‘I’ve learned my lesson: don’t bother giving constructive feedback’

We asked you if you think we’re bubble-wrapping our children. This is what you told us

Michelle in the US: ‘Anyone who goes against helicopter parenting is seen as a negligent mother.’ Photograph: iStock

Michelle in the US: ‘Anyone who goes against helicopter parenting is seen as a negligent mother.’ Photograph: iStock

 

We asked readers to tell us if overprotective parenting is harming young people’s mental health and social skills. These are some of your responses

Parents intervene before a child has the opportunity to problem-solve
I am a teacher and agree that, yes, children are bubble-wrapped and overmonitored by parents and schools. While many children are more self-aware, and have a greater knowledge of their right to personal safety and care, they are very often denied the freedom to play and just be what they are: children. Parents in many cases intervene, disturb and flex their opinion before a child has the opportunity to problem-solve and develop any type of resilience to the challenges life presents. This can make children very introspective and lacking in confidence at times. – Eimer Kelly, Birr

This isn’t new. I’m 30, and we weren’t allowed to run in the yard when I was in primary school, either
This isn’t new. I’m 30, and we weren’t allowed to run in the yard when I was in primary school, either. We were told it was because of insurance costs and the concern about parents suing if we were injured. I remember thinking it was a terrible policy then, and I still do now. I don’t think there are many parents preventing their children from running when under their own care. Perhaps rules such as this are more of a reflection of the high cost of public-liability insurance than they are of parenting choices. – Dearbhla Quinn, Dublin

I’ve learned my lesson: don’t bother giving actual constructive feedback
I’m a secondary-school teacher in Dublin. Recently I wrote in a student’s report that she should “avoid long-winded sentences” in her answers. Her mother rang the school to complain, and I was made to change the sentence in the report. That student had got to fifth year with terrible habits that consistently dragged her final exam results down, but as soon as she got feedback that might actually help her she couldn’t handle it and involved her mother. I’ve learned my lesson: don’t bother giving actual constructive feedback, just tell them what they want to hear and let the helicopter parents think they’re great at parenting – less hassle that way. – Anonymous, Dublin

Thanks for the extra thing to worry about. I’ll add it to the list
Parents have had an inordinately tough year in working above and beyond to keep their children and families safe. We have had to “bubble wrap” ourselves, our kids, our older family members in order to follow guidelines and protect our communities. Seeing this type of critique yesterday really makes me think that there was so little thought put into the delivery of this message. Read the room, for goodness’ sake. We’ve had a year of doubt and fear about what we choose to let our children do, or not do; will they catch up socially, academically, in their sports, music, friendships? And now we’re overprotective – when the playgrounds were shut for public safety and we had to stay within 2km of our homes. Thanks for the extra thing to worry about. I’ll add it to the list. – Emma Marjoram, Dublin

Anyone who goes against helicopter parenting is seen as a negligent mother
Here in the US, if you don’t bubble wrap your children you run the risk of someone calling Child Protective Services on you. Helicopter parenting is the norm. Anyone who goes against that is seen as a negligent mother. The nanny state here has gotten out of control. I miss the good old days when I was young and kids were out and about, playing all day from sun-up to sundown, only coming home for meals and when the street lights came on. Now even allowing your child out of your sight has become questionable, let alone letting them roam free. We need a hard reset, for the sake of our children’s health and happiness, not to mention our own. – Michelle S, Maryland

We’ve had objections about things as simple as playing football
I’m not a parent, but I do a lot of work with kids and teens, and I wholeheartedly agree that some parents are bubble-wrapping their children and having an absolutely detrimental effect on their development. We focus on outdoor and adventurous activities, with an aim to foster independence and responsibility, and have recently received an uptick in parents attempting to steer us in a way that they feel would be more beneficial to their children, while ignoring that their interference is actually robbing their children of the aim of the programme. We’ve had objections about things as simple as playing football, in case children get hurt, and in some instances have had to deal with parents’ outright discrimination against children with special needs being included in our programme, all under the guise of concern for their child (who has never been concerned or inconvenienced by interacting with children with special needs while participating in the programme). It is infuriating to see behaviour like this that robs children of their independence, and robs them of experiencing diverse viewpoints and cultures, simply because a parent doesn’t feel comfortable. It isolates these children, prevents them from gaining enjoyment from situations that the parents are so desperate to sign them up for, and inhibits their growth into adults. – Anonymous, Dublin

I feel sorry for these children
I often hear parents telling their children, mantralike, Watch out! Don’t fall! Don’t break it! Don’t run too fast! This climbing frame is nothing for you: you’re too small! I feel sorry for these children. They can never play unobserved. – Marc Bert, Dublin

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