Some friends of mine have observed that many parents are not only, in their opinion, overprotective, they are exceedingly judgmental of parents who are not highly protective. Here are the examples they cited; in the first I agree entirely, while in the second I’m not so sure.
The first example took place at a playground, where the mother of a two year old girl was sitting on a bench reading as the child climbed on a play structure, while all the other mums were actively helping their children with each step. She says they were glaring at her like she was some sort of horrible parent. Since modern play structures are designed to make it extremely difficult to injure yourself even if you want to, I don’t see any problem in her conduct.
The second example was when the mother of a six year old girl sent her down the street to a corner store. There were no streets to cross, it was less than a block away, and it was 10 AM on a Saturday morning in the summer, so in the unlikely event that a would-be abductor showed up, there would be far too many witnesses to risk such a move. However, the mum’s mother-in-law tore into her like she was some kind of horrible monster. The thing is, fifty years ago nobody would have thought twice about this. Of course, although crime statistics show that per capita crime rates are lower now than in the past, the 24-hour news cycle means that coverage of crime is far more prevalent, so that this behavior looks more dangerous now to someone who watches a lot of TV news.
Of course, the second mum’s behaviour could still be inappropriate; it could be that it was inappropriate 50 years ago, but that parents had the excuse then that we didn’t know about predators and the like, and even with the lower crime rate today it could still be an unacceptable risk, and parents no longer have the excuse of ignorance anymore. Or, it could be inappropriate because even though the risk is minimal, it will alter others’ perceptions of the mum’s parenting ability and cause them to treat her child differently (e.g. teachers who were aware of this might assume that the mum doesn’t care about her child and thus pay less attention to the child’s needs while the squeakier wheels get the grease).
So, what do y’all think?