I've been trying to read more news articles - particularly on children and parenting recently, and there's a significant trend in reporting on the concept of 'helicopter parenting', and it's quite a controversial topic.
This article on the Today Moms website, talks about crawling helmets being made for babies - not for riding on a bicycle or anything like that - but for everyday crawling around the house. To protect them from normal baby bumps and bruises.
I doubt that a helmet on a baby at 8 months will significantly affect how this child behaves when he is older, but the pattern indicated by the parents who require this at this age might just indicate a level of paranoia that will probably significantly affect that poor child when they are old enough to realize just how abnormal their parents are. By putting a helmet on a crawling baby, you might decrease his risk of a serious head injury, but you are also likely increasing his risk of a serious psychological imbalance. I have seen children who are 'babied' to a small degree, and they become adults who are not really confident in being adults. They have been told that they need help and protection from everything, so they go along with that, and never branch out on their own or do anything productive for themselves. They become unproductive and unsatisfied people.
I have a 16 month old daughter, and not a week goes by when I don't panic about some terrifying possibility or another. My daughter could get hurt someday - but honestly, there are no lengths I could go to that would protect her from everything. There is ALWAYS - no matter what I do - the chance out there that she could get hurt, or even killed. My daughter is mortal - someday she will die - and I pray that it is not for at least another 80 years, but no one has that guarantee.
So, with every choice I make with her, I have to think about the immediate consequences as well as the long-term ones. Ultimately, what will this choice do for my daughter, and what is the likelyhood of each possible consequence?
If I allow her to go to the park unsupervised, is the 0.0002% risk that she could be kidnapped enough to outweigh the 48% risk of her having less confidence as an individual if I keep her home, and never allow her in public without an adult closely present?
Will she be required to wear a helmet while riding a bike? Absolutely. Will I demand she wear a seatbelt in the car? Of course. Will I teach her how to protect herself and be wary of strangers? Yes.
But there will come a day when she will the leave the house and I won't see what she does. She might be 13 and riding a bike with her friends helmet-free, or 17 and getting into a vehicle and choosing not to wear a seatbelt. Someday, she may choose to trust someone who shouldn't be trusted and allow herself to be taken advantage of. And I will have to pray and trust that I have taught her well, and that she will choose by herself - with no one watching her - to be as safe as she can be.
As her mother - from the moment she came into being, I began the process of letting go. The process of realizing that she is not part of me, but an entirely separate being, and is learning how to be 'herself' more and more each day.
Yes, I want her to be safe, but I want so much more for her to be HER. Even if that means taking a few bumps and bruises along the way. I have to accept the fact that anything could happen, and that is part of life, but I will make every effort to make sure that she is free to be herself.