Dad Lets His Son Fall Down & Helicopter Moms Go Wild

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playgroundDo you let your kids take physical risks -- or are you an overprotective parent who hate to see your kids get hurt? One dad is talking about how he lets his son fall and fail at the playground. Aaron Gouviea lets his son Will clamber all over the plastic climbing structure at their neighborhood playground. Will loves the challenge, even though sometimes he slips and falls off. And Aaron thinks it's important to allow Will to make those mistakes and learn from them. Besides, he's falling from only four feet, and the mulch below makes for a soft landing.

But it's all fun and games until an overprotective mom catches Aaron refusing to give Will an assist when Will finds himself in a tricky spot and starts whimpering. Aaron was still watching closely, encouraging Will to keep trying. But that wasn't good enough for "Playground Mom." She just had to get involved.

She actually went up to Will and said, "You need help, sweetie? I'll give you a hand." She just couldn't stand by and watch -- she had to get involved. Aaron tells her Will is fine and doesn't need help. Playground Mom says of course he does, he's about to fall! Then Aaron lays on this shocker: "Maybe, maybe not. But either way he'll be fine. I can parent my own kid." And sure enough, Will said "no thank you" to Playground Mom's help and figured it out on his own. Ha!

But of course, it could have turned out differently. Will could have missed and fallen to the ground. 

Obviously Aaron was irritated by this meddling mom. But have you ever been in her place? Have you ever watched a hands-off parent let their kids take physical risks you weren't comfortable with -- or even seen kids fall and injure themselves? What did you say or do?

It's hard for me to remember if I've ever been in that position. I'm always the most hands-off parent at the playground. But I know I've made other parents uncomfortable. I think they feel like it would be irresponsible of them to stand by and not intervene. Some parents really take that it-takes-a-village ethic to heart and feel like they're helping. I think they mean well, but it's still irritating.

What do you say or do when you see a parent let their kids fall or fail?


Image via Carl Wycoff/Flickr

fun & games, learning, play, safety


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abra819 abra819

good job dad!

Todd Vrancic

Barring immediate danger to life and/or limb, she should have had a talk with the dad, since he was right there.  I doubt he refused to comfort the child if/when he fell.  The woman needed to hear "I can parent my own kid."

nonmember avatar NoWay

My son likes to climb trees. He is 12, but still my kid. I cringe when he does it, but I remember that as a kid, I was almost always in a tree. I try to let my kids be kids. Sometimes kids get hurt.

Serab... Serabelle

It's sad how parents don't let their kid fail these days, it doesn't teach them anything to hand them everything. Kids who's parents don't let them fail are going to have a hard time as adults. We're already seeing it. Kid fall, they get bumps and bruises, maybe even break or sprain something. It's not a big deal, they'll live. And now they know what not to do, which helps them learn how to do it right. I'm sure if the kid were in real danger of really hurting himself or someone else the dad would have stepped in and helped. I fell off the monkey bars all the time, then I learned how not to, got stronger, I was fine.

nonmember avatar IslandMomOf4

Good for him! It is one thing to allow your child a little space to take risks and learn. It is another to have your nose in a cell phone and not watching your child! Two weeks ago, I grabbed an 18 month old before she could jump off the dock at a local boat launch. Very swift current in the area and mom set the child down, without a life vest on and walked off texting on her phone. I felt I had no choice but to step in. In my 36 years of living, that's only the second time I've ever 'had' to parent a strangers child.

Irela... Ireland69

we baby our kids too much!

adrie... adrien_80

We guy and I were watching my kid play one day when a boy only about 2 y/o started to climb on something very dangerous and high. We looked around for his family - none. We decided not to intervene even though he was clearly too little.  Sure enough, he fell. We heard his head whack the ground, we saw his head bounce off the ground!  He screamed like nobody's business and still no one came.   Turns out his family was attending a picnic about 800 yards away and they didnt even realize he was gone! I then felt terrible for not doing anything.  I worried about that boy for days wondering if he had a concussion.

adrie... adrien_80

Meant "my" guy and I.

Linda Morin

Good for him! I'm the hands off parent at the playground and sometimes I do feel judged and uncomfortable for letting my children learn their boundaries. Sure, there are exceptions if I sense there's danger, but I'm always watching.

Tiffany Thomas

The kids need independence. Let them figure it out. And on another thought, if you see someone else's kid struggling on the swings, leave it be. Just walk away. Maybe it is time for my kids to learn how to swing their damn selves

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