Homer Numan

Homer Numan

Friday, April 11, 2008

Cotton Wool Kids

There was a quirky little programme on Channel 4 last night, called 'Cotton Wool Kids.'

It concerned the often obsessive behaviour of modern-day parents, some of who go to farcical lengths to protect their kids from their idea of danger.

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, the voiceovers were kept to a minimum and the programme was largely narrated by the parents and their worried offspring.

We were treated to a little girl of about 6, who took us on a tour of her tiny back garden, pointing out all the hidden 'dangers', which included such deadly threats as a thistle and a slippery patch of grass.

Another girl told us how she was scared of rapists and yet another who was told to grow her nails long to scratch any would-be abductors.

Other terrifying dangers included teenagers, strangers, gang members and dogs.
One mother drove her kids into town, pointing out lone men and even lone women as potential kidnappers. The spectre of Madeline McCann was invoked constantly.

It was all a very far cry from the 'good old days' when kids could play in the woods or on the streets all day unmolested. Apparently.

The truth of course is rather different. Certainly roads are busier these days, and crime generally has risen, but abductions by strangers remain incredibly rare and gang attacks tend to be by definition amongst gangs.

Then I thought about how close this all was to home. Is it better to push your children out into the street amongst the other kids, let him/her take the knocks, the bitchiness and the rough and tumble, or is it better to keep them in with their Wii, DS and Playstation? Is it better to avoid the petty rows with other parents or chalk it all up to the rich experience of family life? And when is the best time to 'let go'?

I don't have the answers and somehow I doubt anyone else does either.

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