Dr. Janet Taylor appeared on the "Today" show this morning to discuss this very topic.
The gist of the story was how sensational news stories, like the recent, tragic Jaycee Dugard case, may contribute to an increase in 'paranoid parenting.' Some of you may know what I mean. No babysitter is safe enough, your in-laws or even your own parents don't have enough experience for your child, and you don't trust how your fellow carpoolers drive. The end result is that you pick up and drop off your child from school and will not let them walk to a playdate that is two houses down from yours unaccompanied (and they are 15).
What gives ... when did parents become so protective? And are you one of them? Do you find yourself denying your child the opportunity to participate in an activity or playdate because of your own fears that may be irrational?
Instead of letting your child ride with others, friends, and their parents, you drive them to the same party "just in case." When other kids are walking in a group for Halloween, going door to door trick-or-treating, you drive yours in a car, "just in case."
I understand. To be a parent in many ways requires a badge of paranoia and sense of hyperalertness.
When it comes to your child's safety, however, stranger abductions are very rare. There are over sixty million children under the age of 15 in the United States. Federal statistics indicate that there were 115 stranger abductions last year and, by comparison, 250,000 were injured in car accidents. So our kids are relatively safe from strangers. Our bigger worries should be exposure to second-hand smoke, not buckling up in a car, and/or not wearing a bike helmet.
How we parent is largely based on how we were raised and the extent of our current fears. It is critical not to pass on our own unwarranted anxieties to our children.
Parenting is best done from a base of love, not fear. A healthy sense of fear can be beneficial, but be mindful of the difference between a real versus a perceived threat. You can also use recent media examples or concerns that your children may bring up to talk about "what if" scenarios, and how to stay safe.
|Dr. Janet Taylor is an Adult Psychiatrist in Private Practice in Chelsea (NYC). A consumer health strategist and certified life coach, her company, Mind Projects, Inc., specializes in corporate stress management and multicultural health strategies. Dr. Taylor has a column, "Ask Dr. Janet" in Family Circle magazine and is a frequent expert on national television. She lives with her husband and four daughters in Chappaqua, New York.|