Thursday, June 6, 2013

Shocking Parental Behavior

Why are some parents so overprotective and overreactive with their children? Tonight, while waiting to order at a restaurant, I watched a father who does not “get it.”

He was standing in line with his family right in front of me. I think he had two or three rugrats. One of them was a tiny girl about two years old, give or take six months. Cute as a bug’s ear. She was walking around, looking to entertain herself, but generally staying in sight of Mom and Dad.

On the wall nearby was an electrical outlet. She saw it and went to investigate closer. In fact, she went right up and touched the outlet’s slot. As anyone can easily see, outlets are designed with slots so narrow that even an infant cannot fit her finger far enough into them to reach the metal contacts inside. This child could not possibly have gotten hurt using only her bare finger. If she’d had a small metal object, things would be different. She didn’t have anything, just her finger.

As soon as Mr. Worrypants saw what she was doing, he sprang into action. Moving with lightning speed from his position about ten feet away, he swept up the child while virtually yelling, “No, no, no! Don’t touch that!”

I wanted to tell him, “Chillax, dude. She’s not trying to clean a key in there, just touching the outside cover.”

Image courtesy of

Of course, his response startled her, and she began to cry. More like a brief whimper, really. So he over-corrected again and hugged her tightly while soothing her in a stupid baby-talk voice: “It’s okay, daddy wuvs you. Daddy wuuuvs you.” Really, doofus? You want her to learn to talk like that?

Tip for new parents: kids mimic what they see and hear. If you want them to learn to speak correctly, speak correctly to them. I know, a radical approach, huh? Not only that, but kids are very adept at reading their parents’ emotions, from a very young age. If you want them to be frightened and upset, freak out around them. To help them remain calm and comfortable, well, you know what I’m going to say here…

Imagine what this guy will do in 10 or 15 years when his special princess is confronted with real dangers.


  1. I stand by my opinion that there should be a test in order to breed. We have to take a test to drive, to enter the military, to get a degree, but reproduction? Heck that's biological so it's a right not a privilege. Nope. The world is far too overpopulated to continue unheeded.

    Man! How insane and dictatorish does that make me sound?

    1. Actually, this guy probably would have passed and gotten a breeding license. He cares about his kids' safety and happiness, and he's aware of what they do. It's the nuances beyond those basic requirements that many parents miss, making them as annoying as a live wire in your underwear.

      One curious thing was that through the interchange described above, Mom was totally aloof. I don't know if she usually ignores Dad and kids, or if she was simply too occupied with ordering their food. I CAN tell that she is high maintenance. She gave lots of special instructions and insisted the meal got prepared exactly per her requests.

  2. The "I wuv you" is the scariest part of the story. Totally agree with everything said here in theory, however in the moment of truth, I would lose it and react the same way. There's just a worry gene in me and I can't help it. When I later examine my behaviour (and by later I mean as soon as I catch myself overreacting) I completely understand how ridiculous it is. It's good to come across examples of more reasonable parenting even if this one is just in writing. It serves as a good reminder.

    1. Mrs. Christensen also overreacts sometimes when it comes to our kids' safety. She doesn't pause to consider how big a child's finger is relative to an electrical outlet slot, for example, and she might panic briefly.

      Dave Barry said, "If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there's a man on base."

  3. Very difficult to know where that line is between overprotective and too casual.
    I'm with you, but I wouldn't hold it against the father.

    Except the wuv thing. That I hold against him...

    1. Every parent is entitled to his own placement of that line. Unfortunately, I'm the only one who has located it perfectly.