We’ve become a Nanny State and Baby Boomers are the reason.
Blame it on us — the helicopter parents — for creating an environment that at times has become too overprotective of kids.
The term Nanny State dates back to a conservative member of the English Parliament in 1965 to describe interference and protectionism by government.
Use of the term has blossomed to include everything from economic policies to regulatory practices.
In the context of kids, it has to do with society being so concerned about children’s well-being that we won’t allow them to do anything that might bring them harm … or even bring them close to being harmed, physically or emotionally.
The most recently example came from the state of New York, which sought to regulate organized recreational activities that it said carried “significant risk of injury.”
Those activities included Whiffle Ball, dodgeball, Red Rover, Freeze Tag, and kickball.
The state’s Health Department created the list, which includes archery, scuba and horseback riding, in response to a state law passed in 2009 to better regulate indoor camp programs.
But publicity about the list created a furor, and the Health Department has since backed off, saying it is compiling a revised list that it says will be “more sensible.”
That we even came to this can be traced to Baby Boomer parents who in the 1980s and 90s had children who they tried to keep safe from all kinds of physical and emotional harm and trauma.
When we Baby Boomers were kids we’d head off on a summer’s day on our bikes or on foot and we’d play ball in vacant lots, or go explore into the woods, or just generally screw around without a parent even knowing where we were.
We fell out of trees and broke our arms. We skidded off our bikes and got scraped. We played full contact Red Rover and survived.
But we put our guard up with our own kids and created playgroups, and supervised play, with scheduled activities filling up their days and our calendars. It’s like we put them in a protective bubble.
Trampolines now need safety netting. We don’’t have winners and losers in youth soccer or baseball — games end in a tie. If your kid skateboards he wears elbow pads, knee pads and a helmet. A helmet is a required fashion accessory for riding a bike and skiing/snowboarding.
Yes, our need to protect our kids did some good. Yes, we saved countless of kids from injury. Yes, we protected them from the danger of child predators.
Yes, we did good hovering over our children the way we did. But did we do more harm than good in the process?
Are the children of Baby Boomers willing to take the risks that are sometimes necessary to take in a world that gets more competitive all the time? Are they willing to put themselves out there at the risk of getting scraped up?
Many of us Baby Boomers are now Empty Nesters and we’re taking stock of the job we did as parents.
Am I happy with the adults my children have grown into? You bet. I couldn’t be more proud.
Could I have done things differently? You bet.
I think now that allowing a few more risks, letting them take a few more chances, letting them get bruised or bloody in a game now deemed “risky” would not have been terrible.
Better to be safe than sorry?