Friday, September 28, 2012

Tax Incentives to Stop Helicopter Parents from Shortening the Life Expectancies of their Children

In a generation we have wiped out the practice of letting our children walk to school and of letting them play outside unsupervised. Sports are highly organized and competitive, forcing many children to quit by age 12 because they aren't destined to be superstars. Grade 8 PE teachers say they are seeing more and more kids who can't run,  jump or dribble a ball. This adds up to a booming health care industry, a stretched health care system, and a declining life expectancy for the average Canadian.

What's the cause? Helicopter parenting just might be the biggest culprit. Have you ever heard parents rationalize their child's lack of physical activity or justify forcing a child to specialize in one sport like this:
My kids will be abducted if they go outside without me!
There is too much traffic on the roads for bike riding!
I don't have time to walk my child to school!
I just want my kid to focus on one sport so he can make the rep team!

Fear-based parenting, a declining life expectancy and money

A few years ago the Federal Government introduced the Child Fitness Credit. You can get a tax credit up to $75 per child if you spend over $500 per calendar year on sports fees and memberships. This is a good idea, but where is the incentive to let your child try all kinds of sports every year and be active every day?

I think deeper tax incentives may help. How about additional tax credits for putting your kids in multiple sports in a single year, say 3 or more different sports per child? Or, what about tax credits for sport safety gear like bike helmets and knee pads?

As for helicopter parents driving kids to school and keeping their kids indoors to keep them safe, we may need to spend some money advertising in markets aimed at first-time parents. We need to let parents know that that the real world is really not scary...not as scary as unhappiness, low self-esteem, and a shorter, sicker life.

Copyright 2012. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved.
For reprint permission contact moneyme at telus dot net.

1 comment:

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