Are parents too overprotective?

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HOUSTON, Texas - So, what happened to childhood?  Long gone are the days when kids used to ride their bikes and roam around the neighborhood without constant parental supervision.

But yesterday's children are today's helicopter parents, and it's very unlikely that they would let their kids be as free as they were in those golden days.  Some say it's because of kidnappings or pedophiles, but according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, cases of kids being abducted by strangers are very rare.  Instead, there's usually a relative involved in those episodes.

"I think that the media plays into parents' fears", explained education consultant Sarah Mushlin. "I think that the other reason is more cultural: it's all about how parents perceive other parents will interpret their actions."

It's not only a matter of parental discretion, though: remember what happened to those parents in Maryland who let their 10 and 6-year old children walk alone to and from the park: Child Protective Services found them responsible for child neglect.

"I think that lot of the change that may be needed has to take place first and foremost among parents", said Mushlin.  "So, discussions on social media, discussions in person, raising awareness around the importance of letting our kids have independence away from us, and have freedom, and how much their confidence grows, their self-esteem grows… this is what the research shows."

So, who knows?  Perhaps we should reassess the balance between protecting and empowering our children.  And while you're thinking it over, how about opening the door and letting your kids go out and play?