Overprotective Parents Don't Understand Probability

The way most helicopter parents behave, you'd think the daily chance of dying is equal to a coin flip.

A few days ago, I wrote about societal fear by way of a lovely article in The Washington Post comparing America's increasingly insular behavior to the symptoms of agoraphobia. Riding on a similar wave, Deborah Vlock has a nice piece over at Psychology Today about how the 24/7 news cycle fuels the irrational fears of overprotective parents:

"Our virtual bad-news bubbles scare us. We appear to be a nation—a world, really—perpetually looking over its shoulder.

I could get on that plane, and maybe I will. But what are my chances of being hijacked, underwear-bombed, or disappeared right off the face of the earth? 50/50?"

That's a funny line there, the hypothetical helicopter parent assuming any flight on which their child is a passenger has an automatic 50% destruction rate. It's so ridiculous, you'd almost expect to see it in a Nationwide Insurance Super Bowl commercial. Yet despite the hyperbole, Vlock isn't really that far from portraying the perception too many parents have about how fraught with existential risk their kids' lives are. A girl in New England gets kidnapped. The media makes it a national story. A mom or dad in Oregon assumes that kidnappings are a sort of national norm and clutches at their kid's leash a little tighter. Wash, rinse, repeat:

"The problem with letting this relentless, nightmare-inducing, revenue-boosting bad news take over our parenting and our lives, is that we end up teaching our kids they’re supposed to be scared, too."

Vlock draws upon her experience raising a child prone to anxiety and self-harm in writing her piece, the theme of which is "overparenting does not work." If anything, you want to convey strength and bravery to your children, not gullible spinelessness. A major component of this is understanding that your child isn't playing Russian Roulette every time they step outside or encounter a stranger or even engage in physical activity. Most of the stories you see in the media about kids being harmed by anomalous incidents are merely that—reports of anomalies. There's really no defense against randomness; it's part of life. Attempting to resist the cruelty of chance by way of helicopter parenting only opens up a Pandora's Box of other problems for your kid, most notably the inability to build the skills necessary to deal with adversity.  

In short: if you're an overprotective parent, stop worrying so much that your kid is in danger and maybe you'll stop putting them in it.

Read more at Psychology Today.

Photo credit: CREATISTA / Shutterstock

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less