Overparenting is so over

Overparenting has sparked a backlash, claims Time, which sees a “revolution under way, one aimed at rolling back the almost comical overprotectiveness and overinvestment of moms and dads.”

The insurgency goes by many names — slow parenting, simplicity parenting, free-range parenting — but the message is the same: Less is more; hovering is dangerous; failure is fruitful. You really want your children to succeed? Learn when to leave them alone. When you lighten up, they’ll fly higher. We’re often the ones who hold them down.

One third of parents have cut their kids’ extracurricular activities in response to the recession, a CBS poll finds. Parents polled by Time said the recession had improved their relationships with their children. They’ve got less money for extras but more time for essentials.

Hyperparenting went ballistic in the in ’90s, Time says.

From peace and prosperity, there arose fear and anxiety; crime went down, yet parents stopped letting kids out of their sight; the percentage of kids walking or biking to school dropped from 41% in 1969 to 13% in 2001. Death by injury has dropped more than 50% since 1980, yet parents lobbied to take the jungle gyms out of playgrounds, and strollers suddenly needed the warning label “Remove Child Before Folding.” Among 6-to-8-year-olds, free playtime dropped 25% from 1981 to 1997, and homework more than doubled. Bookstores offered Brain Foods for Kids: Over 100 Recipes to Boost Your Child’s Intelligence. The state of Georgia sent every newborn home with the CD Build Your Baby’s Brain Through the Power of Music, after researchers claimed to have discovered that listening to Mozart could temporarily help raise IQ scores by as many as 9 points. By the time the frenzy had reached its peak, colleges were installing “Hi, Mom!” webcams in common areas, and employers like Ernst & Young were creating “parent packs” for recruits to give Mom and Dad, since they were involved in negotiating salary and benefits.

Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids, deserves a lot of credit. Time also calls Carl Honoré’s Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting the “gospel of the slow parenting movement.”

Via Core Knowledge Blog.

About Joanne


  1. Mayhaps this is one of the unintended good consequences of the Obama regime’s mishandling of the economy.

  2. But not parenting is alive and well!

  3. Yes, BadaBing, you are so right! I remember how the recession started the day Obama got inaugurated. Or maybe it was the day he was elected? I can’t quite remember. Either way, there is no possible way that it started under the Bush administration because of complex policies that both major political parties took part in developing over the last decade or so. Right, BadaBing? It has to be something as simplistic as your invaluable and intellectual analysis.

  4. superdestroyer says:

    I wonder if the Asian parents have stopped overparenting. Is this just middle class white families raising the white flag to Asian parents. Have middle class white families given up the idea that their children can ever be physicians, engineers, musicians, or Ivy Leaguers.

    Maybe everyone should read the article in last months New York Magazine about junior league baseball that the amount of money spent by middle class white parents on sports.

  5. How about the problem of over-advising parents with annoying polls, studies, opinions, and biases?

  6. Someone should tell the parents in my neck of the woods! But seriously, how much of this is real, and how much is the latest fad in magazine articles? And, how much is due to the need to strike all unnecessary expenditures from a family’s budget?

  7. Fascinating Time Magazine story. For everything there is a season and it looks like, a backlash after that. In education policy and practices, things usually go back to the middle. Patience, patience, patience!

  8. Superdestroyer,

    It seems to me that the vigilant parenting of Asian-American families I’ve seen is different than that of many white helicopter parents. The former seem more bent on academic achievement; the latter on protecting/spoiling their kid, and shielding him from unpleasantness (mean teachers’ tough grading, competition with those aggressive Asian kids, not getting to play in the soccer game, etc.) at all costs.

  9. One part of this discussion is missing, and is an issue that I have experienced 1st hand recently. Over-Parenting or high expectations for your children can have a horrible, and deadly negative effect in some cases. My children are grown, 26, 24, 22. Two of them, (24, 22) recently had friends commit suicide. Both because they could not figure out what to do with their lives. Their parents had expected more out of them. I watched my son stress last year as he was trying to get a job before he graduated from college. I was very worried about him, but tried to assure him something would come up. And it did and he has a job he loves. But it does not happen for all kids and they need to know that it is OK.

  10. What this is not saying (and teachers know) is that parents are not trying to be parents anymore because it’s too hard! So they are taking the easy road…indifference. How do I know this is true? Go to a restaurant…parents are there physically with their kids, but they are on their cell phone and the kids are using their DS. Parents are always looking to get away from their annoying kids (who they’ve created to be annoying!).


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