May 18, 2010  •  In Parenting, Personal

The Bubble Wrap Generation

The War on Children’s Playgrounds

J thinks that I will be an overly overprotective parent.

I firmly disagree.

I believe that there is an age up to which a child should be protected and nurtured because they just don’t know better. However, we must also educate our children during this period to be aware of dangers, to learn to fend for themselves, and to also take the occasional injury as a learning experience.

And after this age? I will encourage my children to live life and learn from their mistakes. This is not to say that I will let them do whatever they want; rather, I will not be opposed to their taking risks just as long as they are not unreasonable. After all, taking risks starting at a young age is important so that children can realize their own limitations.

I will not be an over-coddling parent.

Living in the “Bubble Wrap Generation,” it saddens me to know that my kids will not be able to have the same childhood that J and I were allowed. Where we were allowed to play outside with friends — without adult supervision — until dark. Where it was not unusual to return home with cuts and scrapes and blood-stained clothes. Where playground injuries were learning experiences, not the cause for lawsuits.


It’s sad to think that my kids might never experience a playground
like this. Doesn’t it look fun?

Now, every playdate is carefully orchestrated by parents and the kids watched over with hawk-like eyes. Playgrounds are boring affairs with no nooks and crannies, no high swings or slides, or even sand. (When was the last time you saw a metal merry-go-round or a seesaw at a public playground?) No kids play outside anymore, and when asked why, parents will often respond, “No one else lets their kids play outside, so my kids will be bored anyway.”

It is no surprise that childhood obesity rates are an all-time high.

We live in an age where our nation is ruled by the fear of lawsuits. After all, a broken arm can fetch up to $100,000 (after paying the attorney fees) if the injury occurred on a playground. If that happened in my generation, the child would have gotten a tongue-lashing from the parents for being careless, then taken to the hospital with no involvement from the legal system.

There comes a point when the idea of “being safe” becomes an obsession to the point where it becomes impossible to have any kind of enjoyment in life.

I will not cover my kids in bubble wrap.

8 Responses to “The Bubble Wrap Generation”

  1. Couldn’t agree more. It’s a sad and scary thing.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. It’s a sad and scary thing.

  3. You are so right, things are very different for kids now.

    And I didn’t think about it before, but no, I don’t see nearly as many playgrounds and kids playing outside as back during our childhood. That playground looks SO cool, I actually played on one that looked very similar to that… when I was 22 (haha) and we had a BLAST running around like kids. Oh, the good ol’ days!

  4. Donna:

    We actually have a playground like that right by our house and we take Neddy there all the time. I had a swingset like that in my backyard growing up so I’m encouraging Neddy to play, fall down, skin his knee, etc.

    I think that you, J, and Baby need to come visit Chicago for a REAL playdate :) We live 5 blocks from the beach so there’s your sand!

  5. Geek in Heels:

    @Donna — that’s awesome! I really envy you and your neighbors that you have access to one of these playgrounds. I specifically chose this picture because this is the type of playground we had in my elementary school. It has since been replaced with one of those boring plastic ones, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a playground made of wood and metal (at least in the NJ/NY area).

    J and I have only been to Chicago once, but we loved it and we want to return. If we end up visiting again in the near future, I’ll definitely let you know!

  6. LNRB:

    I firmly agree that children need to make their own mistakes and learn and grow from them. I also completely agree that kids can’t be wusses and need to fall, get scraped up and learn their physical limitations themselves. I do disagree, however, with letting children play unsupervised in public places. Maybe it’s completely unwarranted but I just won’t be comfortable letting MB Jr. play on the swings while I’m at home, lest someone snatches him up. I realize it could happen right under my nose, but I’d rather be there trying to ward off any bad guys, rather than sitting at home wondering.

  7. Geek in Heels:

    @LNRB — I’m not sure if I can let my kids play outside without supervision either in this day and age (everything was so much more innocent when we were kids). However, I’ll see how I feel when the time comes, depending on their maturity and the general safety of where we live.

  8. […] Bubblewrap Generation lives. Insecure parents who want to “protect” their kids from every evil in the Big Bad World raise them. Plus, they also demand everyone else help protect their kid by banishing normal […]

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