I've not once feared for my own safety. Children as young as ~5 or 6 walk on my street alone or in small groups regularly, and they, likewise, have no reason to fear. There's even a culture of teaching your kid at a very young age to do things on their own. A regular TV show documents it (link with English sub: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4lme5a).
I spent 3 and a half years in San Francisco, and the difference is stark. People riding the bus grab their phones hard with one hand while using it with the other, for fear of it being stolen (as happened to a friend of mine). You would never leave your phone on a table while going to the bathroom unless you were with someone to watch it. If you lost your wallet, you'd be lucky if you got your driver's license back in the mail.
Are American parents overbearing as a group? Likely. But it's easy to criticize from afar if you've never lived in a low-trust society.
Just because your cell phone would be stolen doesn't mean your child would be.
Most of the cities and places listed in the article is still full of pickpockets and scams. But that's a different story than fearing for the lives or even just the safety of children...
You are part of the society you live in, and how trusty, or not trusty, said society is, isn't some fixed value.
Do you think this whole "War on Terror/Trust, nobody,/Report everything suspicious" episode, that's still going on, might have something to do with US American parents being so paranoid?
Because what I've witnessed in Germany, is that a whole lot of parents are just irrationally paranoid in response to press reports pushing certain agendas.
These people are utterly convinced that everything is worse now, that their kids are in constant danger everywhere. Even when you cite those people local crime statistics and how crime has steadily declined, these people will insist on "everything having gotten worse, statistics are faked".
At this point, most kids carry around their very personal tracking device, yet parents are still scared of letting them do anything on their own. Has the world really become such a much more dangerous place? And if that's actually true, why would you bring children into this, supposedly, much worse place?
Pickpocketing is a major issue in Paris and in other major European cities, yet children are trusted to do activities alone and independently.
The issue of child independence is is unrelated to actual crime and culturally based.
Recently I saw a report on Chikans (gropers on trains in Japan). The report suggested that almost every young woman experienced this (in particular high school girls).
Couldn’t believe it. I essentially thought it was bullshit.
So I asked the Japanese women who I know well enough if this was the case.
They confirmed that it happens to everyone once or twice (though uncommon).
It’s almost never reported to the police.
But...while that was a scary and tragic case, the reason it made so much news is that it was, and remains, very rare. The notion that some kidnapper or pedophile is going to make off with your child, targeted at random on the street, has always been an almost absurdly unlikely one. And yet many places in the US would see a parent arrested for negligence for allowing their child to walk a block or two on their own.
So, yes, something gives parents the idea they need to be overprotective. It's a sensationalist media and a culture of fear spread by people with a poor understanding of risk.
You have that almost everywhere; sometimes depending, unfortunately, on color of skin or social standing. But I am just surprised because of the size of the US; in the Netherlands, which is miniscule, ‘people in the south’ think Amsterdam and Rotterdam are Sodom and Gomorrah which is mostly not true. I thought it was because it is such a small country that people would have such ideas about cities which are basically less than 2 hours drive from them, but then you see this in massive countries too. The tabloid press seems to do a lot of harm really.
Both are obviously used in a teasing-not-quite-nice way to signal that maybe these parents should take a deep breath and assume that they raised their kids well, and that scraping your knee or getting frightened is something that happens in life sooner or later, and the parents' job is to guide and comfort their kids when they do happen.
There was a very high profile case (in DK at least) from 1997 about a mother who left her child outside the restaurant where she was eating (with line-of-sight to the stroller): https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/26/anette-soren...
I might not want to do the same in New York, but in Denmark no one would bat an eye if this happened.
I guess the differences between America and Denmark are one manifestation of these differences
"Curling parent" is new to me, but as a nation, we aren't really into Curling. You have to have a good image of the thing in your mind for it to really catch on as a phrase.
That said, I think it's a very good image for how those parents treat their children.
Canada is much more into Curling than we are, and I wonder if they use that term.
The police reaction was clearly over the top... but yea can’t say it reasonable to leave a 14 month old outside a restaurant in a busy city.
Consequently, its one of the few things you can exert a modicum of control over as well ;-)
Let them burn their fingers, let them fall, let them do stupid shit and just be there to advise, help and guide them in a loving matter after the fact so they can learn and grow to become a confident, decent adult.
> The one thing that has got much worse is traffic
In terms of absolute numbers traffic deaths today are at the same level as the 1950s, but as the chart also shows the population has more than doubled. Statistics in any developed western country are likely to look the same.
Traffic deaths per million people are down to the levels of the 1920s, where there were much fewer cars, and the 1920s are a period where it would have been typical to kick your kids out at sunrise and expect them to be back before sundown.
We live in the safest period in human history, parents are just being paranoid.
parents are just being paranoid
Or perhaps they are behaving rationally given the amount of traffic on the roads, those figures might have been worse otherwise.
You can build tunnels and overpasses for pedestrians. Button-operated lights for walkways. Strict laws requiring vehicles stop for pedestrians. Planned speed bumps. You can route traffic away from paths kids would likely walk. Do things so that it is more reasonable that kids will be safe in neighborhoods, even if they are playing in the road (at elementary ages, of course, when they are old enough to be aware). You can also have more public green spaces within a child's walking distance where they can play outside with others and make sure school grounds are open for play when school is not in session instead of calling the police for trespassing.
That said my wife, left unchecked, is a helicopter parent... it’s inherited by her mother who is the most anxious person I’ve ever met, my sister in law is also as anxious. So I always have to try and help my wife relax and have less anxiety with our daughter.
One thing is when our daughter falls over... my wife and her side of the family’s reaction is to run over and repeat in Norwegian “you poor thing” or something to it’s like.
Where as my side of the family.. we almost celebrate falling over, we treat it like a positive. “Ohh come on get up” said in a very positive tone. Then we clap our hands and say “yay” when my daughter gets up.
The difference, my daughter almost never cries when she falls over. If she really hurts herself of course we will go to her, I’m not a monster... but other kids could fall over and scream for an hour over the smallest of falls. Why? Because their parents run to them and try to wrap them in cotton wool.
My point with all this, is parenting styles from what I’ve witnessed isn’t really based on nationality.. but more the cultural norms, and how you were brought up.
I have read that the great generation, had a very very hands off parental approach. The boomers had a more hands on approach, and then gen X and gen Y seem for the more part to have a much more hands on approach than their parents.
I’m gen Y, my wife gen X.
I think there’s a lot more factors involved here than just nationality.
I don't know what the efficacy of this is, but it doesn't hurt to try.
Sadly I can't say this would be really national thing because I see way too many people with approach I don't agree with. But you can usually see difference between more laid back fathers and stressed mothers and also overprotective grandparents (which ain't really bad considering their physical abilities, but sadly despite being overprotective they just don't realize some real dangers like my mother thinking when it's 33C in shadow and i prefer to stay in AC place with my child instead of baking outside).
To the guy below saying men on HN don't take care of their children, my wife went to work and I was home with our first, now with second (and also the first) we are both at home and I am helping around taking care of older, cooking etc.
From what I have learned so far by reading various parents' comments etc, all kids are very different and making general conclusions like this one seems to be pointless / incorrect.
Your first kid may be calm and chill and your second one can be agitated (or vice versa) while your parenting style stays the same. Why? Because these are two different humans and not something else.
Of course two children could be totally different. But you cannot deny that the influence you have as a parent.
I gave the scenario of my mother-in-law, and her two daughters. My mother-in-law is 1 of 3 sisters, a very anxious person. Her two sisters polar opposites. Their mother a very calm, very hands off parent. Right there is a great example of your point. 3 children, 2 similar, one the same.
Now where it gets interesting, is my mother-in-law had 2 daughters... both as anxious as their mother. Where my mother-in-laws two sisters, whom are very laid back and hands off as parents. Their children are also laid back and relaxed, much more so than my wife and her sister.
This is anecdotal for sure, but so is cherry picking comments from online and drawing a conclusion.
I'm not saying that my comments are 100% accurate, not even close.. I'm saying in my observations this is the driving factor in the parenting choices I've decided to make for my daughter, and no one else's.
for sure, I agree with you.
It seems to me that it is better to make conclusions looking at grown adults and families in total - like you did with your in-laws.
I just wanted to say there might be a tendency to look at screaming (or in this case, it would be anxious) kids and generalize and criticize their parents for bad parenting skills / inability to deal with kids / whatever; meanwhile, it's not their fault. Just good to remember that.
(Edits: minor formatting)
I’d like to believe that more often than not a child is similar to the parent, If that’s nurture or nature, or culture I don’t know. Fun to wonder though.
I devote a large amount of time to my daughter. The other parents who are in tech are quite similar.
Perhaps I live in a bubble here in Norway.
Though I’d be interested in more stats on this.
I’ve known enough HN’ers and tech fathers in real life who talk a lot but don’t look after their kids to have become cynical myself.
What actually happens is that the HOST PARENTS supervise the group. So if your kids are invited to a friend's birthday party then yeah, you don't stay. I assume that it's the same in the US and pretty much every other country.
We also don't leave our four-year-old kids in the car alone. Well, some people do, which is why the local newspapers have been full of stories about the parents getting arrested for it and social services getting involved.
Drink coffee and try to socialise with other (equally agonised) parents because you somehow have to manage to spend two hours together until the party is over?
That sounds about the most horrible way to spend your time, to the point where I'd eventually consider not taking my kid to these parties in the first place.
Chat with other parents—but then my kids are young enough that the parties we go to are still mostly for kids of my friends.
If you want to stay (and are wanted) that speaks to a strong sense of community which is nice
Parents in the USA (and increasingly in Canada) WILL stay and actively interfere in the party:
“That game is too rough for Jenny.”
“My child doesn’t drink soda, I’m just going to run to your fridge for Perrier.”
“Don’t you have enough cake for all the adults who stayed uninvited?”
Worse, as a host, you often need to run interference between the bulldozer parents and the 5 year olds who were dropped off.
No, in the US all parents are expected to stay. Not just the host parents.
Things like this does not mean that the other isn't true. Just because one works doesn't mean that the rest of her time isn't expected to revolve around her children.
This made me laugh.
So that's the biggest danger around the school (which I doubt) but that's ignoring all the other dangers
b) I know there is at least some obstacle between her and the traffic.
c) if she hurts herself, I would know, and could get to her in 3 minutes
So I am fine with her being inside of a 100x100 m playground mostly unsupervised, as long as I know it is fenced and I have at least some idea where she is.
So my question would be this. Today, I wouldn't let my 4yo kid cross the road without adult supervision. In 15 years she will probably be in college somewhere, having to pay her own rent. How do you handle the progression?
I.e. I remember that from the school when I was 11 years old was a Big Deal™ .. but by the time I was 14, taking bikes with my friend and disappearing for half a day was normal.
I remember being taught to cross roads both at school and by my dad aged 4ish. IIRC they would teach you first, then they would start to ask me 'how do we going to cross then?' and make me lead the way. I had to stop, look both ways to check for traffic, then walk not run. And I had to talk out each step to my dad. After a few months he trusted me to not talk it out but if I missed a step, say not looking right, he'd point it out and make me do it again. Then a while later he let me cross roads myself but would watch. For example let me go to the park but watch from the front door. By 7/8 I was trusted to go to the supermarket and shop alone via some occasionally busy roads - the only really busy road had a lollipop lady to help you cross.
So yeah, make sure they know what they are doing. Make them prove it to you. Then give them a bit more freedom step by step.
In poorer parts of the country kids spend lots of time, from a young age, unsupervised. Because their parents and care givers don’t have a choice.
I've always lived in a walkable places (ie in the UK) and growing up was told to walk everywhere. From a young age (maybe 8?) I could walk faster than my mum so she let me power off on my own to school. Naturally I became very independent.
But if there are no sidewalks, if your town is car centric and drivers have no regard for pedestrians? How in those places do you create opportunities for independence?
I wish the legal age would be lowered to 12 or 14. At least then kids could be given more financial and contractual independence. Children can’t participate in movie pass, take Uber...
I wouldn’t attend most meetings / talks where they refused to let me in without my phone. I don’t know how we let kids suffer through the humiliation.
The kids will be alright.
I get what the gist of the article is about however isn't this a real risk?
Maybe in the other countries they leave the windows down but in America windows are up for security fears?
http://noheatstroke.org/ (hopefully not a sensationalist website, just first thing that came up in google that seems to have numbers)
edit: For the down voters I'm talking about the job interview, not 5min to go get a coffee. It just seemed like a bad example to prove the articles point
Plus it was just a question...
My frustration with tjis article is that it is tge epitome of anecdotal fluff. It is an article about the commebts on an article. Why is this tripe on hacker news?
In the morning, you can see parents and grandparents outside the school fences watching the inside like it was some zoo! It's painful to watch. I went to that school and I know I would HATE it if my parents did it, and I live right next to it!
It's explainable if it's the kids first day of school, but you see this year round. I think this is happening more frequently, I don't remember seeing it as much some years ago.
I believe the cause is the same as in America: the news on TV focuses only on the crime and scandal, increasing the perception of danger, when it's actually decreasing.
Not sure why they included this little nugget in the article. Letting your child roam free is just a little bit different than locking them in a car and possibly forgetting about them. Parents absolutely need to make arrangements such that this situation can be avoided, and I can’t fault anyone who calls the police if they see a child left unattended in a car. They don’t know how long they’ve been in there or will be in there.
Much of the article is also discussing countries where the predominant weather is such that even if you left an infant in a car for 3 hours to sleep without AC they'd be fine. Sweden isn't Los Angeles.
High Trust Society
I grew up around dirtbag kids, scummy weirdos, freaks and fuck ups, during an era and in a zone where people are still uncertain about what the effects from lead poisoning were, immediately prior to my childhood.
I have older siblings with... stories.
I look around now, and I have to admit, the world does not seem to be strewn with the human wreckage that existed prior to the crack epidemic that emerged in the 1980's, but I do remember what people were like back then.
I really think leaded gasoline, coupled with alcoholism, drunk driving and many other drugs, ripped the banality of the 1950's to shreds, and scared the hell out of a lot of people, who still remember what that looked like.
The world was not "safe" or anything that looked like it. People were scary.
I'm not going to go into details, because HN winces to think of such things, but really, I could paint vivid pictures of the fears people have.
I'll say this much, illicit gambling was rampant and normal in dens of vice, rendered an impenetrable haze of cigarette smoke that hung four feet off the ceiling, right down to the tops of the door jams. That gambling atmosphere was pervasive. Everyone just felt like the abandon of wagering it all, any old time was normal. Such was the case with so many freaks on the loose.
Things aren't like that now. But it's not as far away as anyone would love to claim.
Helicopter parents seem uptight, and relative to the world as it has been for but a pair of decades or less, they are. But a lot can happen in a single generation.
We'll see how things go.