Helicopter Parents Make Kids Fat

fat kidIf you need yet another reason to stop hovering in that helicopter of yours and give your kids some space, here it is: You may be making them fat. A new study from the University of North Carolina says children of parents who are safety nuts don't get enough exercise. And we all know what a lack of exercise leads to -- lazy, obese children.

Researchers say all our worries about our kids getting hurt keep them from running around and playing outside with their friends. Instead they end up scared to climb in parks or stuck in the "safety" of their homes doing sedentary things, like playing video games or watching television.  

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I was ready to give myself a pass on this one (yes, I grade myself when I read these kinds of studies) because when it comes to physical activity, I'm pretty laid-back. I pretty much just expect that my children will get broken bones and stitches, and I figure the more practice they get climbing and jumping and scaling walls, the better they're going to be at it. So while I won't let them so much as sip any non-organic milk, I'm usually the one pushing them to push themselves, climb higher, and take a risk physically. Nope, no hovering here.

Yeah, right. I think if we're honest, we all hover in certain areas, and I can see how in other ways I do limit their physical activity because of my attempts to keep them safe. It's not like my son is able to just head out the front door and play until the streetlights come on, like when I was as a kid. He's 8, and unless I have the back door open to our fenced yard and can see him at all times, I'm not comfortable with him roaming our neighborhood (even though it is gated and guarded 24/7). I have to be ready to go out when he wants to go outside, ride bikes with him, or play -- or at least supervise -- a game of ball, which isn't always the case. I have dinner to make, bills to pay, and things to do in which case I'm constantly saying, "Go upstairs and play" instead of, "Go outside, and I don't want to see you until dinner," like my mom said to me.

Is that hovering or just times that have changed and one too many abduction stories? I don't know, but it seems the researchers are right in some regards. Of course, growing up, many of us also didn't play baseball, participate in swim team, and take tennis lessons simultaneously, so I'm hoping today's parents' propensity to overschedule our children in sports and the like somehow counters the hovering at least a little bit when it comes to weight.

In which areas of parenting do you have the most trouble letting go?


Image via EmeraldSam/Flickr

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