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Aggressive parents force egg hunt cancellation

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Organizers of an annual Easter egg hunt attended by hundreds of children have canceled this year's event, citing the behavior of aggressive parents who swarmed into the tiny park last year, determined that their kids get an egg.

That hunt was over in seconds, to the consternation of egg-less tots and their own parents. Too many parents had jumped a rope set up to allow only children into Bancroft Park in a historic area of Colorado Springs.

Organizers say the event has outgrown its original intent of being a neighborhood event.

Parenting observers cite the cancellation as a prime example of so-called "helicopter parents" — those who hover over their children and are involved in every aspect of their children's lives — sports, school, and increasingly work — to ensure that they don't fail, even at an Easter egg hunt.

"They couldn't resist getting over the rope to help their kids," said Ron Alsop, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and author of "The Trophy Kids Grow Up," which examines the "millennial children" generation.

"That's the perfect metaphor for millennial children. They (parents) can't stay out of their children's lives. They don't give their children enough chances to learn from hard knocks, mistakes."

Alsop and others say the parenting phenomenon began in earnest when Baby Boomers who decorated their cars with "Baby on Board" signs in the 1980s began having children. It has prompted at least two New York companies to establish "take your parent to work day" for new recruits as parents remain involved even after their children become adults.

Last April's egg hunt, sponsored by the Old Colorado City Association, attracted hundreds of parents and children and experienced a few technical difficulties, said Mazie Baalman, owner of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and sponsor of the event.

There was no place to hide the plastic eggs, which were filled with donated candy or coupons redeemable at nearby businesses. So thousands of eggs were placed in plain view on the grass. A bullhorn to start the event malfunctioned, so Baalman, master of ceremonies, used a public address system that was hard to hear.

"So everybody thinks you said `Go,' and everybody goes, and it's over in seconds," Baalman said. "If one parent gets in there, other parents say, `If one can get in we all can get in,' and everybody goes."

Jennifer Rexford used to live near the park and now lives in Galveston, Texas. She said she used to participate in public Easter egg hunts with her three boys, ages 3, 8, and 14. She doesn't anymore because of "pushy parents" she experienced at hunts in Florida and Texas.

"It just seems to be the mindset. People just want the best for their kids," Rexford said.

Lenny Watkins, who lives a block away from Bancroft Park, took his friend's then 4-year-old son to the hunt in 2009.

"I just remember having a wonderful time, him with his Easter basket" Watson said, adding that he can understand why a parent would step in.

"You have all these eggs just lying around, and parents helping out. You better believe I'm going to help my kid get one of those eggs. I promised my kid an Easter egg hunt and I'd want to give him an even edge."

Alsop said that dynamic is at play with parents who hover over their children, even into adulthood.

"I don't see any sign of it abating," he said. "It seems everything is more and more and more competitive, fast paced, and I think parents are going to see they need to do more to help their kids get an edge."

by on Mar. 26, 2012 at 7:36 AM
Replies (31-40):
by on Mar. 26, 2012 at 11:59 AM
2 moms liked this

Sadly, I think more parents would be inclined to step in for their children to help them get an Easter egg than are willing to step in and help them study and do homework so they get a decent overall education.

Quoting MrsTBailey:

No wonder the school system is suffering in regards to SAT & PSAT testings and also why a lot of kids drop out of school!

by on Mar. 26, 2012 at 12:06 PM
2 moms liked this

We do Easter egg hunts in my town, parents are allowed to help the really little kids, like 2 or 3 year olds, but its never been a problem as they are fair about it, they will point their kids in the right direction of a couple eggs and leave it at that, they dont try to grab every egg in sight and shove it in their kids baskets. Other then that, if a parent is seen being overly active in the hunt, they are asked to leave. Yes, sometimes my kids get less eggs then other kids, sometimes they get more, sometimes they get disappointed that their friend got twice as many, but we dont dwell on that and dont make a big deal about it, we say "you got a lot of eggs too, so what if she got more, congradulate her, next year you can have another chance to get more, you did a great job, lets go play with your friends" and then its back to smiles and they forget about the whole thing. Kids need to learn to lose sometimes, that its not always bad to have less then someone, that its about the fun of the game, not just "winning" at an egg hunt.

by on Mar. 26, 2012 at 12:06 PM

Good for the town!! We do our own Egg Hunt with the kids, because of things like the article mentioned. And if it's not the parents "helping" it's the older kids with overfull baskets and coat pockets!!

I like that some places separate by age and have limits on how many eggs a child can have.

by on Mar. 26, 2012 at 12:19 PM

thats really messed up but i have seen it first hand, last year there was parents grabbing eggs out of toddlers hands at the one we went to which was a church event

by on Mar. 26, 2012 at 12:25 PM

I can understand this...

When I took my son to an Easter Egg hunt, back when he was two, the parents were allowed on... ONE parent. You weren't supposed to pick up the eggs, your kids was. My son was allowed to be in with the one year olds because he needed direct guidance (not understanding yet). I simply would point at an egg, which for the one year olds eggs were layed in the grass, and encourage him to pick it up and put it in the bucket... I think we got three, lol. Some children walked away with 20-30 eggs. I couldn't understand just how a one year old could gather 20-30 eggs in five minutes.... My just-turned-two year old was able to get three...

This year, we'll be taking them on a hunt again. My son will get to be with his Daddy and I'll be with our daugther. Since our son is now old enough to get the whole pick up and egg and put it in your bucket, he won't need any help, lol. Daddy won't have to do much more than tell him he can't eat the candy right then and there.... My daughter is only a year old though. Getting her to put the crayons in the bucket, without taking more out is a problem!

We'll have a small hunt here at home, for hardboiled decorated eggs too, but just for a dozen, since my hubby is the only one who eats hard boiled. My son will have to 'find' his basket this year, while my daughter's will be sitting on the table. 

by on Mar. 26, 2012 at 12:26 PM

Stupid parents. I mean really. In our town the kids are split into age groups though to prevents little ones from not getting an egg & older ones from stealing the eggs from little ones, etc. All in all though it is the parents fault, if only they had been nice, appreciative & proactive in making sure the following year things would go more smoothly then they would not have the issue now of no egg hunt at all. 

by Bronze Member on Mar. 26, 2012 at 12:28 PM



by on Mar. 26, 2012 at 12:36 PM
2 moms liked this

I feel sorry for kids who have parents like that.

by on Mar. 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM
so sad

by on Mar. 26, 2012 at 12:58 PM

We do one at my church and we take steps to avoid pushy kids and pushy parents. We hide eggs in different sections of the church yard, making them easy to find in one spot and harder to find in another. Then we send the kids out in age groups. Ages one to three are allowed to have parents accompany them but 4 and up, parents have to watch from the side and if you step in, you and your kid are out.

We also ask people to RSVP (since you don't have to attend the church to participate) so we know how many eggs to hide and the kids are given a set number of how many eggs they can pick up. Then we encourage them to help the other kids find their eggs so it's cooperation, not competition. That way everyone has fun and they learn to or together. 

We also have a little carnival inside with prizes for anyone who's too old for the egg hunt. We recieve so many compliments with people telling us how much they love our system. Everyone is included, everyone gets something and the kids are safe from older kids and competitive parents who wouldn't blink at pushing another kid over to get that egg for themselves.

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