The Most Frightened Generation

A passage from one of A.A Milne's, Winnie the Pooh books provides a sentiment that we might all take especially to heart these days. Christopher Robin tells Pooh, "promise me you'll always remember you're braver than you believe and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think."

It seems ever clearer many American parents are gripped by fear, fear about what might happen to their children. Not the ordinary fears that all parents' experience, but rather the irrational fears that are, in my opinion, getting out of hand. The media provides a constant drum beat of fear laden messages about car seats, cribs, bicycles, food, drinks, clothes, strangers and even bed bugs! These cautions are not issued with the nonchalance that most of these fearful messages deserve, but rather with the overblown hyperbole of an imminent apocalypse. Somehow, our children have become more vulnerable than children of any previous generation.

It is, of course, a great irony that fear is so abundant among parents because this is the safest time for American children in our history. Children today are more closely supervised than any previous generation. Children entertain schedules that are so tight little time is left to just "hang out" or to go out in the neighborhood to engage in creative or spontaneous play with other kids without adults hovering over them.

It is up for debate as to how children being raised in such fearful circumstances will be affected in the long run. As the national epidemic of childhood obesity advances, one of the solutions is for kids to go outside and move around.

Being out in the natural world is a strong instinct in all humans including children. The forces of fear that now overwhelm these instincts must be very powerful. Children won't go to the woods to explore the wonder of plant and animal life and habitat. They won't ride their bikes to a friend's house, a relative's house, to the store or to school. These events won't happen, but not because parents are afraid, now, most children have been sufficiently frightened so as to drive them indoors.

Remember, all kids count.

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