Jane, I can only theorize what’s behind this trend of overly protective parenting, and my answer is this: a lot of us “older people" (I’m a young Boomer) had to learn stuff on our own, because that’s the way "old school" parenting often worked (my parents called it “the school of “hard knocks"). I believe some people wish to do parenting differently than how they were raised, so they went to the other extreme and became “helicopter parents" who did/do everything for their kids. The result is a bunch of highly dependent people who can’t subsist on their own wits (and/or who don’t do critical/analytical thinking very well), and I think this is really sad. Either it’s this or just a control issue, or something else, but that’s my thoughts on the subject.
I have one child, a son who’s now 25 and getting a good start in life. Because I saw the good and not-so-good in the way I was raised, I mixed some of the “old school" ways and threw in some positive parenting practices and it seemed to have worked. It was my thought that he be raised to be a competent, confident, independent person who could handle life on his own (and that’s how he turned out, even though I — a single mom for most of his life — don’t take all the credit for how he’s turned out). I thought that was what parenting was supposed to be about: to raise productive, contributing members of society. I think part of my philosophy in parenting came from seeing the dynamics of my ex husband’s family, who seemingly raised their kids to basically be scared of everything, and be pretty dependent, which I thought was sad. Then I met all these other kids, my son’s friends and other pets, who were all apparentlyy raised the same way. Since they can’t do a whole lot of critical thinking of their own, they rely on others to think for them.
So anyway, these are my two cents.