After Living Abroad, Kids Struggle With American Overparenting

In the home of the brave, a kid can’t hold a pencil on the school bus.

When Jean Phillipson’s family returned to Fairfax, Virginia, after living in Bolivia, the main thing her 10-year-old son complained about was the bus ride home from school. “He wasn’t allowed to have a pencil out,” says the mom of three, “because it was considered unsafe.”

Welcome back, kid, to the land of the outlandishly cautious.

I asked children and parents who’d lived both abroad and here in the States what struck them as the biggest difference. They all said it was the lack of childhood independence in America.

Wasn’t always so.

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