An academic paper by a group of child psychologists caused a stir earlier this week. ‘Helicopter parenting is bad for children,’ was how the Times reported it, and other news outlets summarised it in the same way. Here was proof, apparently, that wrapping your children in cotton wool and limiting their exposure to risk is bad for their emotional development and can lead to problems at school, as well as difficulties in later life.
A few years ago, when I was in the first flush of fatherhood, I would have leapt on this study as confirmation that my laissez-faire attitude to parenting was more effective than the more hands-on approach of my peers. Indeed, I have written columns in the past praising parents who leave children to their own devices and criticising schools for protecting them from failure. I’m a big fan of The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden and am constantly hurling my children up rock faces and telling them not to be so wet when they get stuck. (To read more, click here.)