids if they get a good education.

    2. The pencil’s a more serious danger than you think. Daddy was a MD & never let us use pencils while riding in the car, because he’d seen the results of accidents.

      1. Oh, I understand.

        Jockstraps are also more dangerous than you think.

      2. Hard wood is dangerous.

        Its why boys are emasculated by women at an early age.

      3. Back when I was a kid, my mom would load us kids into the station wagon, hand us all pencils and then drive into a tree just to teach us a lesson about how dangerous pencils are. Then she’d tie our shoelaces together, hand us all scissors and have a pack of child molesters chase us home where we’d get our BB guns and shoot each other’s eyes out – if anybody had any eyes left. I lost 6 or 8 eyes that way, not to mention being disemboweled a couple of times from the tripping while running with scissors. And don’t get me started on the number of times I was poisoned by mom making us take candy from strangers.

        1. Jerrykids, did you ever get set on fire to teach you how dangerous it was to play with fire?

          They call me “Human Torch” now.

  10. Why is the USA aberrant in this regard?

    I’m guessing at least some of this is due to car culture, since so many of these kid-supervision issues have to do w xport’n. So spread-out developments, lack of sidewalks, a presumption of motoring.

    In New York City I’m sure there’s still no problem w kids walking to school or other destinations, nor w riding the bus or train.

    I also suspect these problems are minimal in rural areas, where kids roam over farms & can travel off-road. it’s the suburbs that are the problem.

    1. There is a systematic issue with kids and schooling.

      Kids dont walk to school anymore.
      Kids cant be kids at school (play with fake guns, etc).
      Kids dont get good educations for the most part. Its more about babysitting kids for the day.
      Kids are burdened with the ever increasing rules they will need to follow as adults.
      Kids are brainwashed into Lefty ideology (global warming, politically correct culture, etc)
      Kids need supervision most of the time, so their imaginations are stunted.
      Kids in many areas have their parents drop them off and pick them up, so a culture of independence is stunted.
      Kids are dissuaded from being entrepreneurs, like having their lemonade stands shutdown because no permits.

      1. I understand that, but why’s it peculiar to the USA? There’s more “left” ideology in most other countries, yet this problem seems to be visited on the USA. My contention is that it’s not visited uniformly on the USA, but primarily in suburbs.

        1. I agree that most of it happens in Lefty controlled areas. The local governments are Lefty and so are most of the parents.

          I also think the media tackles the subject as they do to normalize the Nanny-State rules. Humans tend to be Sheeple and follow, so normalizing new rules makes it easy for people to follow.

          1. I agree that most of it happens in Lefty controlled areas.

            No, I disagree w that. Take NYC (please)?some of the leftiest it gets, but not this problem. I haven’t been to SF, but I doubt it’s a problem there either.

            Rather, it’s the suburbs, which are politically mixed.

            1. Well, the common denominator seems to be government schools, which are controlled almost exclusively by left-aligned unions.

              That NYC (or any generic urban highish-density area) makes for a freer childhood does not mean that left-wing ideology provides for it. It’s more likely that cities that developed organically according to immediate needs at the time are more conducive to people’s lives than centrally-planned infrastructure.

              Phoenix, for example, is relatively very new (its grown only exploded after wider-spread distribution of air conditioning). As such it was much more heavily planned than, say, East-coast cities with histories going back a few hundred years. And every plan is framed within six-lane surface streets and cars. There isn’t really any place in all of Metro Phoenix that supports the type of childhood you’re talking about. Maybe a limited version exists within gated communities, but that’s hardly the ‘bike to school’ notion referred to in the article.

              I think this shows that large-scale city planning removes choice in the short term and destroys possibilities in the long term. Organic growth may not look as pretty short-term, but in the long term it produces far superior results.

          2. The first big lemonade story came from Tulare, California. A red town in the middle of a red county who’s primary industry is orchards and row crops. They still gave a ticket to a little girl selling lemonade.

            1. House District 22, which includes Tulare (2018 election):
              Devin Nunes* Rep. 117,243 52.7%
              Andrew Janz Dem. 105,136 47.3

              Seems like a pretty close House race to be some conservative bastion of Constitutionalism inside Commifornia.

              1. The point is, the phenomenon decried by Skenazy cuts across “left-right” & Dem-GOP lines.

                1. No clearly convincing evidence of that was presented.

                  School districts in Red states are still heavily run by lefties. Colleges, even in Red states are heavily run by Lefties.

                  There is still a large difference in Nanny-State activities in Red states vs Blue states.

                  California has banned plastic straw offerings. Georgia has not banned plastic straw offerings.

                2. No the point is that you should fuck off Hihn

              2. Democrats in that region are pretty much conservatives who just want a bit more dole than the Republicans are comfortable dishing out.

                I know both these guys and they’re both assholes. Polite assholes because they’re both politicians, but still assholes because they are politicians.

                And since when were Republicans in favor of constitutionalism? What dope you been smoking?

                1. You’re making assumptions without any citations.

                  Trump is a Republican and nominated Gorsuch (very Constitutionalist) to the SCOTUS. The GOP Senate confirmed him.

                  There is clearly evidence against your assumption that Republicans are not Constitutionalist in some manner.

                  Any non-Lefty still left in Commifornia has a great reason why they cannot leave or they are okay with the clear violations of the United States and California Constitutions that take place every day.

                  1. As I understand it, if you retired while in California, you are required to pay income tax on your pension (SS, Pension, etc) even if you move OUT of the state.

        2. It is not peculiar to the USA, it is just more advanced here.

          A small example, as a child, and with my older daughters (now in late 30s) Lego blocks were just blocks. I built anything my imagination could dream up with them and had LOTS of them because I was always dreaming something bigger.

          My daughters did the same, but as they got older Legos changed. Now with my youngest (13) and my grandsons, the Legos are all sets of custom pieces with instructions to make a specific thing. More like the model airplane of my youth than the multipurpose blocks they once were.

          Follow the instructions, no imagination required, or wanted.

          1. My grand kids took those specific-purpose kits and built whatever they wanted with them.

      1. Why didn’t you exercise your Hihnfuckery in that thread yesterday where he was obviously DavidNolanLibertarian spouting a lot of banality?

          1. I think Robert might not be the problem here.

            1. Right, it’s that Robert is Hihn and you aren’t sucking my dick.

              Now suck my dick you tiresome waffling equivocating fuck.

              1. I really don’t get the appeal of behaving like a complete asshole towards people you don’t know. Do you just think it’s funny or are you really this angry and deranged?

                1. I gotta agree with Zeb here. Ive yet to see Robert engage in any Hihnsanity. And I despise that guy. (Been reading Reason comments since around 08 or so, and typically only comment to make fun of Hihn)

    2. My guess is that Europe and Asia are still largely rural populations. Even in the denser parts of Europe it’s still mostly small villages and towns separated by bits of woodland. But in America we have all but ignored those living outside the urban center. They aren’t seen. They don’t count. That’s where the eebil free rangers live. And so all of the culture broadcast and fed into us comes from the the urban centers to the point that it bleeds out into the rest of the nation.

      1. But I don’t think it’s the urban centers; rather, the suburbs.

          1. Can you fucking stop this? It’s attention-whoring and not adding to the conversation. Moreover, it’s obnoxious as fuck.

            1. About a week ago, apparently the fact that I got annoyed by this confirmed his belief that I was Michael Hihn?as if Hihn’s were the only person who finds Tulpa annoying!

              1. Fuck off and stop talking to yourself Hihn.

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    3. My guess is that Europe and Asia are still largely rural populations. Even in the denser parts of Europe it’s still mostly small villages and towns separated by bits of woodland. But in America we have all but ignored those living outside the urban center. They aren’t seen. They don’t count. That’s where the eebil free rangers live. And so all of the culture broadcast and fed into us comes from the the urban centers to the point that it bleeds out into the rest of the nation.

    4. A LOT of it is car culture and the consequences of that (mostly sprawl).

      I grew up overseas (urban Third World and then London). My first boundaries were how far I could walk without crossing major avenues – later on public transport. I don’t remember a single instance of me being driven somewhere beyond like dr appt or family events. No need either cuz there was plenty of places to go within walking distance. Had my folks known what I was up to maybe things would’ve been different but what they didn’t know they didn’t worry about either.

      I came back for college so didn’t personally notice the difference firsthand here but was struck by the importance attached to getting a license and car and how dependent/immature peer group seemed. That was all alien to me. My sister did notice and hated it here. She was just old enough to have gained independence and then moved to LA burbs of all places during the mid-80’s when the strangerdanger and other ‘justifications’ for clampdown went into hyperdrive.

      1. I think it is more generational shifts.

        Car culture allowed many youths to ESCAPE the watchful eyes of the town’s busybodies and have orgiastic weekends the next town over. My folks grew up in what is arguably the height of car culture, and while the social mores were superficially more strict, the enforcement was far more lax. And onward from grandparents to great grandparents- they had far greater autonomy in each proceeding generation.

        The mid-80’s would have been the height of BMX’s popularity. Kids zipping to and fro on their bicycles, the rise of latchkey kids… parents today would have been horrified by thought of kids hanging out at arcades/malls unsupervised.

        As an aside, the recent discussion of Millennials being burnt out I think can be attributed to the added level of complexity they are forced to navigate and the much, much higher levels of bullshit they have to contend with. It is just mentally draining to decipher corporate speak and umpteen pages of regulations and documents they have to manage; a side effect of the nanny state.

        1. Car culture allowed many youths to ESCAPE the watchful eyes of the town’s busybodies and have orgiastic weekends the next town over.

          I definitely noticed a lot of that mindset re drinking when I came to college. I had been drinking in pubs since I was 14. Illegally since the age was 18 there but as long as we behaved ourselves, it wasn’t a big deal (prob cuz we weren’t driving after) and we weren’t kicked out much. It certainly affected how I learned to drink. American kids OTOH didn’t seem to know how to control themselves even by college – binge drink until you puke and then start over again and everything about the drinking was peer-group oriented (from the silly games to the frat house stuff). But that’s where there is a difference based on car culture – one is independence, the other is almost desperate ESCAPE (your word – at a significantly older age).

          I guess the difference is – what is the objective for kids to be freer-range and independent. If it is just to BE free, then it doesn’t surprise me if there are reactions that follow if the kids end up going all Clockwork Orange. If it is an unstructured way of learning responsibility, well then the occasional stupidity/boorishness of kids being kids is just part of the process.

          1. The bit with drinking has probably more to do with America being just a few generations out from Prohibition. You still see that binge mentality with other illicit substances. Also for all the celebrated freedom of the US, it is still puritanical at its core. Thaddeus Russell makes the argument that a largish portion of the American mindset is incorporating overseer into the psyche (be it Baby Jesus or the NSA). While it is often misattributed as being “responsible”, I think it is more a ID/Superego relationship. I’m still considering the validity/consequences.

            And increased autonomy I think serves both kids having a concrete set of experiences to draw from to be more capable and being able to break free of the traditions that are stifling. There was far more rebellion in generations prior that is sadly missing today.

            Anyhoo, technology probably exacerbates the manifestations, butt I don’t think it is causal. There is something more fundamental going on, and I think even Europeans would claim they are far more regimented that a few generations ago, so it isn’t unique to the US.

  11. “My daughter always says, ‘Oh, I wish we could have more playdates like in Brazil!'” says Claudia Jorge, whose family of four recently relocated to Havertown, Pennsylvania. “Here we have to schedule them; there she just goes and knocks on the neighbor’s door.”

    Yeah, I remember when I was in middle school my best friend lived across the street. One of us would just walk across the street and knock on the door. As long as I told my parents where I was going and not just walk out the door without a word they were fine with it.

    And we didn’t call it “play dates” either, it was “hanging out.” “Play date” might be one of the more annoying terms associated with modern helicopter parenting. The worst thing about them is if you ever watch a group of moms with their kids on a “play date” it pretty quickly turns into a competition to see who can helicopter harder. Kind of like a dick measuring contest for suburban soccer moms. Only I guess in this case it would be a clit measuring contest.

    1. Women running things openly without masculine influences is not a good thing.

      Helicopter mothering is one of those bad things.

      1. But why are the helicopters especially American? Is it because American women are given more authority than women elsewhere are?

        1. Women used to run the households in the USA, so they always dealt with getting the kids off to school, etc.

          Women tend to be natural “protectors” via nurturing and somewhere it went awry.

          As a kid, I was responsible for getting to and from school. I could hang with friends until sundown. I also had chores.

        2. First World Problems. Too many people with too much free time to worry about negligible or non-existent risks, the media to feed their fears and the everything’s-an-epidemic industry to profit off of it. People in other countries probably spend more time working to put bread on the table and don’t have time for this kind of nonsense.

          Reminds me of a Chris Rock bit about all the food allergies people now pretend to have when starving people in Third World countries seemingly ain’t allergic to shit.

          1. Yes, I think wealth’s a big factor in this too.

            1. I think you should fuck off Hihn.

          2. In part it may be a one-child problem. When parents had three children, they had to set priorities and did not have time to helicopter.

          3. Yes, is seems that you have to become wealthy (in global terms) before you become allergic to gluten for example.

        3. IMO it’s feminism and workplace and competition stuff.

          Open opportunities for women in the workplace and competition begins. American men have never really parented in any sense beyond ‘being the money provider’. ‘You’ve come a long way baby’ was the ad for cigs marketed to women in the 70’s – but the mindset that captures isn’t just some progress in the workplace/suffrage thang. It also creates a subtle mindset re parenting – that a mom had better do a hell of a lot better at parenting than HER mom or maybe she hasn’t ‘come a long way baby’. And especially if she is either taking time off from work to parent – or hasn’t been as successful at work as she wanted to be so has changed focus a bit to parenting.

          In many ways, the mindset is just a continuation of the old ‘your kids reflect on you as a parent’ – but on steroids.

    2. We’d walk across the street and walk into a friend’s house without knocking. That was pretty common. So long as we were home by the time the street lights came on, all was cool with our parents.

      In the summer, it was not unusual to wake, come downstairs for breakfast and find one of my buddies eating cereal and chatting it up with my father. It was so casual.

      1. Very common for my family too.

        The other thing, was that we rarely saw cops. I once found a link to ratio of citizens to police has changed for the worse in the last few decades.

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  14. We lived within easy walking distance of my son’s elementary school, as did nearly everybody in our small town. The school had amazing outside recreation facilities – basketball courts, hockey rink, baseball field, football (both sorts) field, playground equipment…

    When we enrolled my son in the school, the school went to great pains to inform us no students were allowed on the school campus except during school hours, so all those amazing facilities were largely wasted.

    Every time I have to interact with our public school system I come away with the belief that for this country to survive, the public school system has to be completely replaced with something far better.

    1. +100

      If your property taxes are like mine, school district taxes make up over 50%.

      1. Before I sold my house my property taxes were around a grand a year. That’s right. Eight hundred and fifty bucks if I recall correctly.

        No police force. No sewers. No town water. No services at all. The town didn’t charge us for services we neither wanted nor needed. But the schools were top notch. It was fucking awesome! Then I got divorced….

      2. Before I sold my house my property taxes were around a grand a year. That’s right. Eight hundred and fifty bucks if I recall correctly.

        No police force. No sewers. No town water. No services at all. The town didn’t charge us for services we neither wanted nor needed. But the schools were top notch. It was fucking awesome! Then I got divorced….

  15. I still have a charcoal mark on my knee where a kid stabbed me with a pencil in sixth grade. I hope he still has a mark on his chest where I stabbed him back.

    And nothing else happened.

    1. If he had only tried to erase you, he would have put his rubber inside you rather than his wood.

      1. That’s almost funny.

      2. And he put neither rubber nor wood inside me. Just graphite.

        1. Graphite…That is the hot lead that comes out from the wood at the right time.

          You’re making this too easy.

          1. Um, sure. Whatever dood

            1. Come on! These were a decent play on words.

              I gave you credit for good jokes. That one time you told one. 🙂

              1. The first one was almost funny. I will give you credit for that. Second? Not so much.

  16. There is an inverse relationship between safety and liberty. In this country the focus has been safety for a few decades. Fuck, last time I got a speeding ticket the pig said “Stay safe” before he walked away. Gotta keep kids safe. Safety, safety safety. Liberty? Freedom? Fuck no! Safety!

    1. I’m impressed that you managed to turn this into a way to bitch about cops.

      You own that one note, and you play the fuck out of it.

      1. Donkey smell

        1. No one cares what your nickname is.

          1. Not a Cheech and Chong fan I see.

            1. Sorry a bit before my time.

      2. You really have no redeeming qualities, huh?

        1. I have one.

          I don’t say I spent 250k on my education and then when I realize how impossibly stupid that make me sound, lie and say I actually got a free ride.

          1. And you know the Dewey Decimal System by heart. Though I’m not sure how that is redeeming.

            1. Nope, not even that, just the one thing I said.

          2. Either I’m very rich or very smart. Pick one.

            1. See this is what I mean. You’re an imbecile.

              You don’t have to be either you gibbering idiot. You simply took out a massive amount of student loans.

              1. I certainly would have picked a more lucrative major if I had to actually pay for it.

                1. You did actually pay for it. I don’t know why you try to lie.

                  1. They paid me to go in fact, and all it cost me was an almost imperceptible feeling of guilt when they send me fundrainsing mail I throw away.

            2. Hmmm

              I am going with idiot living in Mom’s basement.

    2. Does that relationship really hold up? That is, do you actually get more safety w less liberty? Less safety w more liberty?

  17. A couple of comments on a friend’s FB post this weekend let me to discover that not only does free range parenting exist in Europe, it’s the norm. Teachers do not direct and manage playtime activities, kids take the public trains to school, and students are self directed. Playgrounds without rubber padding.

    The parent of European education is not John Dewey, but Maria Montessori.

    1. My wife was a Montessori teacher for years. Always was amazed when I walked into her classroom. Here was a room full of 4-6 year olds calmly sitting on their mats or at a table busy doing constructive educational things with very little direction or interference.

      The little angels would have run me over in seconds.

      1. I taught in a Montessori school for a couple of years. Shame that it never caught on in the US outside of elite affluent leftie private schools. Oh well.

        1. Lefty affluent elite. Not where we were. Oh well.

  18. Welcome to the land of WEENIs (White Excessively Educated Nervous Individuals).

  19. Sad that just a generation or two ago, my mom could walk from her schol to home for lunch in 1st grade without anyone batting an eye, when now, a child can’t even take out his pencil on the bus. no wonder we’re raising a generation of fragile snowflakes!

  20. It’s absolutely pathetic and it’s raising entire generations of pussies. We’re already seeing the results in the public “discourse” over the past few years.

  21. I noted that the US examples were all on the east coast. I wonder if it plays out differently in flyover country as compared to the coasts. I know here that I see children playing unsupervised in my neighborhood.

    1. I think Robert is probably right and the divisions are more rural/suburban/urban with rural and urban allowing more freedom for children.

  22. I’m going to have to e-mail Ms. Skenazy to ask her idea of what caused this phenomenon to emerge in the USA as opposed to elsewhere.

    This discussion seems familiar, so maybe I’ve asked her already & forgot her response. I know I’ve had the suburban vs. (urban+rural) idea for a while, but don’t remember if I related it to car culture specifically in previous threads.

    1. And she’ll tell you to fuck off Hihn.

  23. Lenore is right abt homebound ‘murricans becoming weenies. But down in the bandana republics it often seems it’s the ‘murrican, Indian and even Asian kids who tend to run relatively wild compared to the natives. It’s almost as if the locals don’t even realize the opportunities for free-range roaming and adventure. A cynical observer might be tempted to conclude that freedom is wasted on some cultures.

  24. Kids in my neighborhood still walk to elementary school and bike down to the neighborhood swim club. My own kids (now in their 20s) and their friends headed downtown to goof off and waste money on junk food and Pokemon cards starting when they were in 4th-5th grade. But it’s funny that this is a thing in proggy Ann Arbor whereas in the more conservative sprawl neighborhoods and suburban and exurban towns, it isn’t. Mostly I think it’s because those places haven’t been built so that it’s not even possible for kids to do much on their own. The nearest stores are miles away down roads that *I* wouldn’t bike on now. So out there, kids are chauffeured by parents everywhere they go.

  25. Wikipedia says that about 600,000 children are born in Germany per year for year 2017 and 2018. Almost 400,000 plus go missing in the United States annually. Enough children disappear in the United States every 14 months to equal the entire population of children born to Germans annually. That’s why American children are more sheltered. The country is absurdley less safe.

    1. _Think_ about those statistics you are throwing out there. 400,000 children missing annually is nearly 80 million children missing before they reach 18 – essentially all of them. And yet I don’t know any families that lost a child. Either the stats are entirely bogus, or they are inflated with not only non-custodial parental kidnappings, but also with every time a kid misses a school bus or is late coming home for supper.

  26. “He wasn’t allowed to have a pencil out,” says the mom of three, “because it was considered unsafe.”

    Clown Country.

    I watched some writer on twitter share her terror when she realized that the car guys hadn’t actually bolted in the rear seats where she set her precious little darlings *in their child car seats*. She had already driven somewhere! The horror!

    She drove immediately to the car dealership, sweating bullets all the way.

    Parents really are insane these days.

    Meanwhile, 20% of school age children are obese.

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  28. And it shouldn’t go unnoticed that these countries with greater freedom for kids are never on any list of “countries with the worst human trafficking problems”. I saw only one mentioned in this article – Bolivia – and it’s ranked 34th.

    American parents are letting their paranoia get to them, and those “this creepy guy followed my family around the store” Facebook posts aren’t helping. That or it’s more finanically viable here to get Johnny Lawyer to sue a school or daycare and end up with some nice settlement money… hence the schools’ draconian rules out of fear of getting served.

    And yes, I am a parent myself. One who let his little boy walk three blocks down a busy road to school starting in the 4th grade.

  29. Holding a pencil on a school bus is too dangerous, but it is perfectly safe without seat belts! Yeah, right!

  30. Yeah, you know why it is like this?

    Social trust. America doesn’t have it anymore. We don’t trust our neighbors or random strangers to do the right thing. There have been plenty of studies on this. We don’t have the social cohesion that places like Germany or Japan have.

    So people don’t feel safe letting their kids wander.

    I think there are 2 main reasons for this. One is study after study shows people subconsciously don’t trust different ethnicities, and the US is far more “diverse” than any of these countries. The other is our news media hypes up all the crimes and dangers of EVERYTHING to an insane degree. Despite the fact that the actual crime rates are all down considerably from when I was a kid, and indeed even lower than when my dad was a kid… People THINK it’s horribly unsafe.

    Those probably cover 70% of the reason. The other 30% is that we have allowed prog-derp busy bodies to have too much say in the modern world, instead of telling them to shut their dirty whore mouths like we should.

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  34. When I started Kindergarten in 1958, my mother walked me to school on the first day. After that, I was on my own. That was a short walk, mostly in sight from the kitchen window, and crossing only one side street, which was right by the school. In third grade in Minneapolis, I walked a half-mile and crossed a busy set of four railroad tracks. In 4th grade, I crossed a busy highway. The first time a school bus was available was 7th grade – I tried it once, then rode my bike a mile and a half until the Michigan winter closed in – and then I might get a ride from a neighbor if I got up early enough, or take the bus, or if I missed the bus too, I could walk and get there first! I wasn’t fully dependent on anyone else for transportation until the 9th grade when my family moved out in the country and the bus was the only practical way of getting to school.

    I wonder how much of the middle-class distaste for buses (and the enthusiasm of liberals for cutting back funding for buses that actually get poor people to work in favor of trains that mostly don’t) comes from their experience riding school buses?

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