4.16.2008

vacations in the culture of fear

Much has been written about the culture of fear that pervades so many people, especially parents, in these times.

There's a lot of money to be made by exploiting fear, from home-alarm systems to war profiteering. (Get 'em over there before they get us over here!) There are websites, catalogues and stores full of products designed with fearful parents in mind. For many, the padded playground has come to symbolize parental over-protectiveness and obsession with safety. We've all read about it; I won't try to recreate the whole argument here.

I see and hear a lot of stories about many parents' attempt to create a risk-free world for their children - as if such a thing is possible, and as if it is preferred. Without risk, there can be no growth, no testing of boundaries, no meaningful accomplishment. One needn't be a daredevil to know that a fearful child will have less self-confidence and have a more difficult time achieving independence. Falling on an ordinary, non-padded, playground, scraping your knee, then continuing to play is something of a metaphor for growing up.

I overheard something recently that perfectly illustrated the culture of parental fear. (Don't know if you've noticed, but a large percentage of my essay-type posts originate from overheard conversations. I'm always listening.)

This particular overheard conversation was lengthy; I was sort of trapped beside it, unseen, for an extended period of time. A woman was telling someone about her recent family vacation. They went on a Disney cruise. She went on and on about how great it was - an enormous variety of activities for kids of all ages and for adults. But what she really loved about the Disney cruise, as opposed to any other vacation they've taken, is how safe it was.

Every time you walked into a dining room or buffet, staff was handing out hand sanitizers. People were sanitizing the elevator buttons and door knobs all day long.

After leaving the ship for island entertainment (also owned by Disney), they had to pass through metal detectors and show identification to re-board. None of the other cruise lines did that!

All the entertainment was produced by Disney, of course, so there was no danger the children would be exposed to anything inappropriate.

The kids had to wear helmets and shin guards for all non-water activities, and life jackets for all water activities.

She talked about this a lot. "And it just made us feel so safe, so protected. It was the best part of the trip."

This astonished me.

I know that there have been illness outbreaks on cruise ships, so I understand that sanitation may be an issue. I'll give her that. But this was the best part of the trip?

Now, I'm not a cruise person in the first place. I can think of few things I'd enjoy less than be trapped anywhere with 2,000 other people and a bunch of "activities". To an independent traveler like me, the whole concept of this kind of holiday is hideous.

I also reject the notion that the only vacation you can take with kids are theme parks or cruises. I grew up going to national parks and historical sites. We hiked and rode horses and talked to park rangers, and we saw our country.

It's not a money issue. This woman's family had first spent a week in Florida (ugh), then did this four-day Disney cruise. She told her friend that the cruise was more expensive than the entire week in Florida including airfare, a giant splurge. I could plan three vacations for this family with what they spent on this one cruise. I kept thinking of all the cool things they could have seen and done for the same cost.

So sure, my reaction to this conversation is tempered by my general disgust at that type of holiday. But the safety issue just amazed me. How fearful she must be to make that such a high priority!

Are you thinking, "if she was a parent, she'd understand"? Well, I'm not a parent (not of humans, anyway), but my parents were. And I thank [something] that they didn't raise me to believe I needed hand sanitation and metal detection every time I turned around.

We knew about safety. We wore seat belts, we washed our hands after the bathroom, we had a fire safety plan. But we were also taught, by example, that there are worlds to explore, and given the confidence to do it.

My sister and brother are parents, and they didn't raise their kids in a fearful environment, either. My nieces and nephews travel all over the world on their own. They move into unchartered territory in their own lives, both figuratively and literally.

I also helped raise a child - I was a nanny, like a second mom, to a boy for five years. I saw risk, and I saw safety, and I saw a person who needed to test the world, to explore.

In addition, I have spoken with dozens of families of children with physical disabilities. Independence and potential over-protectiveness are huge issues in this world. The children who thrive come from families that recognize that life is risk.

But for every parent who is afraid of the big, bad world their children are entering, Disney, and dozens of other companies, are waiting to cash in.

I don't have any huge conclusion to draw from this. I just find it sad, and wrong.

38 comments:

Amy said...

I couldn't agree with you more about cruises and any other pre-programmed group mode of travel. When we went to Israel, people kept telling us we were crazy to go on our own, not with a group tour, because it was dangerous and hard to know where to go that was safe. We went on our own, saw what we wanted to see, ate when and where we wanted, etc. The idea of being on a bus and being told what to see and when to see it just was not our idea of fun.

But I have to admit that we have been too overprotective as parents. I am not proud of this at all, but I also know that it was just something in our nature that made us worry about our kids getting hurt. Especially when it came time to teach them to drive, we failed miserably. I guess all I am saying is that sometimes parents mean well, but are too neurotic themselves to let go as much as they should. I am not defending it, but I do understand it.

redsock said...

I also know that it was just something in our nature that made us worry about our kids getting hurt.

But I'm assuming most good parents are worried about their kids getting hurt. So there has to be more going on than merely wanting them to be safe.

When L first told me about this conversation, I thought of the stories I had seen about children being sexually abused on cruise ships and at Disney-related places. I went off to look online for links, but came back pretty empty-handed. Which surprised me, because I know they are out there.

I did find many links to "Disney: The Mouse Betrayed; Greed, Corruption, and Children at Risk" by Peter and Rochelle Schweizer, though I see this was published by Regency, an odiously conservative publshing house.

L-girl said...

But I'm assuming most good parents are worried about their kids getting hurt. So there has to be more going on than merely wanting them to be safe.

Yes. And I was raised by a HUGE worrier, my father was an obsessive worrier, definitely worried about his kids getting hurt. Yet we were given freedom and not coddled. I agree that there must be another dynamic at work here.

When L first told me about this conversation, I thought of the stories I had seen about children being sexually abused on cruise ships and at Disney-related places. I went off to look online for links, but came back pretty empty-handed. Which surprised me, because I know they are out there.

You can be 100% certain that this woman never heard about those, or they would never have taken this cruise. One thing she loved about it was that the kids were busy all day, but she and her husband were free to relax on their own. Instant child care.

L-girl said...

I would like my sister-in-law to weigh in, I think I will email her the post. She is a mom to three *very* independent minded young adults, the above-mentioned world travelers. And also seems like someone meticulous about safety. I remember she didn't want one of her sons (a physically small guy) to play football because of the risk. She is a PT (physio for Canadians).

M@ said...

I'm very much with you here. We've done the do-nothing vacation in the past (e.g. Cuba, the Dominican) but we've never done any of the activities they offer.

A couple of summers ago my parents went on a tour of Europe, where they were on a bus for something like three weeks -- yes, they saw a lot of places, but I don't think I could take being shepherded around like that. There's an element of discovery that is, to me, crucial in these things.

I'm also kind of wondering how I can profit off all this. People seem so willing to buy into things like sanitation. I don't understand it, but I'd like to cash in on it somehow. I'll have to think about it.

Btw, Allan, it's actually Regnery Publishing, not Regency. And yes, Regnery is pretty much the bottom of the toxic waste barrel that is Wingnut Welfare publishing, so I wonder what that book is doing in their catalogue.

Amy said...

I am not suggesting that we made our kids wear leashes or helmets when they went outside. Nor did we walk around with handiwipes cleaning them up all the time. But we did say a lot of "Be careful" and "Slow down," and we did want to know where they were and who they were with. We had curfews and rules about calling home if you were late, etc. I don't know that any of this is so bad. Is it a bad thing that my kids never ended up in the ER? One spent a semester abroad and was away every summer from the time she was nine; the other, though more a home body, went to college four and half hours from home. Most of our worrying was probably harder on us than it was on them, though they fought it and certainly resented it at times. The driving stuff was a failure, but otherwise, I think we did ok, and we did the best we could.

OK, way too much about me... I know there was a larger point here about the fearful society we live in. I do agree with that.

L-girl said...

We've done the do-nothing vacation in the past (e.g. Cuba, the Dominican) but we've never done any of the activities they offer.

I learned I can handle a do-nothing vacation (cabin upstate NY, cottage somewhere in Ontario) for a limited time. But I'm not happy if that's the only vacation I get. The travel force is too strong. And the element of discovery - and total independence - is crucial.

I am not suggesting that we made our kids wear leashes or helmets when they went outside. Nor did we walk around with handiwipes cleaning them up all the time.

Then you were not the kind of parent I'm referring to.

we did want to know where they were and who they were with. We had curfews and rules about calling home if you were late, etc.

Well, that's normal parenting! ALl kids need structure and rules, and all parents should know who their kids are with (uh, to the extent their kids will tell them), learn how to call home, etc.

Is it a bad thing that my kids never ended up in the ER?

You can do all the right things and your kids can still end up in ER. You can't actually control that.

I think that's a crucial difference. Some parents seem to believe they can actually keep all the dangers of the world away from their children. That's not possible.

M@ said...

But I'm not happy if that's the only vacation I get.

Yes! Exactly.

The travel force is too strong. And the element of discovery - and total independence - is crucial.

I think we get too little adventure in modern life, and travel is something that can satisfy the urge. Maybe Disney Cruise people don't have that urge. Or maybe they just don't know what they're missing.

L-girl said...

I have been hungry for travel all my life. It's a real preoccupation of mine.

My family jokes that we get the travel bug from my grandmother, a world traveler (always in groups, but she went *everywhere*), who passed it to my mother, and my brother and I both have it bad.

There certainly do seem to be people who love to travel, and people who don't. People who don't travel like cruises, or laying on beaches. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just not me.

But this safety aspect seems like something else entirely to me. I know lots of people who take cruise or beach vacations, and are content with that, but they don't talk about how safe they feel, or the sanitation and security aspects of the resort they went to.

Amy said...

Yes, there is no way to prevent harm to your children, and we all live with that fear; we also live with the illusion that we can at least reduce those risks. I am not so crazy as to think that my worrying kept my kids safe. Just saying that there is also a point where being too carefree is just reckless. Example: both my kids ski and ski fast and much better than I do. We encouraged them to ski and made sure they learned how to ski well so that they could do it safely. It's a very hard line to draw between protection and freedom.

L-girl said...

From what you're saying, it doesn't sound like the line is so fine. It sounds like there's normal parenting, which you did, and over-protectiveness, which you didn't. If you were over-protective, you let your children ski at all.

You might be projecting the worry that you feel inside onto how you actually behaved. It sounds like you worried, but weren't really over-protective at all. From what you're saying here, anyway.

Amy said...

My kids would probably disagree, but I appreciate the perspective nonetheless!

As for travel, I wish we could do more than we do. We love our time skiing and on the Cape, neither of which is a sedentary vacation but nor is it travel, but it does limit our budget for other travel. Last real "travel" vacations (meaning going to a new place we had never seen before) were Montreal in 2005, California in 2003, and Italy in 2001 (each one being a trip we did without travel agents, tour guides, or bus groups, of course). Seems we are overdue, but it will have to wait until 2009 at the earliest. :(

David Toronto said...

@redsock
--------
Disney: The Mouse Betrayed; Greed, Corruption, and Children at Risk"

is not published by Regency but by

Regnery.

Regnery is a conservative publisher and is known for its controversial title. Do a Google search and look at the titles and authors. Many of these are frequently on Fox news--which explains much

L-girl said...

David, see M@'s comment above.

It doesn't really explain much, but the name has already been corrected here. Thanks.

David Toronto said...

Believe me, Regnery has more than one title in its catalogue. Sorry I didn't pluralise the word "title" in the above comment.

Their website http://www.regnery.com/index.html

redsock said...

Thanks for the correction. I'm pretty sure I pasted the correct info in, but deleted part of it and tried to remember the publisher without checking back. Ah well.

Perhaps the book was an anti-Hollywood/show biz book. As in, look at all the molesters that are working in liberal entertainment.

... though wasn't Walt a Nazi?

James said...

I'm on a personal campaign to eliminate sanitizers and antibacterials from unnecessary places, myself, and Good Germs, Bad Germs by Jessica Snyder Sachs has only been reinforcing my dislike for them. Paranoia about germs and dirt is, in part, responsible for the huge increase in allergenic illnesses, from hay-fever to asthma, in Westerners.

A few months ago I saw a fascinating map of an area where four generations of a single family had grown up. Superimposed on the maps were the locations of the current generation's home, the mother's original home, her father's original home, and her grandfather's original home -- along with the ranges these people were allowed to roam while children. It's depressing at how quickly those ranges shrank to essentially nothing:

Great-grandfather -- six miles to go fishing.
Grandfather -- one mile to wander the woods
Mother -- Half a mile to the simming pool
Son -- 300 yards to the end of the street.

I don't remember what my range was at eight years old, but I do remember cycling the length and width of London, Ontario, in my early teens.

L-girl said...

Perhaps the book was an anti-Hollywood/show biz book. As in, look at all the molesters that are working in liberal entertainment.

Disney was the focus of wingnut boycotts because they treated their gay employees fairly, benefits for domestic partners and such. Don't know if that figures in.

... though wasn't Walt a Nazi?

Shhh...

Paranoia about germs and dirt is, in part, responsible for the huge increase in allergenic illnesses, from hay-fever to asthma, in Westerners.

That's interesting. I always put germphobia in the same category as these other kinds of fear. Obviously people who have compromised immune systems have serious concerns, but my healthy co-workers who Lysol their phones every day and alcohol-swab their desks... Geez. How do people like that live in the world? It must be very difficult.

Re range of travels, Allan and I often note that we were free to wander when we were young. There's such a strong perception that the world is more dangerous now, but I'm unconvinced of that.

We are more open about the dangers now - which is a very good thing - so people are more aware of it. But was the world so safe when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s? I highly doubt it.

James said...

Obviously people who have compromised immune systems have serious concerns

One of the reasons why people are more likely to have compromised immune systems is a lack of exposure to common, benign bacteria early in life (as in, from during birth onwards). The bacterial life that lives in and on us isn't parasitic, it's symbiotic -- we need them to live, and exposure to them is essential for training our bodies to be able to deal with not only them, but other, malignant, organisms.

my healthy co-workers who Lysol their phones every day and alcohol-swab their desks... Geez. How do people like that live in the world?

They're working hard to increase the chances that their kids will have allergies, asthma, diabetes, and other problems -- all the while thinking that they're doing good.

MRSA is only the most dramatic manifestation of this kind of problem.

Interesting side-note in Good Germs, Bad Germs: A decade or so ago, Quebec was heavily criticized when there was a major outbreak of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in hospitals, which killed over 100 patients. However, subsequent research by the CDC showed that there had also been similar, and more deadly, breakouts in the US, but no-one was really aware of them because there is no Federal requirement that hospitals actually disclose when these sorts of things happen. As a result, many hospitals were going through identical crises with no knowledge of the solutions found by their peers -- and many of the later outbreaks would have been completely avoidable if only those hospitals had known about the earlier ones, and been able to take countermeasures.

Amy said...

It is interesting to think about how far I could wander either on foot or on bike as a child---miles from my home visiting other friends or going into town for a pizza and a coke.

Harvey was allowed to go to Yankee Stadium, take the subway, even ride his bike over the GW Bridge. I admit---I would not have allowed my kids that degree of freedom, though they were free to ride their bikes anywhere in our suburban town as was I growing up. But Harvey's parents, who were real worriers, somehow let him wander around the Bronx and Manhattan fairly freely (once he was 12 or so--not as a little child). I bet there aren't many NYC parents today who let their kids that far off the leash.

L-girl said...

One of the reasons why people are more likely to have compromised immune systems is a lack of exposure to common, benign bacteria early in life (as in, from during birth onwards).

I was thinking of people with hepatitis, HIV or serious auto-immune diseases. None of that is caused by lack of exposure to bacteria, as far as I know.

What you're saying is very interesting, though. How does this fit in with health practitioners seeing a decline in basic hand-washing practices (after using the toilet, before handling food) and the belief that that contributes to MRSA?

L-girl said...

I bet there aren't many NYC parents today who let their kids that far off the leash.

My experience tells me that it's very common. Ride the subway in NYC at almost any time of day and you'll see scores of young teenagers on their way home from school, or on their way to jobs, practice, etc. My city friends all let their kids ride the subway, buses, roam around by themselves.

I associate the shorter leash with suburban parents, but that could be a prejudice of mine. (Could be? Uh, it is.)

James said...

I was thinking of people with hepatitis, HIV or serious auto-immune diseases. None of that is caused by lack of exposure to bacteria, as far as I know.

No, they aren't, and those folks have good reason to be concerned about bacteria. But allergies (including serious ones) are also the result of compromised immune systems -- your body starts reacting to harmless substances as if they were harmful.

How does this fit in with health practitioners seeing a decline in basic hand-washing practices (after using the toilet, before handling food) and the belief that that contributes to MRSA?

Hand-washing is different from antibiotic abuse. The overuse of antibiotics is a problem because antibiotics are substances which use a weakness in the bacteria's biochemistry to kill it. Any individual bacteria which, through mutation, don't have that particular weakness, survive the antibiotic and quickly grow to replace the original population, increasing the prevalence of bacteria that don't have the weakness.

Hand-washing, though is a mechanical procedure that simply pushes bacteria off your hands. There's no way for a bacteria to have an immunity to being physically shoved aside and flushed down the drain. As a result, any bacterial that are still around after you wash your hands are no more resistant to being washed away than the ones before -- so they don't introduce any new resistance. This is why hand-washing with soap is much better than hand-washing with antibacterial soap.

A lack of hand-washing doesn't contribute to MRSA's resistance to antibiotics, but it does provide a vector to spread MRSA once it's appeared.

I'm not done the book yet, so there may be more about that coming up.

L-girl said...

A lack of hand-washing doesn't contribute to MRSA's resistance to antibiotics, but it does provide a vector to spread MRSA once it's appeared.

Right, that's what I'm thinking of. I was confusing "the presence of" with "the spread of".

impudent strumpet said...

That's really weird. Even my overprotective parents wouldn't say the best thing about a vacation is that they felt that their kids were protected. (Unless, like, that was the only good thing about the vacation and the rest of it sucked.) Of course, my parents seem to have this subconscious idea that we're automatically safe if we're with them. This past winter I was in a car with them, on a very long drive through a very rural area on a cold snowy day, so I kept checking to see if I was getting cell phone reception in case the car broke down or something. They seemed genuinely surprised that such a thing would even occur to me. And yet they still called me to check in when I got home to make sure I'd survived *gasp* the subway and then the five minute walk home in *gasp* the dark!

Although they did let me go on bike rides in our small townish suburbish area without any apparent limits from about the age of 10, but I was never ever allowed to be at a friend's house if their parents weren't home until both I and the friend were 18 (obviously I ignored this rule). In retrospect, what I should have done is said I was going for a nice long wholesome athletic bike ride, then just ridden to a friend's house.

Re: emergency room, I went to the emergency room only once, from broken bones incurred from a freak accident in a nice wholesome well-supervised gym class. So the moral of the story is don't let your kids take gym! Let them sit out and play on the internet instead!

Amy said...

IS, your parents sound similar to mine and also to the way we raised our kids. Hey, we turned out ok, so can't be all bad to have strict and somewhat neurotic parents!

The only bones I ever broke were broken by my younger sister when my parents left us home unsupervised at ages 12 (me) and 9 (her). So...so much for safety at home!

impudent strumpet said...

amy: mostly it just made me a good liar.

Actually, my second-worst injury was also from my sister when I was 12 and she was 9, she threw something at me and chipped my tooth. Maybe the moral of the story is don't have two daughters spaced 3 years apart.

Just thought of something tangentally related. My friend is a Toronto high-school teacher, and he was telling me that when they let school out early for a snow day, they had to call each student's parents and get verbal permission before they could release that student. I found this strange, because when I was in high school we'd just leave without any ado. Once we even had a bomb threat (shortly after Columbine) and classes were cancelled so we just walked away and went home. So I just recently asked my mother if that had worried her, and she said "No, if there's a bomb I want you leaving the area where the bomb is. And besides, when I was in school I had to walk home twice as far when there was a snowstorm." I guess you can't guilt your kid about something and be overprotective about it at the same time.

mkk said...

Greetings, wmtc readers! I am L-girl's sister-in-law and "mom to three *very* independent-minded young adults, the above-mentioned world travelers. And also...someone meticulous about safety."

I confess that I have always been overly worried about the safety of our children, and I remain so, now that they are all in their twenties. My sometimes-irrational fear was first learned/inherited from my overly cautious mother and then reinforced in my work as a physical therapist ("physio" in Canada) with patients who have sustained all manner of dreadful injuries. Still, my husband and I encouraged our children to take certain calculated risks.

Through the years, we spent many wonderful family vactions hiking in the mountains and exploring national parks. A running theme was my warning the kids to avoid venturing too close to the edge of a cliff. I would say, "Don't fall off the mountain." They would reply, "You can't fall off a mountain," followed by my, "Of course you can fall off a mountain. That's what gravity does."

I never wanted to be proven right about this. One summer, on a trip to Machu Picchu, the kids set off to climb a very steep mountain -- sufficiently dangerous that climbers are required to sign out with the park rangers and then sign in again when they return. My husband and I had done the same climb the year before (on a trip without them) but decided to let them have this adventure on their own. It had rained all morning, and I warned them to be extra careful because it would be slippery. They returned to our hotel exhilarated from the climb, but they also reported that a woman had fallen to her death off that very mountain the same morning.

Yesterday, our 27-year-old son called me from his California home, very shaken and emotional. A friend of his had just died, having fallen off a cliff on a hike with her boyfriend.

One cannot live one's life in constant fear and dread. We simply need to be careful. As I often said to the kids as they were growing up, "You don't always get a second chance."

Amy said...

Hi, MKK. Thanks for your input. It sounds like you also have struggled with the line between protecting kids and letting them take risks.

There was an article in the NYTimes recently about how parents have an illusion that their kids are safe---a survival mechanism, really. Once that illusion is shattered when a child is seriously hurt or ill, parents tend to suffer post-traumatic stress far longer and in far more severe ways than their children. Once they realize they cannot keep their children safe, they just never feel as secure again.

So we need that illusion of safety to let them take risks and grow, but deep inside we worry because we know it is just that-an illusion.

I feel for your son. I had a close friend who died much the same way when I was 18. That shattered my illusions of youthful invulnerability. Maybe it is part of why I have worried so as a parent.

redsock said...

One summer, on a trip to Machu Picchu, the kids set off to climb a very steep mountain -- sufficiently dangerous that climbers are required to sign out with the park rangers and then sign in again when they return.

I tried that. I got maybe 1/3 of the way up (more like 1/4 probably), was scared shitless, and came back down. I'm afraid of heights, but still, I don't know how anyone gets up that mountain.

L-girl said...

Thanks mkk! :)

I still maintain and Amy and mkk were not over-protective parents, as far as I can tell.

Worry is a feeling. It's not an action. You worry about your kids, but you encouraged them to ski, or climb mountains, or live away from home, or travel independently. Those are actions.

And, as I said, I don't think anyone in their right mind thinks curfews, knowing where you children are, etc. is neurotic or overprotective.

Overprotective is what ImpStrump is talking about, and as you see, she says it only taught her to lie. Most people I know from very strict homes say the same thing (including me).

When my father was very strict (not overprotective - overcontrolling), I did whatever I wanted and lied all the time.

L-girl said...

That's really weird. Even my overprotective parents wouldn't say the best thing about a vacation is that they felt that their kids were protected. (Unless, like, that was the only good thing about the vacation and the rest of it sucked.)

This is interesting. She did go on and on about what a great trip it was. Perhaps this woman isn't indicative of a trend, but just a neurotic individual.

Of course, my parents seem to have this subconscious idea that we're automatically safe if we're with them.

My father used to be like that. Even if he did stupid or even reckless things, we were safe if we were with him. Talk about illusions.

In general, safety is an illusion, but one that we need to function. If we thought all the time about all the dangers of the world, we'd be too afraid to do anything.

Amy said...

Worry is a feeling. It's not an action.

Ah, but here's the run. Kids know our feelings, even if we try hard to conceal them. They know we are worried, so even if I am saying, "Go ski whatever trail you want. See you at lunch," they also know I am feeling and thinking, "Don't go too fast. Don't go where you aren't comfortable. Watch our for ice and rocks and trees, etc." I am sure that sensing our feelings and fears has some effect on their own sense of security and confidence, even if our actions seem to say, "Go take risks."

But no, I didn't tell them they had to call whenever they got home, or that they couldn't be alone in a house with friends until they were 18. I would have LIKED to, but I didn't. :)

Amy said...

That's should say "rub," not "run."

WHen will blogger add an editing function??

Amy said...

IS, maybe the most dangerous thing we face as kids are our siblings! Perhaps if our parents were really worried, they would have only one child.

(My two girls, four years apart, never broke each other's bones, but they certainly inflicted plenty of pain through words and the occasional punch or pinch.)

magnolia_2000 said...

Americans take vacations, Canadians go on holiday...smile.

L-girl said...

Sorry Magnolia, lots of Canadians take vacations too. It varies a lot.

ErinOrtlund said...

I hardly ever worry about my kids and germs--like others have said, isn't it good for their bodies to fight things off? But I don't think I'd want to take my kids on a cruise--what if they climbed over the railing?

From the child perspective, I appreciated any freedom my parents gave me. From the mothering perspective, I guess I'm pretty overprotective, but not that different from my peers. I wonder why this is? More media attention for things like kidnapping? The ironic thing is that parents may feel their kids are safe at home, but they may be getting into more trouble on the internet.