Tag Archives: helicopter parents

Regulation of the Day 216: Selling Ice Cream to Kids


It can be hard for parents, but they need to tell their kids “no” from time to time. Letting children know that they can’t always get what they want is an important lesson in life. In Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood, not all parents are up to the task.

Across the country, ice cream vendors will stroll through parks in the summer months; they go where ice cream trucks dare not tread. A lot of their sales are to kids. And parents know what happens when you get between a kid and ice cream: screaming, wailing, and gnashing of teeth are only the beginning. It isn’t fun.

That’s why some Park Slope parents want to ban ice cream vendors from parks. One parent wrote on a message board, “I should not have to fight with my children every warm day on the playground just so someone can make a living!”

One sees where her priorities are in these hard economic times.

This being Brooklyn, there is another wrinkle. The New York Post reports:

But Sarah Schenck says just say no to frozen confections.

Schenck, a mother of two and co-founder of the eco-friendly parentearth.com, said statistics back her up.

“Nobody wants to be a crank, but one in three kids are going to be obese or diabetic by high school,” she said. “When my kids see other kids get ice cream, they just start begging me. I just don’t think these are the fights we should be having.”

Most people have more nuanced views than Schenck; everything in moderation and all that. But there are people who think like her, and they are not afraid to use regulation to get their way. We should tell them no.

Should Helicopter Parents Stop Hovering over Their Kids?

Helicopter parents — constantly hovering over their children — have their heart in the right place. But that style of parenting has always struck me as… unnecessary.

My former professor Bryan Caplan agrees. He has a new book out that’s based on his research on identical twins. As it turns out, a lot of how kids will turn out as adults is based on nature, not nurture. The implication: parents can ease up on the high-maintenance parenting style that is so fashionable today.

In The Wall Street Journal, Caplan writes, “With a few exceptions, the effect of parenting on adult outcomes ranges from small to zero.”

He continues:

Once I became a dad, I noticed that parents around me had a different take on the power of nurture. I saw them turning parenthood into a chore—shuttling their kids to activities even the kids didn’t enjoy, forbidding television, desperately trying to make their babies eat another spoonful of vegetables. Parents’ main rationale is that their effort is an investment in their children’s future; they’re sacrificing now to turn their kids into healthy, smart, successful, well-adjusted adults.  But according to decades of twin research, their rationale is just, well, wrong.

Caplan also uses the law of demand to encourage people to have more kids. One reason people have fewer kids than they used to is because they make parenting very costly for themselves than previous generations did.

By easing up a bit, parenting becomes much cheaper in terms of time, effort, and stress. And when something becomes cheaper, people tend to buy more of it. Or, in this case, Caplan says they should at least give it serious thought.

I’ll have to read the book before I can call myself convinced or not. But Caplan’s thesis that parenting doesn’t have to be a chore makes some intuitive sense. And while fatherhood is probably a few years away for this blogger, It does make the prospect of parenthood seem a little less daunting.