Cotton Wool Kids!

I watched a programme I taped on Channel four last week, called “Cotton Wool Kids”, I don’t know if any of you saw it? It basically was about parents who wrap their children up in cotton wool, they don’t allow them any freedom at all, all worried that their children would fall down, crack open their little skulls, be sexually abused or murdered! The word the kids and parents all had in common was “Maddy”, it was terrifying, these children sitting as their parents tell them things that could happen to them, “No darling, you can’t walk to school, you might be abducted and they might rape you….” Seriously, a woman telling her daughter to look at all the people they passed by could be murderers….telling her not to even trust her own family! “Just trust mummy”!

I am horrified!

I am the mother of three, you all know that, and you also know that my eldest son turned ten in March and now he can walk to the shop, and school on his own, he is also allowed to go down to his Friend who lives down the road, today he went into the little park down the road with his friend, that kind of was scary for me, but he is ten, and his friends go with him. Now as I watch these parents, all from different races and backgrounds but all the same, all terrified, terrified of life. I don’t think I am a bad mother, I think I am a very good and responsible mother, but I can’t understand this level of worry.

I have seen young people die young, I know what life is like, how cruel and unfair it can be. But I live my life with the mantra that life is for living, and my children are constantly changing, obviously my job is take care of them, but that changes over time doesn’t it? A baby of 8 weeks needs more care than an eight year old? And just managing the needs of the child aren’t enough, does he have enough to eat? Check! Does he have a warm place to stay? Check! Is he safe from harm? Check! But you know you could answer yes to all of those questions and be keeping your child prisoner in a concrete cell! You would be providing all that he needed but in a highly fucked up manner, and I have to say some of the parents on the TV show weren’t too far off that.

Computer games and virtual chat rooms have replaced real play time and interactions, acting out what might have happened to “Maddy” with dolls and action men has replaced mummies and daddies and fear has replaced youthful curiosity. Now I understand how hard it is to let go, I am only human, and I am very attached to my kids, but I understand that from the moment they are born, they leave your body you have to start to let go, each step they take away from you that is confident and assured is a sign that you are doing your job well, we all know the saying “If you love something set it free”, well to me child rearing is like that, I feel like if I have a job, it’s to make my kids independent and responsible enough to deal with the real world!

One of the parents on the programme was considering getting an implant in their daughter, so she could keep track of her, she actually said to her daughter, “so if what happened to Maddy ever happened to you…….” Oh dear God! Then there was the father who wouldn’t let his 13 year old son out of the house, he kept him in the house, giving him bribes of the latest gadget or computer game console! His son was dangerously overweight but the dad was more worried about him being stabbed in school than developing diabetes! I just don’t get it?

Am I mad? Am I the one who needs a kick up the arse, will I regret giving my kids the same freedom I had, will they be drug addicts or criminals? It’s so difficult isn’t it? Now I have to say I don’t push them, I let them call the shots, they always set the pace, if my daughter wants to walk in to her classroom in Montessori alone that’s grand but if she doesn’t, that’s OK too! Having said that I have limits, there are very strict rules, I am not over lax! I am not gonna let him just disappear for hours on end, it’s all very organised with strict time scales and punishment if it isn’t adhered to!


3 thoughts on “Cotton Wool Kids!

  1. I’m way more lax than you. But then I spend lots of time worrying.

    And fantasising about horrible things.

    But I’d do that anyway. And presumably if I was hte sort of parent who spends their days terrorising thier kids about rapists and murderers, I’d be worse.

    It’s very sad.

    I hope they’re saving for the therapy bills.

    Overly terrified parents who pass it on to their children piss me right off. Shriek! Gasp! Oh My god!
    Oh, fuck up.

  2. I have to admit that the whole Maddie thing shook me up a bit. It touches a nerve and the press know that and they captalised on it and in many ways created the parents you saw on that program. Then they made a program about them.

    However I adhere to one principle when it come to my kids and that is to try and ensure that they have as balanced and happy a childhood as possible. Reacting in such a paranoid manner will pass on the paranoia and make them into distrusting adults who may miss out on many great experiences as a result.

    What was it on QI last night? Oh yeah, 90% of all rabbits born fall foul of predators before they reach adulthood. Otherwise we’d be swimming in rabbits.

  3. At least there are some of us parents who keep our fears supressed to a certain degree! I worry too, we all do, but I worry more cos I know what my friends and I got up to, or could have gotten up to!

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