This is a fairly abundant phenomenon in Australian suburbia and one that is regrettably on the rise. Mollycoddling, meaning to be overprotective and indulgent toward to your children, is depriving our youngsters of a childhood, prohibiting them from learning life’s lessons first hand, and filling our world with a new breed of egocentric ‘special cases’.
Last week the UK National Trust released an updated list of ’50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’, a list they compiled from the top responses from 1700 children who were asked what their favourite outdoor activities were. Now, if your kid hasn’t done at least half of these things by that age, you’re quite possibly dabbling in a bit of the ol’ mollycoddle, or alternatively… get that fat shit off your iPad!
Another tell-tale sign you’re a serial mollycoddler is if you take to cleaning anything and everything your child may come into contact with. I remember having a family friend pop over with her 2 year old for a visit and before putting her little precious down to play on the floor with my young sister, pulled out a wad of baby wipes and proceeded to clean it. Guess who gets sick at the drop of a hat now? That kid.
This brings me to vaccination. Where did this ridiculous anti-vaccine movement come from anyway?! (You can find out here if you really would like to know). To be more precise I am referring to the seeming resurgence of anti-vaccination activists in the last two decades or so. Medical and scientific evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the extremely rare incidence of adverse reactions to it. If you don’t believe me, check out this report aired last month on ABC’s Lateline. This meme also hits the nail on the head:
Exposure to germs, cuts, scrapes, bruises is only building your child up for their eventual life in the real world, (although generally it’s a bit less physical). And at this juncture I’d like to insert another very apt meme that really drives home my main message.
Shit happens. And, by shit, I mean accidents. By trying to completely risk manage your child’s upbringing, you’re no doubt doing more harm than good, particularly to the kid’s emotional and mental psyche; without doubt there is sage advice in the popular old adage ‘what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’. It’s the same for kids: they’ll live and learn.
Now perhaps it’s a little sadistic of me but some of my fondest and most vivid childhood memories are those requiring a quick trip to the hospital. Boy did I have fun as a child though (it was mostly my sister needing the medical attention)! What’s more, these experiences have only made me stronger, smarter and more resilient.
My advice: ensure your child has at least 40 of the 50 things in the abovementioned list ticked off. And, if your kid looks about set to break an arm, touch the seat of a public toilet, or require a few stitches: just keep calm and crack a cold one!