We’re infantilizing our kids into incompetence.~Lenore Skenazy
One of my goals as a mom (besides supporting my athletically gifted
meal-ticket son, and ridding him of Social Anxiety) is finding the parenting middle-ground.
What I’m seeking is much less neurotic than the Stealth Fighter Parents, and nowhere close to the neglectful, Invisible Parents I’ve too often seen within the hybrid field of mental health and education.
I want the responsible, relaxed, and skinned-knee-no-problem model. Maybe you can advise me in the comments section ;).
Let’s start with the Helicopter parents (born post 1964 with more disposable income, time, and resources), who can’t get out the door and into the Volvo without the Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, macrobiotic fruit rolls, and MD Moms Babysafe Sunscreen Towelettes SPF 30. They hover over their child’s every activity with the laser focus and determination of a fighter pilot zeroing in on that dual-immersion Montessori teaching Mandarin, so Madison and Caleb can compete in the global market.
Meanwhile, across town is the teen-as-mother type with all her baby daddy woes who struggles to find time to practice the alphabet with Junior because she’s so wrapped up with the drama overflowing in her inner-city neighborhood. She blames daughter Princess for her lost adolescence and smirks when the 1st grade teacher warns of mean girl behavior in the classroom.
Yes, there’s plenty of children raised in-between the stark and the sparkle. But not enough. I would love to see the cell-phone-as-umbilical-cord wielders step up and be part of the solution.
“I will not be assigning much in the way of writing homework this year. I’m not interested in your writing abilities,” said my son’s 4th grade teacher at Open House this past fall.
And not to be passive-aggressive, but I did spy the parenting cohort who advocated for cutting recess time in favor of more test-prep, squirm a bit.
What’s wrong with a little dirt under the fingernails and drinking non-filtered water from the fountains of public schools and the local Parks and Recreation?
Since when did playtime become a bad thing?
“If you look at what produces learning and memory and well-being in life, play is as fundamental as any other aspect,” says Dr. Stuart Brown, a psychiatrist and the founder of the National Institute for Play.
Across town the inner-city youth play too often, and often, too dangerously. Lack of adult supervision is a factor.
But just as you don’t have tabs on your kids’ whereabouts when you’re inside watching Real Wives,’ neither do you see that which is directly in front of your nose. What if there was less hovering and more visibility?
I think it’s about finding perspective and letting go of the anxiety that drives adults to hire tutors to correct their five-year old’s “scissor-holding deficiency,” when many poor kids can’t grip a pencil.
Personally and professionally, I find it depressing to invest so much effort making sure your kid reaches state benchmarks when he has yet to learn how to tolerate boredom, or to read others’ social cues. Johnny will have to problem solve even if he makes it into Yale Law School in fifteen years.
I’m not bashing the intentions of the Helicopters, who may very well care about, and feel sadness for the less fortunate.
But action is so much more powerful than pity.
And there’s plenty of folks who worry that over-protectiveness leads to underdeveloped youth.
You may breathe a sigh of relief because Ava is spared the hardships of the Juniors and the Princess’ of this world. And while she will not mow lawns or scrub toilets for a living, she just may end up in my office for help with panic disorder because she grew up believing that success is a given, opportunities are a birthright, and parents provide endless protection.
There’s nothing wrong with a little hovering. And no, it’s not your fault that some adults choose not to parent. But I guarantee your child-rearing anxiety would decrease with some perspective and exposure outside of your comfort zone.
We’d all breathe easier if the wealth, time, and resources were spread more evenly.
Especially the kids.
To all my Helicopters buzzing overhead, please consider the following:
- Volunteer your time
- Help out a kindergarten class by offering to tutor the struggling learners with sight words
- Contact the librarian of the public school in your area and drop off some books
- Allow your kid to fail for a change
- Teach her that mistakes are a part of life and the world doesn’t end because she got a C
- Let them eat cake from a box
What about YOU?
Should the Helicopters help out in the Hood? Why or Why not?
Your input is important–you never know who you could help by contributing. Please leave comments in the box below.
Thanks for stopping by,