Terrified in spite of reality

It seems many do not realize it but it is a luxury to worry. Sometimes the worry gets out of hand. Hey, parents, leave those kids alone! is a review of the book Free Range Kids : Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry by Lenore Skenazy, “America’s Worst Mom” (Jossey-Bass, 256 pages, $24.95)

Her central thesis is this: life is good, people are mostly good, and kids are both hardy and more capable than we think. In fact, she explains, we’re living in what is “factually, statistically, and luckily for us, one of the safest periods for children in the history of the world.” The problem is that everywhere we look, we’re told otherwise. Which is why, perversely, in the safest of times, we’ve become the most neurotic parenting generation in history. We’re afraid of everything, with no filters, no sense of scale, and in no particular order: food allergies, strangers, poisonous plants, bumped heads, open toilets, rogue toys, Halloween candy, abduction, germs. We’re afraid we might not be perfect. We’re afraid our kids might fail. Skenazy gets it. Then she breaks it down. Her goal is twofold: take away the fear, then let the kids outside again, without the helicoptering parents hovering in the background.

It’s not an easy task.

There is so little to worry about that parents have to invent new things to fill their needs for worrying. It seems that this sort of creativity is a group effort that feeds on itself. Getting back to reality will indeed not be an easy task.

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