Does overly protective parenting reduce adventurism and independence in children?

by Ryan Streeter on March 23, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

This Atlantic essay by Hanna Rosin is worth reading in its entirety. She chronicles the rise in overly protective parenting and employs some data to question whether it’s making our children better.

Children are born with the instinct to take risks in play, because historically, learning to negotiate risk has been crucial to survival; in another era, they would have had to learn to run from some danger, defend themselves from others, be independent. Even today, growing up is a process of managing fears and learning to arrive at sound decisions. By engaging in risky play, children are effectively subjecting themselves to a form of exposure therapy, in which they force themselves to do the thing they’re afraid of in order to overcome their fear. But if they never go through that process, the fear can turn into a phobia…We might accept a few more phobias in our children in exchange for fewer injuries. But the final irony is that our close attention to safety has not in fact made a tremendous difference in the number of accidents children have.

She cites quite a few statistics and studies to make her point. This piece should prove to be a conversation-starter, much like Rosin’s book on men a couple years ago.