Opinion Brief

Colorado's ruined Easter egg hunt: Helicopter parents gone too far?

A beloved annual tradition is wrecked by inexcusably childish behavior — from the parents, not the kids

It's safe to say the 2011 Easter egg hunt in Old Colorado City, Colo., did not go as planned. Organizers had expected young kids to waddle out into Bancroft Park and collect the brightly colored plastic eggs that had been strewn on the grass. Instead, when the master of ceremonies gave the signal to start, the field was overrun by overzealous parents. The hunt was over in the blink of an eye, much to the bewilderment of the children standing on the sidelines and the anger of those parents who had played by the rules. This year, Old Colorado City canceled the event, and the debacle is being characterized as a prime example of "helicoptering," in which parents constantly hover over their children and try to micromanage every part of their lives. Is the city's Easter egg controversy a symptom of a larger problem?

Parents these days can't let children be children: Old Colorado City's Easter egg hunt is a "perfect metaphor" for our times, Ron Aslop, the author of The Trophy Kids Grow Up, tells the Associated Press. Parents "can't stay out of their children's lives. They don't give their children enough chances to learn from hard knocks, mistakes." And the phenomenon isn't going away anytime soon. Everything from college admissions to day camps is "more competitive, fast paced," and parents will do everything they can "to help their kids get an edge."
"Easter-egg hunt canceled due to aggressive 'helicopter' parents"

And parents are disgracing themselves: Let's hope the plastic eggs those parents scooped up contain coupons for dignity, says Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel. It's a shame a "sweet holiday tradition involving children's laughter and fun" turned into a "rough-and-tumble, no-holds-barred, collarbone-snapping competition." Sadly, today's overbearing parents "have never met a kids-only event they can't ruin."
"Easter egg hunt cancelled because parents can't be trusted to act like adults"

But it's hard to see your child empty-handed: "It is no picnic — even on a picnic lawn — to be the family with the sobbing child who hasn't scored a single plastic oval," says Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon. Then again, "life is full of tantrums and disappointments," and we shouldn't treat a "springtime frolic" as seriously as a "Harvard admissions interview." The only way kids are going to learn anything about the world is "by getting into the hunt by themselves."
"Easter egg hunt gone wild"

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