Bubble wrap parenting

Don’t want your kids to fail? Want to keep them safe? Want to know where your kids are every minute? Do you keep up with your kid’s grades and schoolwork to make sure it gets done?

You may be suffering from Bubble wrap parenting. Also referred to as helicopter parenting, this ailment means you shield your kids from harm. All harm including any failure whatsoever.

I hear parents say they tell me they “have” to monitor their child’s work because, guess what, they won’t get into a good college. What’s more, they start to spaz about this when kids are 6. No wonder our kids struggle so much from the transition from home to university.

What happened to kids being kids?

What happened to young kids going out to play in the cul de sac or riding a bike all over creation. What happened to hide and seek? I loved hide-and-seek on a summer night. When it was time to come home my mom would ring a cowbell and we’d come home panting begging to go back out after dinner.

And what has bubble wrap parenting caused? For one thing, a generation that struggles to solve problems because it’s all been done for them. This has created an environment where isolation, addiction, mental illness, and suicide have been able to thrive.

What if they lose their homework, forget their lunch or their coat?  Let them be cold or hungry or get a bad homework grade. Because guess what? That’s where learning happens.

Hovering, helicoptering, coddling, protecting, babying, over-supervising is not good for kids. Your kids need room to grow which includes making mistakes because that’s what builds character and resilience.

Charles didn’t get the neighborhood of the seventies

But he damn sure tried and kept at it long enough that he learned to lure kids out of their houses, away from Nintendo and TV to be creative, have fun, be silly and crazy.

It was nothing for me to look out the window and see the rubber severed arm sticking up out of the ground, my mink coat draped on the bushes under the dining room window, fake blood on the driveway, superheroes in my back yard, kids singing “I kissed a squirrel,” teenagers dressed up in blue unitards with plastic swords.

I loved that about Charles. I loved his zany, chaotic way of bringing people together. I caught all kinds of criticism for it. But thank God I let Charles be Charles. Because I think what happened to him was the result of a perfect storm.

I think he would have thrived in the seventies neighborhood. He would have had the community he desperately craved. But good God I caught hell because we couldn’t “control” Charles when in fact, people just didn’t like that he pushed boundaries. That was who he was and trying to fight that would have been fruitless.

Parenting these days is hard. Really hard. Being a kid is hard, too.

Next time your child has a problem, ask them how they would handle it. Ask them what they think a solution might be and let them follow through with it.

They may come up with an awful, terrible, really poorly thought out solution. But if the risk is small, let them go with it and learn from it. Those are the best stories 10 years later.


Published by

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

8 thoughts on “Bubble wrap parenting”

  1. Your Charles and my Maty would have been great friends . . . and maybe you and I could have supported, consoled each other, and laughed at those that told us we needed to “control” our sons. Some how I bought into the bubble wrap theory and lost my perspective and my son suffered. Anne, if we could only get a re-do . . .

    1. It’s not just our human mistakes that lended a hand to our losses. It was a myriad of things: environment, family history, health history. If bubble wrap parenting was all we did, I do think our children would be alive today. But they had something else going on in their brains that we couldn’t fix. But funny you got the same feedback about control. It was so frustrating to be judged all the time because I had a square peg in a round world.

  2. This is such a great and wise post, Anne Moss. I grieve for the kids today, the loss of true childhood. My mom tells stories of me, all bundled up, going out in snow storms in upstate NY, looking for neighbor kids to play with. I was like Charles, loved to be outside. In this crazy world it is hard to not over-parent/protect your kids. But there is a balance and I’m afraid we’ve swung so far to one side that, as you said, the kids are not developing the coping skills they need. And the anxiety… so many struggling with anxiety. Breaks my heart. Thanks for your post…

  3. I could watch his funny videos all day. Such a character. You must miss him terribly…
    God knows what he’s singing up there in the clouds!!!!???
    PS – Amen on the bubble wrap parenting.

  4. When I was a kid in the 70s we played outside or on a rainy or snowy day in Ohio, in the basement coming up with variety shows. At the time we used cassette tapes to record mock interviews. Can’t imagine the damage we would have done with the easy technology of today! 😊
    Every kid needs a friend like Charles! Even if the parent finds them a distraction. I agree with you that teaching problem solving at a young age is one of the best things a parent can do to prepare children for growing up in the world. Little decisions today, bigger decisions tomorrow. I also taught my children how to access their intuition and feel ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in their bodies, which is also something I was never taught.
    Thanks for your post Anne, I always read them but don’t always comment. Your transparency is such an important and valuable contribution.

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