Helicopter Parenting…Please Stop It!


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**Warning…I will be veering from my usual sarcastic blogging style in the form of a much needed rant!***

I was perusing the NY Post online, as I do every morning, and came across an article that made me cringe in disbelief.  Rich parents in NYC are hiring “play date consultants” to teach their children how to “play better” for private school admissions. These parents are actually paying these “consultants” $400 an hour to teach their children how to play and socialize  “correctly”!!!  The article states the following:

*Rheault’s pricey play dates involve groups of three to five 4-year-olds playing in a room. The experts closely monitor how the kids share crayons, color, follow directions in Simon Says, and hold a pencil. 

*Experts said that kids may need the play-date tutoring because their young lives have become so regimented, with classes in subjects like Mandarin and violin, that they don’t know how to play with others.

*“These children have five classes a week but they don’t know the simplest thing — how to be at ease and play spontaneously with a child,” said Wednesday Martin, who documents Manhattan motherhood in her upcoming book, “Primates of Park Avenue.”

*****Climbing On Soapbox*****

As a parent and a teacher, let me tell you a little something here…obviously this is an extreme example of “Helicopter Parenting”, but it is really no different than what I see on almost a daily basis from parents who cannot afford to spend $400 an hour on making their children “perfect”.  Quite often, I wonder if people have legitimately lost their minds when it comes to parenting.

My parents never did this when I was growing up, and unbelievably I turned out fine. (If you are in the 35-ish range, then I am sure your parents didn’t either!)  Not only did I turn out fine (alright…fine-ish), but guess what I can do?? I can actually think for myself, figure things out on my own, and function quite nicely on a daily basis without wondering what I should do every second on the day!  I understand that not everyone is going to like me, everything isn’t going to go smoothly in life, and I’m not going to get a round of applause every time I “do the right thing”, or a trophy simply for participating. I am perfectly fine with that premise, because that’s not the way society is supposed to work.

If you are a “Helicopter Parent” (and a good deal of you are, whether you chose to admit it or not), you are doing your child a great disservice in life. You may not believe it, but you truly are.  Every single time you hover over your child telling them exactly what to do and how to act in every situation, you’re making a big mistake. Every single time you do something for your child, like their homework, or their school project (by the way, teachers always know when you do that), you’re making a big mistake.  You may think you are helping, but in essence, what you are creating is a child who:

*cannot think for him or herself.

*will not even try to think for him/herself, because they have learned that is just easier to wait for someone else to tell him/her how to do things.

*will throw in the towel the second things get “too hard” because they have been taught that they will either be rescued, or someone else will come along and just do it for him/her.

Here’s a little free advice…

* Instead of telling your child how to think, perhaps you teach them how to think instead.  There is a VERY big difference between the two.

*Let them experience failure once in a while, even if it produces tears. It is those little “failures” in life that will make the difference. Those will be the lessons that make your child a stronger and better person in the long run. When your child experiences a “failure”, discuss it with him/her. You can go the “try, try again” route, or you can explain that everything is not going to go their way in life and teach them coping skills. That’s what will pay off big dividends…not you swooping in and fixing it.

*Let your child experience success on his/her own. Think about that beaming smile on a child’s face when they realize they “did it”.  It’s a great moment in a child’s life, no matter what that “it” might be. For example, riding a bike without training wheels. Think about that moment when you finally let go of the bike seat and your child unsteadily pedals away. It’s such a great, great moment for your child. They might pedal away happily, or they might fall down after a few seconds, but it’s the one thing that they are doing on their own!  Think back to when you learned. I know you all remember it…why, because it was likely your first true moment of independence. Teach your child independence in other facets of life too. As a parent, I get it that it’s tough to loosen the reins or let go. It hurts your heart a little to see that new found independence, but they need it. They will remember it. It’s essential.

and finally, and most important of all…

* Let your child be a child!!! Children are curious. Children do silly things. Children make mistakes. Those are all normal parts of childhood. Let your children experience the wonders and lessons of being a child, and let them learn from it. I look back to all of the times I played with my brother, cousins, and friends growing up and laugh. Now, if my mom was standing over me when we decided that the clothesline that descended down the three levels of our yard was perfect for gliding like a superhero (it wasn’t), or when I decided that I wanted a cast because it looked cool, so I dove off of the top of the monkey bars every single day, elbow first, for a week trying to break my arm (Unbelievably, it never worked, but it really hurt!) or went along with it when it was my turn to climb down into the sewer to get the ball we lost (Ewwww!), then none of those things would have happened…but they did…and I turned out OK..because I was being a child. None of those examples were pleasant lessons but I did learn something each time, and I still remember them.

Listen, I get it that you want the best for your child. There would be something wrong with you if you didn’t. As a parent, I want the best for my child too, and as a teacher, I want the best for every child in my class. The price that comes with it for my child and my students is teaching them how to think on their own,  learning to do things for themselves, experiencing both failure and success at their own hands, and experiencing various forms of independence. Is it always easy? I’d be lying if I said it was. However, I truly believe the positives outweigh the negatives in the end.

Think about it…what lessons are you teaching your children? I know we all have our moments of wanting to “fix things” or “do things right” for our children, and we’ve all done it at some point…but if it’s what you do ALL the time, then in the long run it’s going to be much more detrimental than it will ever be helpful….whether you’re paying $400 an hour for it or not. Society is headed in a scary direction in the future with the crop of someday-adults that are currently being raised with “Helicopter Parenting” techniques.  Sorry, but that is the absolute truth, and sometimes the truth hurts. (Another little lesson I learned growing up!)

Helicopter Parenting…Please Stop it!

*****Descending From Soapbox*****

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