Free Minds & Free Markets

The Fragile Generation

Bad policy and paranoid parenting are making kids too safe to succeed.

One day last year, a citizen on a prairie path in the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst came upon a teen boy chopping wood. Not a body. Just some already-fallen branches. Nonetheless, the onlooker called the cops.

Officers interrogated the boy, who said he was trying to build a fort for himself and his friends. A local news site reports the police then "took the tools for safekeeping to be returned to the boy's parents."

Elsewhere in America, preschoolers at the Learning Collaborative in Charlotte, North Carolina, were thrilled to receive a set of gently used playground equipment. But the kids soon found out they would not be allowed to use it, because it was resting on grass, not wood chips. "It's a safety issue," explained a day care spokeswoman. Playing on grass is against local regulations.

And then there was the query that ran in Parents magazine a few years back: "Your child's old enough to stay home briefly, and often does. But is it okay to leave her and her playmate home while you dash to the dry cleaner?" Absolutely not, the magazine averred: "Take the kids with you, or save your errand for another time." After all, "you want to make sure that no one's feelings get too hurt if there's a squabble."

The principle here is simple: This generation of kids must be protected like none other. They can't use tools, they can't play on grass, and they certainly can't be expected to work through a spat with a friend.

And this, it could be argued, is why we have "safe spaces" on college campuses and millennials missing adult milestones today. We told a generation of kids that they can never be too safe—and they believed us.

Safety First

We've had the best of intentions, of course. But efforts to protect our children may be backfiring. When we raise kids unaccustomed to facing anything on their own, including risk, failure, and hurt feelings, our society and even our economy are threatened. Yet modern child-rearing practices and laws seem all but designed to cultivate this lack of preparedness. There's the fear that everything children see, do, eat, hear, and lick could hurt them. And there's a newer belief that has been spreading through higher education that words and ideas themselves can be traumatizing.

How did we come to think a generation of kids can't handle the basic challenges of growing up?

Beginning in the 1980s, American childhood changed. For a variety of reasons—including shifts in parenting norms, new academic expectations, increased regulation, technological advances, and especially a heightened fear of abduction (missing kids on milk cartons made it feel as if this exceedingly rare crime was rampant)—children largely lost the experience of having large swaths of unsupervised time to play, explore, and resolve conflicts on their own. This has left them more fragile, more easily offended, and more reliant on others. They have been taught to seek authority figures to solve their problems and shield them from discomfort, a condition sociologists call "moral dependency."

This poses a threat to the kind of open-mindedness and flexibility young people need to thrive at college and beyond. If they arrive at school or start careers unaccustomed to frustration and misunderstandings, we can expect them to be hypersensitive. And if they don't develop the resources to work through obstacles, molehills come to look like mountains.

This magnification of danger and hurt is prevalent on campus today. It no longer matters what a person intended to say, or how a reasonable listener would interpret a statement—what matters is whether any individual feels offended by it. If so, the speaker has committed a "microaggression," and the offended party's purely subjective reaction is a sufficient basis for emailing a dean or filing a complaint with the university's "bias response team." The net effect is that both professors and students today report that they are walking on eggshells. This interferes with the process of free inquiry and open debate—the active ingredients in a college education.

And if that's the case already, what of the kids still in grammar school, constantly reminded they might accidentally hurt each other with the wrong words? When today's 8-year-olds become the 18-year-olds starting college, will they still view free speech as worthy of protecting? As Daniel Shuchman, chairman of the free speech-promoting Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), puts it, "How likely are they to consider the First Amendment essential if they start learning in fifth grade that you're forbidden to say—or even think—certain things, especially at school?"

Parents, teachers, and professors are talking about the growing fragility they see. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that the overprotection of children and the hypersensitivity of college students could be two sides of the same coin. By trying so hard to protect our kids, we're making them too safe to succeed.

Children on a Leash

If you're over 40, chances are good that you had scads of free time as a child—after school, on weekends, over the summer. And chances are also good that, if you were asked about it now, you'd go on and on about playing in the woods and riding your bike until the streetlights came on.

Today many kids are raised like veal. Only 13 percent of them even walk to school. Many who take the bus wait at the stop with parents beside them like bodyguards. For a while, Rhode Island was considering a bill that would prohibit children from getting off the bus in the afternoon if there wasn't an adult waiting to walk them home. This would have applied until seventh grade.

As for summer frolicking, campers don't just have to take a buddy with them wherever they go, including the bathroom. Some are now required to take two—one to stay with whoever gets hurt, the other to run and get a grown-up. Walking to the john is treated like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

After school, kids no longer come home with a latchkey and roam the neighborhood. Instead, they're locked into organized, supervised activities. Youth sports are a $15 billion business that has grown by 55 percent since just 2010. Children as young as third grade are joining traveling teams—which means their parents spend a lot of time in the car, too. Or they're at tutoring. Or they're at music lessons. And if all else fails, they are in their rooms, online.

Even if parents want to shoo their kids outside—and don't come home till dinner!—it's not as easy as it once was. Often, there are no other children around to play with. Even more dishearteningly, adults who believe it's good for young people to run some errands or play kickball down the street have to think twice about letting them, because busybodies, cops, and social workers are primed to equate "unsupervised" with "neglected and in danger."

You may remember the story of the Meitivs in Maryland, investigated twice for letting their kids, 10 and 6, walk home together from the park. Or the Debra Harrell case in South Carolina, where a mom was thrown in jail for allowing her 9-year-old to play at the sprinkler playground while she worked at McDonald's. Or the 8-year-old Ohio boy who was supposed to get on the bus to Sunday school, but snuck off to the Family Dollar store instead. His dad was arrested for child endangerment.

These examples represent a new outlook: the belief that anytime kids are doing anything on their own, they are automatically under threat. But that outlook is wrong. The crime rate in America is back down to what it was in 1963, which means that most of today's parents grew up playing outside when it was more dangerous than it is today. And it hasn't gotten safer because we're hovering over our kids. All violent crime is down, including against adults.

Danger Things

And yet it doesn't feel safer. A 2010 study found "kidnapping" to be the top parental fear, despite the fact that merely being a passenger in a car is far more dangerous. Nine kids were kidnapped and murdered by strangers in 2011, while 1,140 died in vehicles that same year. While Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker writes in 2011's The Better Angels of Our Nature that life in most countries is safer today than at any time in human history, the press keeps pushing paranoia. This makes stepping back feel doubly risky: There's the fear of child kidnappers and the fear of Child Protective Services.

At times, it seems like our culture is conjuring dangers out of thin air, just to have something new to worry about. Thus, the Boulder Public Library in Colorado recently forbade anyone under 12 to enter without an adult, because "children may encounter hazards such as stairs, elevators, doors, furniture, electrical equipment, or other library patrons." Ah, yes, kids and library furniture. Always a lethal combo.

Happily, the library backed off that rule, perhaps thanks to merciless mocking in the media. But saner minds don't always prevail. At Mesa Elementary School, which also happens to be in Boulder, students got a list of the items they could not bring to the science fair. These included "chemicals," "plants in soil," and "organisms (living or dead)." And we wonder why American children score so low on international tests.

But perhaps the single best example of how fantastically fearful we've become occurred when the city of Richland, Washington, got rid of all the swings on its school playgrounds. The love of swinging is probably older than humanity itself, given our arboreal origins. But as a school district spokesman explained, "Swings have been determined to be the most unsafe of all the playground equipment on a playground."

You may think your town has avoided such overkill, but is there a merry-go-round at your local park, or a see-saw? Most likely they, too, have gone the way of lawn darts. The Consumer Product Safety Commission even warns parks of "tripping hazards, like…tree stumps and rocks," a fact unearthed (so to speak) by Philip Howard, author of 2010's Life Without Lawyers.

The problem is that kids learn by doing. Trip over a tree stump and you learn to look down. There's an old saying: Prepare your child for the path, not the path for your child. We're doing the opposite.

Ironically, there are real health dangers in not walking, or biking, or hopping over that stump. A Johns Hopkins study this summer found that the typical 19-year-old is as sedentary as a 65-year-old. The Army is worried that its recruits don't know how to skip or do somersaults.

But the cost of shielding kids from risks goes well beyond the physical, as a robust body of research has shown.

Of Trophies and Traumas

A few years ago, Boston College psychology professor emeritus Peter Gray was invited by the head of counseling services at a major university to a conference on "the decline in resilience among students." The organizer said that emergency counseling calls had doubled in the last five years. What's more, callers were seeking help coping with everyday problems, such as arguments with a roommate. Two students had dialed in because they'd found a mouse in their apartment. They also called the police, who came and set a mousetrap. And that's not to mention the sensitivity around grades. To some students, a B is the end of the world. (To some parents, too.)

Free play has little in common with the "play" we give children today. In organized activities, adults run the show. It's only when the grown-ups aren't around that the kids get to take over. Play is training for adulthood.

Part of the rise in calls could be attributed to the fact that admitting mental health issues no longer carries the stigma it once did, an undeniably positive development. But it could also be a sign, Gray realized, that failing at basic "adulting" no longer carries the stigma it once did. And that is far more troubling.

Is this outcome the apotheosis of participation-trophy culture? It's easy to scoff at a society that teaches kids that everything they do deserves applause. But more disturbing is the possibility that those trophies taught kids the opposite lesson: that they're so easily hurt, they can't handle the sad truth that they're not the best at something.

Not letting your kid climb a tree because he might fall robs him of a classic childhood experience. But being emotionally overprotective takes away something else. "We have raised a generation of young people who have not been given the opportunity to…experience failure and realize they can survive it," Gray has said. When Lenore's son came in eighth out of nine teams in a summer camp bowling league, he got an eighth-place trophy. The moral was clear: We don't think you can cope with the negative emotions of finishing second-to-last.

Of course, it's natural to want to see kids happy. But the real secret to happiness isn't more high fives; it's developing emotional resilience. In our mania for physical safety, coupled with our recent tendency to talk about "emotional safety," we have systematically deprived our children of the thousands of challenging—and sometimes upsetting—experiences that they need in order to learn that resiliency. And in our quest to protect them, we have stolen from children the best resilience training known to man: free play.

Play's the Thing

All mammals play. It is a drive installed by Mother Nature. Hippos do backflips in the water. Dogs fetch sticks. And gazelles run around, engaging in a game that looks an awful lot like tag.

Why would they do that? They're wasting valuable calories and exposing themselves to predators. Shouldn't they just sit quietly next to their mama gazelles, exploring the world through the magic of PBS Kids?

It must be because play is even more important to their long-term survival than simply being "safe." Gray's main body of research is on the importance of free play, and he stresses that it has little in common with the "play" we give kids today. In organized activities—Little League, for example—adults run the show. It's only when the grown-ups aren't around that the kids get to take over. Play is training for adulthood.

In free play, ideally with kids of mixed ages, the children decide what to do and how to do it. That's teamwork, literally. The little kids desperately want to be like the bigger kids, so instead of bawling when they strike out during a sandlot baseball game, they work hard to hold themselves together. This is the foundation of maturity.

The older kids, meanwhile, throw the ball more softly to the younger ones. They're learning empathy. And if someone yells, "Let's play on just one leg!"—something they couldn't do at Little League, with championships (and trophies!) on the line—the kids discover what it means to come up with and try out a different way of doing things. In Silicon Valley terms, they "pivot" and adopt a "new business model." They also learn that they, not just grown-ups, can collectively remake the rules to suit their needs. That's called participatory democracy.

Best of all, without adults intervening, the kids have to do all the problem solving for themselves, from deciding what game to play to making sure the teams are roughly equal. Then, when there's an argument, they have to resolve it themselves. That's a tough skill to learn, but the drive to continue playing motivates them to work things out. To get back to having fun, they first have to come up with a solution, so they do. This teaches them that they can disagree, hash it out, and—perhaps with some grumbling—move on.

These are the very skills that are suddenly in short supply on college campuses.

"Free play is the means by which children learn to make friends, overcome their fears, solve their own problems and generally take control of their own lives," Gray writes in 2013's Free to Learn (Basic Books). "Nothing we do, no amount of toys we buy or 'quality time' or special training we give our children, can compensate for the freedom we take away. The things that children learn through their own initiatives, in free play, cannot be taught in other ways."

Unstructured, unsupervised time for play is one of the most important things we have to give back to kids if we want them to be strong and happy and resilient.

Where Have All the Paperboys Gone?

It's not just that kids aren't playing much on their own. These days, they're not doing much of anything on their own. In an article in The Atlantic, Hanna Rosin admits that "when my daughter was 10, my husband and I suddenly realized that in her whole life, she had probably not spent more than 10 minutes unsupervised by an adult."

In earlier generations, this would have seemed a bizarre and wildly overprotective upbringing. Society had certain age-related milestones that most people agreed on. Kids might be trusted to walk to school by first grade. They might get a latchkey at 8, take on a newspaper route around 10, start babysitting at 12. But over the past generation or so, those milestones disappeared—buried by fears of kidnapping, the rise of supervised activities, and the pre-eminence of homework. Parents today know all about the academic milestones their kids are supposed to reach, but not about the moments when kids used to start joining the world.

It's not necessarily their fault. Calls to eight newspapers in North Carolina found none that would take anyone under the age of 18 to deliver papers. A police chief in New Albany, Ohio, went on record saying kids shouldn't be outside on their own till age 16, "the threshold where you see children getting a little bit more freedom." A study in Britain found that while just under half of all 16- to 17-year-olds had jobs as recently as 1992, today that number is 20 percent.

The responsibility expected of kids not so long ago has become almost inconceivable. Published in 1979, the book Your 6-Year-old: Loving and Defiant includes a simple checklist for what a child entering first grade should be able to do: Can he draw and color and stay within the lines of the design being colored? Can he ride a small two-wheeled bicycle without helper wheels? Can he travel alone in the neighborhood (four to eight blocks) to a store, school, playground, or friend's home?

Hang on. Walk to the store at 6—alone?

It's tempting to blame "helicopter parents" for today's less resilient kids. But when all the first-graders are walking themselves to school, it's easy to add yours to the mix. When your child is the only one, it's harder. And that's where we are today. Norms have dramatically changed. The kind of freedom that seemed unremarkable a generation ago has become taboo, and in some cases even illegal.

A Very Hampered Halloween

In Waynesboro, Georgia, "trick or treaters" must be 12 or younger; they must be in a costume; and they must be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years of age. So if you have kids who are 15, 10, and 8, you can't send them out together. The 15-year-old is not allowed to dress up, yet she won't be considered old enough to supervise her siblings for another six years. And this is on the one night of the entire year we traditionally let children pretend to be adults.

Other schools and community centers now send letters home asking parents not to let their children wear scary costumes. Some even organize "trunk or treats"—cars parked in a circle, trunks open and filled with candy, thus saving the kids from having to walk around the neighborhood or knock on doors. (That would be tiring and terrifying.) If this is childhood, is it any wonder college kids also expect to be micromanaged on Halloween?

At Yale in 2015, after 13 college administrators signed a letter outlining appropriate vs. inappropriate costume choices for students, the childhood development expert and campus lecturer Erika Christakis suggested that it would be better to allow kids to think for themselves. After all, Halloween is supposed to be about pushing boundaries. "Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little obnoxious…or, yes, offensive?" she wrote. "Have we lost faith in young people's capacity—your capacity—to ignore or reject things that trouble you?"

Apparently, yes. Angry students mobbed her husband, the professor Nicholas Christakis, surrounding him in the courtyard of the residential college where he served as master. They screamed obscenities and demanded he apologize for believing, along with his wife, that college students are in fact capable of handling offensive costumes on Halloween. "Be quiet!" a student shouted at him at one point. "As master, it is your job to create a place of comfort and home for the students!" She did not take kindly to his response that, to the contrary, he sees it as his job to create a space where students can grow intellectually.

As it turns out, Halloween is the perfect Petri dish for observing what we have done to childhood. We didn't think anything was safe enough for young people. And now we are witnessing the results.

No Fun and No Joy

When parents curtail their kids' independence, they're not just depriving the younglings of childhood fun. They are denying themselves the grown-up joy of seeing their kids do something smart, brave, or kind without parental guidance.

It's the kind of joy described by a Washington Post columnist who answered the phone one day and was shocked to find her 8-year-old son on the other end. He'd accidentally gone home when he was supposed to stay after school. Realizing she wasn't there, he decided to walk to the store a few blocks away—his first time. The mom raced over, fearing God knows what, and rushed in only to find her son happily helping the shopkeeper stock the shelves with meat. He'd had a snack and done his homework, too. It was an afternoon he'd never forget, and neither would his very proud mother.

When we don't let our kids do anything on their own, we don't get to see just how competent they can be—and isn't that, ultimately, the greatest reward of parenting? We need to make it easier for grown-ups to let go while living in a society that keeps warning them not to. And we need to make sure they won't get arrested for it.

What Is To Be Done?

By trying to keep children safe from all risks, obstacles, hurt feelings, and fears, our culture has taken away the opportunities they need to become successful adults. In treating them as fragile—emotionally, socially, and physically—society actually makes them so.

To combat this problem, we have established a new nonpartisan nonprofit, the Let Grow Foundation. Our goal is to restore resilience by overthrowing the culture of overprotection. We teamed up with Gray, the professor whose research we highlighted above, and FIRE's Shuchman, a New York investment fund manager who is now our chairman.

We are building an organization that seeks to change the social norms, policies, and laws that pressure and intimidate parents, schools, and towns into coddling their kids. We will research the effects of excessive caution, study the link between independence and success, and launch projects to give kids back some free time and free play. Most of all, the Let Grow Foundation will reject the assumption of fragility and promote intellectual, physical, and emotional resilience.

Children know that their parents had more freedom to roam than they do, and more unscheduled time to read or tinker or explore. They also realize that older generations were trusted to roll with some punches, at school and beyond. We hope kids today will start demanding that same independence and respect for themselves. It's their freedom that has been chiseled away, after all.

We want them to insist on their right to engage not just with the physical world, but also with the world of ideas. We want them to hear, read, and voice opinions that go against the grain. We want them to be insulted by the assumption that they and their classmates are so easily hurt that arguments must stop before they start. To this end, we hope to encourage their skepticism about the programs and policies that are ostensibly there to "protect" them from discomfort.

If this effort is successful, we'll soon see kids outside again. Common setbacks will be considered "resilience moments" rather than traumas. Children will read widely, express themselves freely, and work through disagreements without automatically calling on authority figures to solve their problems for them. The more adults step back, the more we believe kids will step up, growing brave in the face of risk and just plain happy in their independence.

Children today are safer and smarter than this culture gives them credit for. They deserve the freedom we had. The country's future prosperity and freedom depend on it.

Photo Credit: Joanna Andreasson

Lenore Skenazy is founder of the book and blog Free-Range Kids, and president of the nonprofit Let Grow Foundation.

Jonathan Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business, author of The Righteous Mind (Pantheon Books), and a co-founder and board member of Let Grow.

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  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Stern School of Business


  • Trollificus||

    Wonder if they were ever affiliated with the School of Hart-Knox.

  • Quixote||

    At New York University (where Stern is located), not only do we offer students an appropriately sheltered environment in return for their tuition payments, but we also do our best to protect faculty members (and especially some of our highly respectable department chairmen), who all too often are exposed to wrongful criticism that inappropriately "crosses the line." For some material documenting one of our more successful efforts in this regard, including the testimony of several faculty officials in criminal court, see:

  • jogibew||

    I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

    This is what I do...

  • Trollificus||

    Wonder if they were ever affiliated with the School of Hart-Knox.

  • Trollificus||

    Gee, this comment s/w gives me warm flashbacks to the time your buddies would set up a flame-war site or some such and the commenting worked for shit. Good times, good times...guess I don't have to repeat that SINCE I'M JUST GONNA DOUBLE, TRIPLE POST ANYFUCKINGWAY.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Rejoice at the election of Donald Trump. It's corrective action, a push back against the mandated helicopter parenting and its result.

    On the other hand, as evidence that free rein might not be the best course of action, I walked to school unsupervised from 1st grade on. And now I frequent an online forum that was once somewhat anti-state, and I often refuse to conform or accept dictates without question. That could be construed as anti-social or anti-government. That's one step below belonging to a militia.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I often refuse to conform or accept dictates without question.

    Me too!

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Is that not the whole point of this site?

    I walked to school unsupervised from first grade on; coincidence? I think not.

  • Enemy of the State||

    Me too. 1st-8th grade a mile each way...

  • gaoxiaen||

    We used to miss the bus on purpose so we could walk.

  • JFree||

    We used to dream of a one mile walk to school each way. We had to walk 25 miles to the mill - uphill each way - and pay the millowner to work there.

  • 1980-f||

    - You're all individuals!
    - I'm not!
    (Life of Brian)

  • Brandybuck||

    On the other hand, the election of Trump does highlight that a good number of "conservatives" have bought into the Left's culture of fragility. Any suggestion that a random Trumpweet might not be entirely accurate is instantly met with howls of outrage.

  • ElDuderino||

    When I was a child, the school bus broke down before reaching my bus stop. The bus was closer to my home than the bus stop, but when I asked to get off the broken down bus, I was denied. So naturally, I pused open the emergency exit and walked home.

    If I heard a child tell me that he sat quietly on the broken down bus for however long it takes to get it fixed or replaced, I'd ground him until he figured out how to escape from his room.

  • Up To The Old Shenanigans||

    I salute you, Mr. Stotch, with your threat to ground someone. Trey Parker and Matt Stone salute you too!

  • An Non||

    I've been in a couple areas where I'd not ground the kid 'til I knew how far the walk was & in what weather--mostly because if it was 'long hike and/or lousy weather,' I'd actually ground the kid for not having the basic sense to just pull out reading or homework instead of walking.

  • CE||

    And now you know why they want to raise kids to follow orders.

  • Tionico||

    oh but you DO belong to a militia. You are a resident somewhere, and thus qualified.

  • Peter Verkooijen||

    Trump was elected because baby boomers and millennials want government to take care of them and want conformism rewarded and outsiders punished. Trump is the next phase of the Obama era; sucking the last bit of life out of the bankrupt welfare state.

  • LongTom||

    In fact, baby boomers were the only age group that voted for Trump over Clinton. The main reason being they are too doddering to cast a rational vote.

  • LongTom||

    In fact, baby boomers were the only age group that voted for Trump over Clinton. The main reason being they are too doddering to cast a rational vote.

  • LongTom||

    In fact, baby boomers were the only age group that voted for Trump over Clinton. The main reason being they are too doddering to cast a rational vote.

  • SQRLSY One||

    This whole article upsets me! Government Almighty should DOOOOO something!!!

    (I am now retreating to my safe space).

  • some guy||

    As much as I hate to see any child be stunted in their development, it is at least nice to know that my own children will have a significant leg up on many of their peers.

    Also, if Haidt is still teaching and you have a chance to take his class you should do it, even if you don't need the credit. You won't regret it.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Why, it seems as if you are saying there is a competitive advantage in the way you raised your children. That surely can't be legal!

  • DajjaI||

    "OK. Tell them all, my son needs some gentleness. He doesn't need any force," the mother says.

  • DajjaI||

    Jimmy Kimmel's Halloween prank can scar children. STOP LAUGHING

  • Bubba Jones||

    I suspect that the parents who film these videos are the parents who already tease and trick their kids.

    My young kids have been coached to recognize sarcasm. I find this to be a skill that is lacking in the general public.

  • ||

    In my opinion as a longtime child psychiatrist, the children in the clips — most of whom appear to be between 3 and 7 years old — are reacting not so much to the temporary loss of candy but to a sense of betrayal that will linger long after their parents own up to the joke.
    Small kids also have rigid moral codes. Stealing is wrong. People are either good or bad. When they hear that their parents have stolen from them, they may wonder: Does that make my parents bad? Does it make me bad?

    What if your entire occupation was a sham that you foist on other people?

  • EscherEnigma||

    Small kids also have rigid moral codes
    Shit, someone actually said this? Without laughing?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    When they hear that their parents have stolen from them, they may wonder: Does that make my parents bad? Does it make me bad?

    Those are both really important things for them to wonder.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I wonder how much of this has to do with the fact that fewer children are growing up with a father in the house. This is purely anecdotal but my experience and that of my friends growing up is that the mothers tended to be more cautious and controlling, while the fathers were more inclined to loosen the reins and let us make mistakes (and deal with the consequences). It ended up with a pretty good balance of safety and freedom.

  • Stoic||

    Nah, I suspect single moms are generally less overprotective than married/coupled moms, if only because they tend to be lower-income. Poorer folks are far more likely to let their kids fend for themselves.

  • ||

    I believe it to be a combination of yours and Enjoy Every Sandwich's assertions.

    IME, *the* helicopter parents aren't exactly single moms but the trophy wives who've become mothers. They don't earn income (or do so frivolously), prioritize the appearance of good parenting above actually raising children, and frequently don't empathize or much associate with children. I certainly grew up around single moms who's husbands subsidized their lifestyle and would fit the category. But there are only so many decisions to be made in the day and working moms and dads, even well-to-do ones, are more willing and ready to foist those decisions and decision-making skills back onto the children.

  • Paloma||

    That's what I want to do, earn income frivolously. That's the best job in the world.

  • ||

  • ||

    Of course I SF the link. Here's the link suggesting that it's not as glamorous as it looks.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    When we got our son his dirt bike we were watching him practice his first day. My wife laughed and said "this is why he needs a mom and a dad. A dad to say 'go for it!' and a mom to go AAACK!"

  • ElDuderino||

    I never had a dirt-bike, but my parents did encourage various forms of freestyle, bmx, skateboarding, roller-skating, etc... they perhaps were unaware of the extent of my risk taking with these activities but not terribly naive about them.

  • esteve7||

    Jordan peterson talks about this all the time. ESP regarding overbearing mothers. Biologically women are more likely to be overprotective because it's necessary when their child is an infant, and it's up to the father to loosen those chains as they grow up.

    My cousin is in the exact situation. He's 14 but his mom doesn't even let him walk down the street to go to the park to play Pokémon, and he doesn't have a bike because she doesn't want him biking outside the neighborhood, so he stays cooped up at home. It's really sad. The dad needs to push back on that crap

  • Up To The Old Shenanigans||

    My brother and I were latchkey kids when my parents divorced. We lived with our dad.

  • The Last American Hero||

    +1 red rider BB gun.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    On a related note, Stranger Things 2 is out tomorrow.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    One aspect that did not get mentioned is liability. If and [eventually...] when little first grader pokes one of her peers or a teacher with a butter knife, all legal hell breaks loose and the school system is sued as they "knew or should have known" this was going to happen and did nothing to intervene and prevent it, when they had a clear opportunity and it was well within their power to do so.

    Without tort reform this ain't going nowhere.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    It's OK if you use a cigar.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Only in the Whitehouse.

  • Tionico||

    but make certain it is lit first.

  • CE||

    tort reform? how about closing the schools, just in case. if only one kid is saved....

  • Up To The Old Shenanigans||

    I agree. Let's close the schools! Since I don't have any children, why should I pay for other people's children's education anyways?

  • Whorton||

    I have long had a theory, that if public schools were closed and parents were required to teach their own children OR schools instituted without ANY governmental edicts requiring professional teaching credentials, (and could be staffed by heaven forbid, "Laypersons.") Such students would outperform the hell out of public schools.

    Teach kids to read, to write and mathematics, give them critical thinking skills and NO internet until they are 16 and they would outperform public schools. . .

    Remember the generation that got us to the moon had neither the internet, computers (generally) or social media.

  • Whorton||

    I have long had a theory, that if public schools were closed and parents were required to teach their own children OR schools instituted without ANY governmental edicts requiring professional teaching credentials, (and could be staffed by heaven forbid, "Laypersons.") Such students would outperform the hell out of public schools.

    Teach kids to read, to write and mathematics, give them critical thinking skills and NO internet until they are 16 and they would outperform public schools. . .

    Remember the generation that got us to the moon had neither the internet, computers (generally) or social media.

  • workerant||

    The premise that a kid can decide his/her sexuality as different than their own physical biology should be strictly regulated. Maybe at age 16 it could be legal to discuss trans-sexual issues with them. There is also incredible new pressures on kids because they can access online porn so easily these days. Reverse-racist porn aims directly at young white girls and makes fun of white boys and men's penis sizes and encourages young white girls to only date blacks or otherwise experience sexual frustration.This is child abuse and brainwashing no different than used by Stalin. I used to vote democratic but realize now how much I didn't realize was going on. I hope Libertarians can come up with a better Presidential candidate than Gary Johnson next time.

  • Bubba Jones||

    You watch porn for the dialog?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Just the turn on talk.

  • ||

    I assumed that through his entire upbringing he was only able to lay hands on a single hetero interracial porno and is bitter about it.

  • Michaelel||

    So your takeaway from the article was children need more regulation?

  • 1980-f||

    I think Stalin's idea of brainwashing - if he even had one - was rather more intense than your example.

  • Whorton||

    I suspect the same thing was at work during the 70's and 80's with written porn such as "Penthouse forum" and other such garbage. The internalization of sexuality is insidious and it does not take much to offset the normal balance with infinite pictures or stories that have been photoshopped endlessly or edited worse than Russian based presidential campaign adverts.

  • AlgerHiss||

    "A police chief in New Albany, Ohio, went on record saying kids shouldn't be outside on their own till age 16,...."

    The thought of this "police chief" having powers of arrest is truly disgusting.

  • Brother Kyfho||

    This "chief" will be the first one shot, come the revolution. Hopefully, by a 14 year old.

  • Finrod||

    Mike Teevee: Wait till I get a real one. Colt 45. Pop won't let me have one yet, will ya, Pop?
    Mr. Teevee: Not till you're 12, son.

    Ahh, 1971.

  • 1980-f||

    And that was in West Germany.

  • Tionico||

    male of shemale?

  • Number 2||

    Hmmm...An entire generation of young people has been brought up to rely on higher authority to care for them and to avoid self-reliance as dangerous. This is, of course, same generation that supported Bernie Sanders and has a positive view of socialism. Purely a coincidence, I am sure.

    And I am also sure that those in authority have absolutely no vested interest in encouraging this sort of mentality of dependency. It would be completely paranoid of me to think that, wouldn't it?

  • GroundTruth||

    Ditto on the whole comment, particularly re Sanders.

    If you're paranoid, at least you're not alone.

  • CptNerd||

    Even paranoids have enemies.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    "When everyone is out to get you, paranoia just makes good sense."

    -Dr. Johnny Fever

  • Sevo||

    "This is, of course, same generation that supported Bernie Sanders and has a positive view of socialism."

    And the generation behind this was rousted from the classrooms by the teachers to "march the streets in resistance to Trump!"
    IOWs, made props in the teachers' political theater.

  • Paint Thinner||

    Hey Drumpf's cocksucker, the generation was created by the assholes who borrowed and spent like your mother was being used for relief of various bodily fluids.

    Blame it on the fucking parents, the teachers are not their role models.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    It's a rich tapestry, And FYI, Trump isn't that bad. But feel free to think of Hillary and just imagine 'what might have been'.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Kids tend to rebel from parents, so there tends to be only so much time parents have to reverse the brainwashing going on at school. Kids spend about 5-10 hours at school about 160 days a year.

    If schools did well at teaching kids and less brainwashing then parents could add knowledge to those kids rather than spend so much time trying to reverse that lefty nonsense this is school dogma.

  • ||

    Trump seems to be an exception to this. Our opinions at home match up with LotS above, yet the boys come home from school loudly declaring the horribleness of all things Trump. At least the teachers are just name calling and not teaching anything substantive.

  • DenverJ||

    If my kid came home spouting anything political that he had learned from his teacher, I'd go ballistic. The teacher, the principle, and I would have a little meeting, and the volume of my voice would probably cause car alarms to go off.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Kids tend to rebel from parents [...]
    Only in the short term. Many kids will rebel for a period (typically as teenagers) but come 'round as young adults. There's a reason that the single biggest predictor for adult religion and politics is the religion and politics of the parents.

  • Paloma||

    Teachers are self sacrificing heroes who are underpaid, overworked, and even have to pony up for pens, notebooks and study materials for their classrooms. They should be heeded, honored, and never criticized or blamed for anything.

  • Ham_Bone||

    You can say that again!

  • Paloma||

    Teachers are self sacrificing heroes who are underpaid, overworked, and even have to pony up for pens, notebooks and study materials for their classrooms. They should be heeded, honored, and never criticized or blamed for anything.

  • Ham_Bone||


  • Paint Thinner||

    That generation was brought up by whom?

    The assholes who were part of the great borrow and spend generation, and whine about how irresponsible millennials are for not wanting something like that for themselves?

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    "It Takes A Village"

  • Whorton||

    That pesky Thomas Dewey. . .

  • creech||

    Nice timing. I have to say a few words later today at a memorial service for a boyhood friend and it triggered some memories I can share. At age 13, our parents permitted us to leave our suburban homes and travel to the big city, ride trolleys and subways and etc. as long as we were home for supper. Lots of adventures, meeting at least one dude who wanted to take us to his apt. and show us dirty pictures; buying cigarettes; talking a foreman into letting us roam around a soda bottling plant and watch the workers; entering a bar to ask for some exotic out of town bottle caps; waiting for trolleys in "rough" neighborhoods; etc. Good times I wouldn't have traded for adult-supervised ball games or scheduled play dates.

  • Qsl||

    At 13 I was hanging around a bar, cleaning up or stocking things to earn some extra cash to feed my blossoming video game addiction. The in-house band would rehearse, and the drummer would breakdown the intricacies of the music in the breaks, giving me a deeper appreciation that is with me to this day. He had a snakeskin snare that was perpetually detuning.

    Mostly, it was being in the adult world as an observer not as an encumbrance. I suppose no one thought to ask where my parents were as it wasn't an imposition (a trick many college students have yet to master).

    And numerous other events that would be frowned upon today; how can kids know themselves unless they have a little space?

  • Ron||

    at 8 I was installing a comp roof at 13 I worked at a gas station, many of my friends were using chainsaws to fall trees. not unusual for my generation

  • Paloma||

    In Puerto Rico one afternoon when I picked up my daughters from school, we got a flat tire outside a little restaurant. Three boys, the oldest maybe 9 or 10, and the other two about 8, came along and offered to change it for a dollar. I told them sure, and the older one proceeded to supervise the other two changing it. They did a good job and they each got a dollar.

  • Bill||

    Ahh, so there really is child slave labor going on in the world!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I would be willing to bet some of those bar patrons were watching out for you and would help if something bad happened to you.

    Now those men are called suspected pedophiles. To scaredy people, Men cannot be just a helpful person without there being a bad motive.

  • Qsl||

    True enough, but that is generally considered being a decent person. Unfortunately being a decent person today is calling the cops at what appears to be a still wet-behind-the-ears youth sweeping the floor at a bar...

    Likewise, my dad mentioned all the boys going to school with their rifles on the first day of hunting season. The principal would store the arms in his office, and issued them out as classes ended. You can imagine how well that would play today.

  • Up To The Old Shenanigans||

    Damn! I had to have the luck of growing up in suburban Cincinnati. I would have loved to have ridden around on trains and subways at 13. At least I got the chance to do that in Japan at 23.

  • Deep Lurker||

    David Friedman made the point some years back:

    "I have long held that there are two fundamental views of children: That they are pets who can talk, or that they are small people who do not yet know very much. The wrong one is winning."
    - http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.....dhood.html

    As the "pets who can talk" view gains ascendency, we are seeing more and more leash-laws.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Good one! And I wonder if there's any relation between this and the weird fetish of pet owners referring to their pets as "furbabies" and themselves as "pet parents" or even "pet grandparents".

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Hey, lay off my grand dogs!

  • Paloma||

    And giving them vegan pet food.

  • Deep Lurker||

    Replying to myself to point out a comment in the blog post I linked to above. The meme of "Parent's Disease" deserves to be more widely known.

    "Then suddenly entirely too many of these parents remember all the stuff that they enjoyed doing in that space, see kids in that space that are the age they were then, and then they lose their freaking minds, and clamp down hard in over-controlling terror, and forbid all the freedom that they enjoyed when they were kids.

    "And when called out on it, they get angry, defensive, and start their sentences with nonsense phrases such as 'Speaking as a parent, ...'"

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Great article. You single handily pointed out major modern problems I see for kids. Not really being able to be a kid.

    Halloween: Adult supervised activities where candy is passed out in controlled environments and not being able to roam neighborhoods and collect candy door-to-door. There also seems to be efforts to ruin the good costumes that scare or shock other people.

    As you also mentioned, the constant adult supervised after school activities that don't allow kids to work out their own play time and problem solving.

    Mixed with an American education system that used college to teach what High School should have, the USA is in deep trouble.

  • Whorton||

    Of note, we live in a middle class center american suburb. This year we had ZERO trick or treaters. . Driving around later that evening, I did not even see a single tree treated to the indignities of a good toilet papering.

    What have we come to?

  • Kroneborge||

    Excellent article. Of course it being in Reason is kind of preaching to the choir no?

    Also, I tried to go to the foundation to donate, but the website seems to be down...

  • EscherEnigma||

    Yeah, you old-farts screwed up.

  • Paint Thinner||

    God forbid a first lady should do a fluff program of eating veggies and exercising


  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Now you're gettin' it!

  • KDN||

    Not exactly a fluff program considering that it came with legislation mandating unwanted food be provided by perpetually underfunded public schools.

  • Trollificus||

    Paint Thinner, you proceed as if these folks have never been trolled before. Also, the straw men you apparently use in your little "arguments" are not real. Pretending they are, and are posting here, is sure to throw off your aim.

    Hence your utter failure.

  • BYODB||

    The idea that the next generation of kids is going to be absolutely terrible is nothing new, but maybe it will be good for everyone to finally get off of Millennial's backs and have them beat up an entirely new generation for basically the same shit. I imagine the Millennial's will do the same thing that was done to them, as there are few things more satisfying than blind revenge.

    By all means, clutch your pearls and tell me more about how 'the young' are going to ruin everything when objectively that already happened almost a century ago. I'm sure this generation will be way worse than the one's that gave us the Fed, social security, and income taxes among many other 'crazy' ideas. Sheesh.

  • Ron||

    most of my friends have millennial age children and every one is hard working and studious but then they are also all conservative to libertarian leaning

  • BYODB||

    I just find it amusing to watch each generation bad mouth the one that comes after them, as if that generation is an organism instead of a group of unaffiliated individuals. It's a modern version of astrology, if you ask me.

    Even if one assumes that there are common characteristics, one could make the argument that those common characteristics are the direct result of the behaviors of the generation that raised them.


  • loveconstitution1789||

    There are undeniable generational characteristics. Most Americans share many of the same values and characteristics but there are distinct things that Greatest Gen people do that Gen Xers don't.

    We call it generation characteristics but really its just how the World was when you grew up and how you acted going into adulthood.

    My old Greatest gen relatives are in pictures playing with no shoes. No Shoes! Not because they chose to not wear shoes but because they only had one pair of shoes for church and school not an extra pair to play in.

    Gen Zers and Millennials generally have a tough time counting cash if the register does not tell them exactly what to do. Watching them figure tips on their phones is hilarious. Main point is that they use machines more than their brain.

    Gen Xer and Boomer parents have huge populations of helicopter parents and have raised sissies and kids dumber than they are.

  • BYODB||

    It's like saying 'kids these days don't know how to use a slide rule!' and thinking that's a bad thing. Or saying 'kids these days don't know how to cook a shoe like my grandparents did' and that's a bad thing. It isn't.

    Why are guilt by association and collective thinking more ok in this arena than others, one might ask?

    It's a feature of humanity that we always think this next generation is going to be our doom. You can see this in writing going back hundreds of years. People just don't like things that are different.

  • KDN||

    Or saying 'kids these days don't know how to cook a shoe like my grandparents did' and that's a bad thing. It isn't.

    I am assured by celebrity chefs everywhere that this is absolutely a bad thing. How dare you only want the prime cuts of meat, offal is where the true flavor of the animal lies.

  • vek||

    Uhhh, but sometimes civilizations DO go down hill. I would argue American political positions have done nothing but get worse every generation since maybe 1900. We've got better on maybe a handful of issues (racist laws etc) and gotten worse on everything else.

    Group dynamics exist, anyone who doesn't accept this is a fool. Statistical fact are real and confer valuable data. Individuals need to be treated as individuals, but you also can't ignore how groups TEND to be on average when discussing society wide issues. I'm an older millennial, and it's obvious that kids a couple years younger than me are fragile as fuck. I was literally one of the last kids in this country that got to ride my bike everywhere and didn't get trophies for losing... And I can tell that that made a difference at a statistical level, which of course many studies verify.

  • vek||

    Uhhh, but sometimes civilizations DO go down hill. I would argue American political positions have done nothing but get worse every generation since maybe 1900. We've got better on maybe a handful of issues (racist laws etc) and gotten worse on everything else.

    Group dynamics exist, anyone who doesn't accept this is a fool. Statistical fact are real and confer valuable data. Individuals need to be treated as individuals, but you also can't ignore how groups TEND to be on average when discussing society wide issues. I'm an older millennial, and it's obvious that kids a couple years younger than me are fragile as fuck. I was literally one of the last kids in this country that got to ride my bike everywhere and didn't get trophies for losing... And I can tell that that made a difference at a statistical level, which of course many studies verify.

  • Whorton||

    Spoke a poet in 1988:

    "Every generation
    Blames the one before
    And all of their frustrations
    Come beating on your door

    I know that I'm a prisoner
    To all my Father held so dear
    I know that I'm a hostage
    To all his hopes and fears. . ."

  • NoVaNick||

    I imagine the Millennial's will do the same thing that was done to them, as there are few things more satisfying than blind revenge.

    Well the GenY/issy/snowflake generation is too scared to have sex, so at least they won't be reproducing in great numbers.

  • Up To The Old Shenanigans||

    Then we will get a generation that is as small as Gen X is now. We can call it Gen XX.

  • Whorton||

    Needless to say, with declining population numbers, that is almost a death knell for our system of values.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I think the concern is not with the generation itself, but rather with their elders who won't push back on the very natural tendency that every human has to want everything his own way. It's particularly disturbing to see this codified to the point that dissenters get genuine punishments, like being busted and having your children forcibly taken from you because you let them go to the store to buy a candy bar.

  • EscherEnigma||

    I think the concern is not with the generation itself [...]
    The constant barrage of articles complaining about Millennials argues otherwise.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    When I was a boy I was what today would be called a "free range child". We lived in a hilly area of Los Angeles and, once homework was done, our parents at work, I'd run with my friends over hill and dale. The only real rule was to be back home by 5 when the parents got home.

    Years later my wife and I lived with our adopted son in the hills north of Los Angeles. For his 12th birthday we got him a dirt bike. He could -- and did -- ride over 10 miles of back country, sometimes alone and sometimes with a friend or two. Only rule? Be home before the sun went down. He could have gotten hurt, but never did. He could have gotten lost, but never did. What he did get was independent and self-confident. So much so that when a schoolmate made a racist joke directed at him he told me about it but insisted I not go to the principal; he would take care of it himself. And he did. The other kid was goalie on the soccer team he was playing that weekend and he scored three goals on him, each more embarrassing to the goalie than the one before. After the third he came to the bench and said "I told you I'd take care of it"

    Give me that kid over the yawpers any day of the week

  • Robert||

    Here's my favorite tip from a suburban paper this year: "Before bobbing for apples—a favorite Halloween game—reduce the risk of bacteria by thoroughly rinsing the apples under cool running water. As an added precaution, use a produce brush to remove surface dirt."

    Please give your colleagues a break. They have to fill those papers w something.

    Well, I guess that applies to you as well. So you make work for each other this way. It reminds me of a 'Poon phony cover long ago: The New York Review of Us. It included an article, approximately, "Chomsky on Mailer on [another 2-3 names] on Chomsky".

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    A Chomsky lead orgy? Hot.

  • CE||

    Things we played with when I was a kid ("back in my day...."): guns, firecrackers, fire, bows and arrows, knives, homemade spears, ropes, bikes, snowmobiles, dirt bikes, gasoline, etc.

    Places we played (unsupervised): the yard, the street, the rooftop, in trees, the swamp, the woods, the cornfield, the neighbors' cornfield, the lake, the creek, abandoned houses, snowbanks, etc.

    Tools we used (unsupervised): lawnmowers, welder, cutting torch, drills, power saws, grinders, hand tools, etc.

  • Conchfritters||

    Back in my dad's day (the 1950s) you used to be able to go to the hardware store and buy dynamite.

  • sudon't||

    Do kids still play "Kill the Guy with the Ball" during recess? Does recess still exist?

    Who had the lead-melting kit as a child? I still have a couple of the lead cowboys, probably painted with lead paint, too. What could be more fun for a seven-year-old than molten lead?

  • Rhywun||

    "Take the kids with you, or save your errand for another time."

    THIS is why I see so many damn kids on my subway commute, at rush hour, when the cars are packed like sardines. Nothing more pleasant than that experience heightened with the presense of multiple howling infants and kicking toddlers.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Yeah, I love strollers on the train during rush hour.


  • Whorton||

    Geez, most of the kids these days are not even bothering with getting drivers licenses or cars. That one still amazes me. I had a stepson that joined the Marine corp at age 18 without having acquired a driver's license or having any desire too. . .

  • NoVaNick||

    So Lenore, have you been branded as a member of the AltRight yet?

    Don't you know that encouraging self sufficiency is one of their subtle tools to make us less dependent upon enlightened civil servants, and so will result in greater wealth, racial, and gender inequality?

    BTW-while I have no problem with kids bobbing for apples, its a great way for them to spread germs to each other, much like sharing toothbrushes or drinking glasses, and lots of kids are sick this time of year.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Poison dog lips!

  • Earth Skeptic||

    I can think of two, perhaps related, factors.

    First, acting like a helicopter parent is not to indulge the child but the parent. Whether parental fears are rational or not, enduring the anxiety of letting kids go off by themselves is way harder than organizing play dates and acting as chauffeur. Add in a bit of ego projection, and selfish parents will never let their offspring fend for themselves.

    Second, as pointed out above, life is SOOO much safer and easier now. But we evolved with more real danger and still carry the biological baggage that wants to be used. That inspires us to invent and inflate risk, so we can feed the anxiety monkey. Of course, we end up looking like pussies.

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: The Fragile Generation

    This will only produce young adults who are too afraid to leave mommy and daddy's basement when they get older.
    Then these overly protected kids won't know how to handle themselves when they are older as to how to get a job, how to relate to adults, how to survive in the real world.
    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  • esteve7||

    Opposite, my cousin can't wait to get High School over with so he can leave home.

  • flashgordon||

    I read this article with mixed feelings after recently finishing the raising of my two boys. It is astounding to me how the non-statistical thinkers got so much control of what kids were allowed to do and I support Lenore in her effort to allow freedom of action for youth. On the skills side I think I did all right, made sure my boys knew how to use power tools, knew their way around a car, made sure they had a basic sense of direction. I used to hobo trains as kind of a beatnik striving when I was in college and I strain to think about how many millennials nowadays would try something like that. It's the sports side where I ask if I went soft. I coached a lot of different sports. There were kids at lots of different levels. You knew as a coach and a parent that a sense of accomplishment was important for the personal development of all the kids on the team. And I guess I would admit that sometimes I sacrificed absolute team performance to try to give some kid who maybe wasn't so skilled a chance to feel good about something they did. So was I that guy giving out trophies just for showing up? Not literally, but I ask myself about it.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Not if that second-string kid earned the chance to play. If he put in the effort, and was just not competitive due to genetics, I think you did the right thing.

    On the other hand, if he just showed up (sometimes), and did not really try or care, then you might have been indulging feelings (yours and his).

  • Paloma||

    Plus if the other kids LOST because of someone else's ineptness, they are going to give that kid a hard time. Despite participation trophies, kids know who can play and who can't.

  • Tassie||

    I think you did the right thing. You helped some children learn they have value as a member of a team beyond physical competence. I'm a boomer but I still feel the pain of being one of only two children not allowed to play during a softball championship game. We won by over 20 runs. Surely, that coach could have let us in if for only one inning - or a single play for that matter - after having shown up to every practice, played every game, hauled equipment, cheered on teammates, etc.

    There is something to be said for being a decent human being.

  • vcx||

    We feel so sorry for the kids today. Swimming, boating,hunting,camping,we learned things today we have 18-year-old inexperienced drivers. I started at 9. Worse, the thinking process is bad.
    I had a professor who survived WW2 as a soldier in the Red army Northern front. Then with his family escaped to the West. Well give it 20 years when unions will resurge and the same ol problem of the 1930's rear their heads.

  • Jim Strom||

    What a Catch-22 this will place on parents who helicopter and yet aim to raise the "best" possible children; good parenting requires "bad" parenting.

  • Finrod||

    "Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment."

  • Enemy of the State||

    Raising a nation of pussies...

  • Dr Fallout||

    ... go on...

  • Dr Fallout||

    ... go on...

  • AndyWingall||

    The fragile douches from this generation share a singular trait: their brains are overwhelmed by feminine hormones.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Careful, Andy. My former national champ mountain biking daughter, who powered through her undergrad degree in 3 years while fighting a serious illness, got her doctor of PT, puts in long hours with desperately ailing children, and still likes to shred downhill trails, might just embarass your hormones.

  • AndyWingall||

    Sorry I triggered you, fragile one. But it sounds like your daughter has a good balance of masculinity. Not that she's butch, but she might have those masculine chemicals that provide one with reason and sense and perseverance. I've never met a "masculine" leftist in my life. Even the fem-nazi dykes wilt like wax under a flame when confronted with conflict.

  • vek||

    It's called being an exception to the rule. One major flaw in modern progressive libertarians is that they try to ignore that real differences DO exist between different groups. Individuals need to be treated as such, but women are not the same as men on average. That's why men stomp women into the ground at many tasks, and women do the same to men on others.

    Men have very much been demasculanized, which is because of us allowing too much female mindset to take over society. Welfare, trophies for losers, no danger allowed ever etc are all female lines of thought. They've created systems that stifle men because we let them get away with it. It's not healthy for society and we need to put an end to it. A more normal balance of male/female thinking must be restored.

  • Tionico||

    Friend of mine grew up in Gretna Lousiana in the 50's and 60's. When he was 12, he and a pal packed up their old pirogue (literally......) dog, and .22 rifle, a few stores and camping supplies, and their parents were fine with the pair of them taking off in the boat for a week or ten days of knocking about the bayous. They camped, lived off the land, slept, paddled/rowed, fished, killed and ate game, didn't get sick, lost, or hungry.
    Today, two 12 year old kids with that rifle would have it confiscated and their Dads would be in jail for "reckless endangerment" of their boys and the whole parish. Just one instance of the freedom he had when growing up.

  • Tionico||

    I grew up in Orange COunty Calif in the 50's and 60's. Paper route at 11, won a competition for new subscription starts, prize was a day trip on the ferry across to Catalina Island. Dad dropped me off in San Pedro on his way to work, I spent the entire day on the boat, roaming about the island, the trip back..... no one else even knew how I had gotten aboard, let alone my name. Dad met me at day's end after I'd taken a bus to near home, on my own. I was not yet 12. When I was 15, I had the freedom to ride my bike anywhere I pleased, just be back home in time for supper (never had a watch, never was late). By the time I'd finished high school I had ridden that bike ALL OVER southern Calif from Camp Pendleton to Point Concepcion, up into the hills north of WHittier, Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead, Lake Elsinor, March Air Force Base, and everywhere in between. 100 and 150 miles in a day were not unusual. Once in a while Mom would ask me where I had been at some time period a few days earlier, and I'd think.... and remember. She'd then tell me that Mrs So and So thought she had seen me at about that time and place, but must have been mistaken because that was too far from home. Yup, it WAS me....

  • Tionico||

    With such verification of my stories, she learned to trust me completely. I only called for a ride home one time.. it started raining like crazy. I was told.. if you're big enough to get ourself OUT there, you're big enough to get yourself home again, I'm not picking you up again. SO what did I do? I learned to be able to deal with anything that came up, and still get home in time for supper. Fifty years later I still take off on the bike and do hundred mile days. ALWAYS make it back home safely. And I still wear the same size clothes I did in high school, too, and weigh whithin ten pounds what I did then.

  • Up To The Old Shenanigans||

    Shit! And I thought all my DRIVING in SoCal from 1999-2008 was a big deal! I wouldn't even have figured how to safely ride my bike from Murrieta to Lake Elsinore:( Nor even from San Marcos to Camp Pendleton.

    Kudos to you! Your post brings back great memories of my time in SoCal:)

    If California ever goes libertarian at some point and the cost of living decreases somewhat, I will move back. At least I can try riding a bike from March AFB to Riverside.

  • sudon't||

    When I think of myself at 14, in 1975, working a service station, pumping gas, washing windshields, checking oil and fixing flats, and carrying a huge wad of cash, (no cash register), I simply can't see fourteen-year-olds doing that now. Who would even allow it?

    Like you, I rode my bike all over, beginning in first grade when I got a Schwinn Stingray. This was in the city, though, south side of Chicago, but I visited all the neighboring suburbs. When I was about ten, I was going from bar to bar, shining shoes. Biker bars, hillbilly bars, gay bars, dive bars, and every other type of clientele the city offers. If a ten-year-old were caught doing that today, it'd be a national news item. I was able to turn that into a bar-cleaning gig, and I knew how to set up a bar and stock coolers by age eleven or twelve. By age fifteen, I was well-known enough to get served in many, knew how to act, and how to tip properly. Had my own apartment two months after my eighteenth birthday. By age 28, after having worked as a DJ, bartender, manager and door guy, I owned a bar.

    I had a million adventures as a child, out in the World, doing whatever. Adults, especially men, hit on me, and I don't need an apology, decades later. I just handled it - brushed them off, and kept going. Occasionally, bad things happened to me, but I wouldn't trade the freedom I had for any amount of "safety", that's for sure. I'm so grateful I grew up when I did.

  • ChrisC517||

    It's an overly litigious society that creates an overprotective environment. Also, trophy or not, that kid knows he came in 8th. The trophy just reminds him now.

  • L.G. Balzac||

    Some methods or aspects of veal production are controversial due to ... welfare concerns.

  • Cloudbuster||

    A police chief in New Albany, Ohio, went on record saying kids shouldn't be outside on their own till age 16

    New Albany is Les Wexner's (former CEO The Limited) baby. He took a quiet, quaint, midly prosperous small town outside Columbus and turned it into a soulless, over-planned, over-regulated wasteland of eerily identical shopping centers and high-end McMansions for upwardly-mobile Columbusites. I despise the place.

  • Dadlobby||

    It began in the 1970's with government subsidized single mother homes, the first government regulated parents. This led to the systemic disenfranchisement of fathers from children. Single mother homes have gone form about 6% to close to 50%, in the African American family even higher. Occurring at the same time was the villainization of men at the hands of feminism and a government which used the PC policies to further regulate parents. Schools were feminized and liberalized (see any male teachers lately?) and much of this PC response to children stems from that. Intact parent households see the government regulation and react to prevent it form happening to them. We now have a government where Feds subsidize single parent homes (mostly single mother) through Title IVd of the Social Security Act and then steps in to "help" by regulating activities of children in school, public (police actions), Social "service" agencies, and (anti) family courts. It iwll continue until government is reduced.

  • Occam's Stubble||

    I was a kid in the 1960s. We always played outside. My parents never knew where I was, except when I came home with a case of Poison Ivy. Then they knew I'd been playing at the creek.

    I think all this helicopter parenting really got started with the publicity around the kidnapping and murder of Adam Walsh. As usual, the press blew it out of proportion. It was truly a tragedy but the chance of the same thing happening to your child was minuscule.

    Maybe there's hope....

  • Davulek||

    This why why half of American males are seeping vaginas.

  • plusafdotcom||

    The part that begins with reflects EXACTLY something I've been aware of for perhaps forty years.

    I call it "The Catastrophization of American Society." I first noticed it in my first wife... if virtually anything slightly bad happened, she'd extrapolate it into the Worst Possible Resulting Scenario and begin to worry about it or try to protect the world from it.

    I think it's some kind of psychological problem that's not addressed enough publicly, if recognized at all by the Psychological Industry.

    The classic archetypal example today is "Entertainment News" programs, where, again, no matter what happens, IT COULD MEAN DISASTER FOR ALL OF US!!!!!" And viewers, apparently enjoying the Adrenaline High this fear-spike gives them, keep coming back for more, thus encouraging Wolf Blitzer to spend at least 26 hours a day in his Situation Room.

    Remember "The West Wing"? Even back then, The Prez rarely was called into his "Situation Room" and he made for a better role model than we actually got with any President since then.


    Playing on grass is against local regulations... I'm at a loss for words

  • mttiro67||

    No one in the education establishment has any common sense any more. The comment about "not playing on grass" tells you everything you need to know about today's educators. Some administrators have cancelled recess in elementary schools so kids won't get hurt playing games with each other. In 1960, when I was 10 years old, I took my bicycle and rode a mile to the grocery store and got some groceries for my mom and siblings and brought them home safely. When I was 12 I got a daily paper route with 150 customers. I kept that job for 5 years. At age 13 we would ride our bikes 5 miles across town to play baseball in the city park with the other kids who lived on that side of town. I babysat my 4 younger siblings when I was 12 years old so my mom and dad could run errands and attend meetings after school and work. When I was older and had kids of my own, we happily used the 12-year-old daughter of a church friend to babysit our two boys who were 5 and 2 at the time. That was in 1981. And on and on I could go.

    Yes, there is a problem today, and it comes directly from the educational system, which has been controlled by the Democrat Party for 100 years, and the nonsensical multiculturalism and identity politics being taught to successive generations of American students. We're now into our 3rd generation, at least, of this foolishness, and the results are very easy to see for anyone who cares to look.

  • NPC1991||

    Even if you leave your child to do things on their own, the smartphone safety net is with them. When we were on our own, the nearest payphone might have been several blocks away. So you needed to think for yourself, you could not check on Facebook for the latest blither from someone else. Our children do not have much exposure to "unspecified risk"; not danger, but the risk of making a poor choice. Like bringing home the wrong dish soap, or laundry detergent because you forgot to write it down and had to make a choice or come home without it. Then as a reminder, you had to walk back and get the right one. After a couple of times, you learned to be certain what you were shopping for. It is this lack of "unspecified risk" that prevents our kids from learning how to think on their feet and make "good choices" on their own! By trial and error. We survived, why won't they. But try to take their technology away, and you would think they were losing an eye!

  • BarbaraV.||

    Self reliance is liberating.

    I love this analogy that occurs in nature.

    When a butterfly is about to emerge from its cocoon, it undergoes a fight for life with the cocoon that protected them while developing. The fight strengthens their wings. If one were to cut open the cocoon to "help" the butterfly it will emerge but not be able to fly.

  • Phoebes||

    The authors are conflating different contemporary social phenomena in a way that weakens their argument. People of color talking about the microacressions they experience in our society has nothing to do with resilience or being left to handle enough conflict as children. Allowing children freedom has nothing to do with college students being permitted to wear offensive costumes, as Erika Christakis misleadingly frames it. The cause of giving children more autonomy does not need to get conflated with racism and white fragility.

  • Could not connect to remo||

    You could not be more wrong. EVERYTHING today is considered to be "racist" flying in the face of its very specific definition "Discrimination based on the color of one's skin or ethnicity" "White fragility?" Now, that's racist.

    Do you think that Black kids who join gangs at a higher rate than their white counterparts are better able to cope on their own than white kids?

    Apparently not when you read the crime statistics.

  • LongTom||

    The same old longing for some nonexistent "good old days", complete with handwringing about how soft and veal-like today'kids are. It's garbage, the same tired complaints voiced by allegedly cogent observers since Suetonius and Livy. The anecdotes told here are undoubtedly incomplete and in any case are just that, anecdotes. Facts are better. The leading cause of death among children aged 1 to 14 in the US is "preventable accidents" according to CDC, and that death rate was cut in half between 1998 and 2013. As adults, we tend to glamorize the stupid risks we took as children when unsupervised.

  • Could not connect to remo||

    Except that today, everything a child does unsupervised is labeled as a "stupid risk." THAT is one the MAIN POINTS of this article. Cause and effect learning is a primary and necessary foundation for intellectual competence and social competence and children are being denied those experiences.

  • Could not connect to remo||

    NOTE TO MODERATORS: The REASON commenting system is responsible for repeating my post six times and not myself.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    We know, man. We all know about the sqrls. Don't worry.

  • Could not connect to remo||

    Except that today, everything a child does unsupervised is labeled as a "stupid risk." THAT is one the MAIN POINTS of this article. Cause and effect learning is a primary and necessary foundation for intellectual competence and social competence and children are being denied those experiences.

  • Could not connect to remo||

    Except that today, everything a child does unsupervised is labeled as a "stupid risk." THAT is one the MAIN POINTS of this article. Cause and effect learning is a primary and necessary foundation for intellectual competence and social competence and children are being denied those experiences.

  • Could not connect to remo||

    Except that today, everything a child does unsupervised is labeled as a "stupid risk." THAT is one the MAIN POINTS of this article. Cause and effect learning is a primary and necessary foundation for intellectual competence and social competence and children are being denied those experiences.

  • Could not connect to remo||

    Except that today, everything a child does unsupervised is labeled as a "stupid risk." THAT is one the MAIN POINTS of this article. Cause and effect learning is a primary and necessary foundation for intellectual competence and social competence and children are being denied those experiences.

  • Could not connect to remo||

    Except that today, everything a child does unsupervised is labeled as a "stupid risk." THAT is one the MAIN POINTS of this article. Cause and effect learning is a primary and necessary foundation for intellectual competence and social competence and children are being denied those experiences.

  • Could not connect to remo||

    Except that today, everything a child does unsupervised is labeled as a "stupid risk." THAT is one the MAIN POINTS of this article. Cause and effect learning is a primary and necessary foundation for intellectual competence and social competence and children are being denied those experiences.

  • sudon't||

    I play Grand Theft Auto a lot. It's supposed to be an adult game, but of course kids play it. In the game, you're supposed to be a criminal, building a criminal enterprise. You can buy all kinds of weapons, and military vehicles such as fighter jets and attack choppers, and use them against other players. And you have to move your "product" around in this dangerous world, to sell it. It's a multiplayer online game, and the idea is, you put together a crew of online friends to help you defend your product against attacks.

    Instead, what an amazing number of young people do is try to play alone. The game tries to make this difficult. They can't, or won't, make friends, so instead they've taken to glitching empty public lobbies so that there's no one to interfere with them moving their product, no one to attack them. They make a million dollars, (of in-game money), simply for driving from one end of the map to another.

    Not only aren't they embarrassed about cheating the game this way, they shamelessly whine about other players playing the game the way it was intended, which is to say, attacking their rivals. When I was a kid, you never wanted to give the slightest hint that you might be a "pussy". These kids actually feel entitled to be "left alone", and seem quite sure they're standing on the moral high-ground when they demand it. It's the GTA version of demanding a participation trophy, I think, and another symptom of the way kids are raised now.

  • Hank Phillips||

    What about a government program to shoot these kids' dogs... would that help?

  • StoneW||

    My twin 17 year old daughters each responded to this article, shared here.

    Daughter 1:
    From a "fragile generation" perspective I see a lot of flaws in the authors argument. A lot of my disagreement comes from the privilege that the author was writing from. For example: the idea that someone calling out a micro-aggression is bad. To me this placed minority youth at a severe disadvantage because micro-aggressions tear down confidence and make an unsafe learning environment for many students. I also think that this article was based around a middle to upper class homogeneous family where there is opportunity to fill time with video games and (expensive) extracurricular activities. Because of this, I feel that often times parents (especially from a low socioeconomic status) don't have the option to coddle their kids. However I think the author brings a point about how we think discomfort equates to unsafe. Being uncomfortable is important! That's what brings tenacity and grit. But as a parents it's super important to notice when the discomfort turns to being unsafe. A child might be uncomfortable staying home alone (which is fine!) but if they feel unsafe and that they are in danger when they are alone it's important to listen to them. That's when you should go in and talk about why they feel the way they do. I don't think being fragile is a bad thing, if anything it's lead to more empathy and connection between us.

  • StoneW||

    Daughter 2:
    I too have disagreements about the article. Especially when the author bemoans the lack of problem solving and independence in my generation. As both a youth and having experience working with children, I feel as if the programs and activities children are put into gives us more experiences to draw from. We value diversity and many programs provide children with a platform to interact with children who are different from them. In the past, the only playmates might be the neighbor kids who are all focused on sports or very specific activities. If a child is not interested in those activities or is not able to participate, then they are out of luck. By putting kids in after school programs they meet new people and are exposed to new ideas. Coupled with the addition of technology, my generation is able to talk with people from many backgrounds and make cross cultural connections. A side effect of this communication is that we are able to solve problems in new ways. We have a larger focus on using technology and working with others to solve problems. From a young age we are placed into programs that encourage us to become connected and work with others. It is not that we are not capable of being independent but it is that we often are searching for a sense of interconnectedness.

  • StoneW||

    My only addition to my daughters' comments is that each generation seems to see only the flaws in the next generation and not the strengths - which are legion.

  • All Seeing Eye||

    Millennials absolutely suck and are the worst of any generation - second only to the moronic hippies that produced them with their retarded social justice and anti-constitution agenda. By the time these control freak cry babies are in their late 40s America will be a nanny-state like you never dreamed - a totalitarian communist wasteland run by evil drag queens identifying as homosexual female chipmunks married to toaster ovens that have rights.

  • johnybennetcom||

    Oh yeah, I completely agree with your opinion, and just shocked by our fragile generation! But always exist both good and bad people, so everything not as bad as you think. For example my friends love to help another people, and when somebody needs help with essay, they always can write it instead person who dont have time for it. Here is their service Eduzaurus hope it will be helpful for somebody as well.

  • JMW||

    Would the readers here mind sharing their position on the following?
    I have a 2 year old boy. Since he was about 1 and half years old, his mom would leave scissors out where he could grab them and walk with them at any time. She feels my wanted to NOT allow this is me over-protecting. She is also OK with him walking/running with pens. I'm not. Thank you all.

  • Could not connect to remo||

    Great article.

    Thank you, liberals, for totally screwing up kids, adults and society.

  • Scratch Map||

    very useful information...!!!

  • ErSwnn||

    Kids need dirty, scrapes, an occasional stitching, a few bouts of poison ivy, bruises and maybe a good fight or two.

    It's how they learn what's a good idea and what's a bad idea.

    I was a single full time father to 3 for many years. I had my daughters literally jumping off a bridge, into a creek. No wimps in my family, face life and fear nothing.

    They now hike in remote and challenging places, skydive, kayak, hold good jobs, have good friends, single women...own their own homes (one bought her's at 21, the other at 26 and no, Daddy didn't put up any money). They accept that their lives are their responsibilities, no one owes them anything. None are willing to be taken advantage of, none will fail to fight back against an aggressor, physical or otherwise. Two carry guns, the other a knife....go ahead, mess with them, see how that turns out.

    They did their own laundry, helped around the house, learned their way around a car. They had emergency room visits and a couple of Daddy rescues from situations gone awry (those times when your friends decide to get stupid). It was their task to get up for school and get to the bus on time...otherwise, unless with was a long walk that day.

    No coddling here, I was preparing them for life, not fantasy. No one will ever need to pay for their welfare, food, housing or medical bills. They don't need a "safe space", they have fortitude instead.

  • DUI attorney Fresno||

    Watching them figure tips on their phones is hilarious. Main point is that they use machines more than their brain. They should be heeded, honored, and never criticized or blamed for anything.

  • E. Kline||

    I blame John Walsh, the father of Adam Walsh.