In this weeks podcast Ed and I were discussing the over parenting of children. In a nutshell what I was saying was that parents who need to over parent or over protect their children are limiting the child’s ability to grow and develop and discover the world and their place in it.
After the horrors of the Second World War in the 1940s England must have seemed a very safe place. Because it was safe, children were free to play out and discover the world. At that time there were no mobile phones, no internet and no TV. TV did not begin until 1953. The only media available to a child was either a comic or ‘listen with mother’ on the radio on the Home Service Channel that later became Radio 4.
So, to get their entertainment kids went out to play and would often roam around coming home for meals, though they could often be away from the house all day. No one thought of this as being unsafe. All the children walked to school, older children/siblings looked after younger ones.
It is with the development of transport, very few families had cars and people used public transport, cycles or foot, that children began to be ferried around. As television developed followed by the internet and mobile phones children had less reason to move away from the house and play became home based.
But something more sinister happened. As media and news became more immediate disasters, rapes and murders from around the word all became instant news and the world, all of a sudden, became an unsafe place. Parents became fearful for their children and the need to over parent and control began.
Where as in the 1950s young kids were street wise and kids from the late 70s onwards became less self reliant and more constrained and restricted by their fearful parents. The same parents came to positions of power in government and enacted laws that were said to protect children but actually limited the ability to develop. In the 1960’s a child could leave home at the age of fifteen and go to work.
However, the bottom line is that parents act out their own fears on their children. When a child is born it does not have fear it learns it from the immediate family through both observation and experience. In this way the limitation visited on a child came from their parents.
Writing this, I just looked up from the keyboard to see a Dettol advert, which, as you know, kills 99% of all known germs. A good thing you think? Well how can a child build a robust and effective immune system if it is not subject to the germs and bacteria that will enable them to develop the necessary antibodies?
Over control, from government to parents, develops a less creative, effective, healthy and dynamic population.
If you want your kids to find self-fulfillment let them live a little for themselves. Yes they may break their bones or cut themselves, but we can’t wrap the world in cotton wool. To become self fulfilled we need to go out and live.
Take care and be happy