A mom of five offers this take - which particularly resonates with me.
I'm one of five and could roam freely all day during the summer as a child, from 3rd grade on. This mom is 100% right.
I grew up with two brothers in the 1970s, I'm in the middle. We left in the morning, we ate lunch at whatever location we were playing and returned home for dinner. We rode bikes, hiked, climbed, and yes did some mischief.
My niece posts constantly about how dangerous it is to touch her infant, show’s pictures of babies with horrible skin rashes and says “ see this could happen”. It’s so bad she has a sign on her car seat and stroller saying stay back. She’s almost a year old and I still haven’t touched her. I come from a large family lots of babies they all get held and loved, we do not kiss their faces. We wash our hands, and would not even be there if we were sick. I wonder how life will be for her as she gets older. This isn’t fear it’s terror.
Love this! I’m a mom of five and this totally resonates. (Mine are older now -- 19-29) my solution was sports. Kept the kids outside, active, learning team work as well as individual skills. I’ve had parents criticize me because my younger refused to wear pants (he wore shorts no matter the temperature) and I got lectured by a stranger for leaving my sleeping baby in the car WITH my 10 year old watching him. I’m Gen X and miss the freedom I had growing up.
I am childless and have watched with amusement and sometimes horror at how rabid new parents can be about their parenting choices. However, the tendency for people to comment and criticize how someone else is doing something extends beyond parenting. I am in the short term rentals business and am amazed at how ugly some “hosts” can be towards other hosts and how they run their business. Society seems to have increasing levels of righteousness and inflated views of their own skills and decisions. My way is THE way. And yes Covid made it all so much worse. Forgo your prom, your wedding, being with your parent on their deathbed to save “just one life”. But not the lives of children we abort. Who are we and what are we really afraid of?
Amen. If I had to grow up in today's world I have no doubt that at some point I would have contemplated suicide and I would never have achieved the kinds of things in my life that I have. Kids today are socially, emotionally, and intellectually crippled. I noted the other day to someone that by the time my father was in his mid 20s he had been to war, shot, returned home with a permanent disability, married, had his first child, gone to college on the GI bill, graduated early, and started a career with a prestigious accounting firm in NYC. The equivalent 25 year old today is still in their parent's basement.
This is the crux of Jonathan Haidt's/Greg Lukianoff's thesis in The Coddling of the American Mind. During COVID, one of the things that amazed me was how blinded so many parents were when it came to the risks they take every day without a moment's thought while perpetuating hysteria of COVID's risks to them and their children. I tended to not spend time with parents like that, but I do know that the attempted shaming was a real thing. ("You're actually sending them into school?")
In May-June 2020, it was decided that the day camp where I work (I'm a teacher) and where my daughter is a camper would open. She, at 8 years old, was able to recognize how there was more to life than avoiding any risks at all costs. The camp ended up running at around half their normal capacity, and on one 8-year old's first day, he arrived crying hysterically (this was after we had completed our first week). "I'm scared!" he told me. "Of what?" I asked him (I honestly didn't realize what could have scared him so much, as he was a returning camper). "Coronavirus!" he told me. That was one of my first indications of the just how sick the fear-mongering of our children had gotten.
One of five but we lived in a different world. Our parents never attended any sports activities ranging from Little League to CYO swim meets. Our job was to get there and get home for dinner. Take the bus or walk.
“ where did you go?” out
“ What did you do?” nothing
We ate rice krispies or frosted Flakes for breakfast and baloney sandwiches on white bread for lunch. We walked home from school for lunch. There was no school cafeteria.
We all grew up, no one was arrested, all graduated from college, and three of five earned postgraduate degrees.
We all had children, but three kids each was all we produced.
We did not worry about kidnappers in white windowless vans and car seats did not exist.
The present generation ( 20-35) grew up in a different world. All industrialized countries have low birth rates.
Sure, women work today and that is why the birth rate is lower. Once children were the fruit of love and the greatest thing we could produce, now a Gucci bag is what is desired.
The world has changed and the old world is gone.
All true. We have imprisoned our children and ourselves in the process.
I commuted by train and underground to school each day. From 10 to 16. An hour and half each way. It was the 70’s. And I was by myself. Parents never worried. Imagine that today.
Great commentary. People ultimately don’t have children when they don’t have hope and optimism for the future. This is why the causes are so varied. But surely, some causes are more significant than others.
So, just a few compatible observations. She’s very right to flag the car seat issue; it’s entirely overlooked and it was lazy-minded boomers thinking of fecund Mexicans or foreigners when they reasoned their way into that little tyranny (American Christians long ago gave into the birth control gospel). It’s very hard to have a large family now as that entails a Church van (I know, as I have a converted one). It’s also expensive, prohibitively so for working and middle class families that otherwise can afford the extra children.
I’ve noted this before, but truly, central banking, and the inflation it causes, is a massive contributor to anti-natal views. It made them ever more expensive—and when combined with mandates everywhere like car seats—it’s not surprising Westerners reasoned their way into small families (or none at all).
The cultural zeitgeist of progressivism is a longer story but we all know it’s a major contributor. People scream for abortion today, and so on. It ultimately leads to depressive states of aimlessness. But it was these economic incentives that were arguably a necessary cause of the public’s acceptance of anti-natal views. Religion has also continued to dilute over time due to this.
A book could be written on Big Pharma’s contribution to Americans’ declining mental, physical and spiritual health, and fitness to have children.
Following the same pattern that incentives matter, safetyism did not arise in a vacuum. Between immigration of higher crime populations and people with no American traditions, the war on poverty and its effect in black and poor communities, and the governmental bias against firearms in gathering places, we just aren’t as safe and don’t feel as safe. In the 80’s it was mostly unheard of to see the knockout game, or rampant theft, zero border enforcement with fake refugees everywhere, or a homeless stabbing, occurring or encroaching in a middle class neighborhood. And criminals were generally punished, even though other abuses existed.
So I’m actually sympathetic to some of safetyism. While typing this very message in a Church courtyard in a Texas city, a homeless guy came up to the gate and became irate when he wasn’t immediately given food, and started pulling down his pants and spitting. You can’t even make this crap up!
We have such a mess today as a result of the progressive school of pseudo-liberalism that the solution, truly, is national divorce. Let people of goodwill gather in a few states, and let the Left have its SSRI addicted utopia.
Yup. What she wrote. I see this with my grandchildren. Buckling and unbuckling all three at each stop. It will curtail the number of stops you make, or will encourage you to have another responsible person with you so that you can run in and out of a store and not have to take all of them with you. I even go to pediatrician appointments with my daughter to help her juggle.
O. M. G.
My kids are now in their mid-30s and seem to be reasonably well adjusted and responsible. There are times when I don't know how we managed to accomplish this b/c there were interventions by OTHER PARENTS and school personnel who tried to derail it.
I have stories about my inadequate parenting as evidenced by sending my 8-year-old daughter to the corner store for milk; or my 6-year-old son was allowed to walk to his friend's house around the corner, and that I did not wait at the school bus stop that was clearly visible from our front door.
The other parents seemed to want to reinforce their obsessive behavior by criticizing me.
And it all started with seat belt laws, the 55 mph speed limit, and (in the USA) the 21 drinking age and all its ancillary laws. Throw in the Satanic Panic and the culture wars, and the rest is history. It has been death by a thousand papercuts in the name of "Safety First" and "if it saves ONE life, it's worth it. Instead, we need to adopt the far more rational "Safety Third", and recognize that liberty and pursuit of happiness are also every bit as worth protecting along with life.
I agree with this mom. We have ceded power to the government and given it the right to "co-parent".
An interesting paradox: "Big Brother" hinders growth milestones in favor of their perception of safety, but during Covid, encouraged giving an emergency use vaccine for children who were never likely to suffer from Covid...the excuse was that it would keep adults safe....WOW, I would never risk my grandkids health for mine no matter how great the risk to me or how small the risk to them.. My job is to keep them safe not the other way around......and having kids take this risk seems silly when those same kids can't walk to the park.
Schools contribute to this issue. In California when my son was in 2nd grade he was ready to ride his bike to school. He was aware to only cross on a green light and even if green to check for cars. He got there safely but he was told (and I was called) that he wasn't old enough to ride his bike to school. Also, they didn't allow any sports at recess that could result in a bloody nose or even a fall. In my opinion this was part of growing up and there are a lot of things worse then a few stiches.