And riding around in one keeping an eye on our kids is no way to raise the next generation.
Instead of helicopter parenting, Wolpe argues that parents should try "helium parenting." Consider their kids a balloon floating upwards. All parents need to do is grip lighting, maybe give a quick tug, until they're ready to be released.
Helicopter, helium, free-range: There are countless techniques for keeping a close watch on our kids, but that doesn't mean we have to. Or that we should. Parenting by panic, Wolpe says, damages kids.
A recent detention of kids allowed to walk home alone and countless news stories of "good samaritans" reporting neglect instead of, you know, talking to parents—and apps that give parents NSA-level surveillance ability of their children—show the contradictions and pressures today's parents of young kids face.
Wolpe remembers what it was like when kids roaming around town wasn't an act of rebellion—rather, childhood. He wants to encourage parents to step back, ground the choppers, think of a different way to be there for their kids without damaging them.
"We should hold on to our children as a child holds on to a balloon," he says. "Let them rise, float on their own, but keep a grasp on the string. In time we will need to release our grip, but in the meantime, instead of hovering from above, we should be holding lightly from below. Think of it as parental string theory."