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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Caution! Helicopters Ahead!

Let me begin this tirade by saying that I am
FULLY AWARE that I am not a perfect parent.
I am far, far from a perfect parent.

Now that we've got that covered,
I'm on my soapbox today about HELICOPTER PARENTS.

Oh. My. God.

I can hardly wait for the pendulum to swing
back to somewhere near normal.

I'm not even talking about parents freaking out
about germs and safety issues,
although I could write several posts about that alone.
No, I am talking about parents getting so enmeshed in their kids' lives
that these kids are missing chances to learn valuable skills.

In one instance, a local mom recently called me.
Apparently her son and my son had had a mild disagreement
and he was upset about it.
I had heard nothing about it so I told her I would check with my son
about the situation and thanked her for calling.

Speaking to my child,
there was some confusion on his part about what the issue even WAS.
We ferreted out where there might have been a misunderstanding
and I asked him to apologize the next day at school and then move on.

Moving on is proving to be far more difficult than I had thought.

For two days now, this mom and I have had further discussions
about the incident, except that there was not even an incident worth speaking of.
I don't see why we can't just let it go.
If the boys choose to be standoffish with each other for a while,
so what?
They will work things through in their own time
and our getting involved and making a big thing out of it
isn't going to help one bit.

In another case,
my son and his friends have a very difficult Social Studies teacher.
This situation has led to my son having his first C ever
on a report card.
He was crushed.

However, we discussed what he can do to work with this teacher:
clarify assignments, read from the textbook each night and take notes
since she tests things she doesn't cover in class etc.
While this teacher should do a better job, I also know
that middle school is a great time to learn how to deal with poor teachers
and to learn how to step up your own efforts and make up for their flaws.

A C in middle school won't end the world.

This other parent is taking this much harder
and has called me several times to discuss it
and what she should do etc.
Should she pull her daughter from the class?

I don't know..
I don't think I am an uninvolved or uncaring parent.
It's not that I don't CARE that these things are happening.
But I also don't want to go making everything right for my child all the time,
easing every struggle he might have to face by taking his problems
and making them my own,
and solving them instead of gently guiding him into finding the solutions on his own.

In the long run,
our overeagerness to help our kids
will handicap them later in life.

I worry about this upcoming generation of kids
but maybe I should be worrying more about their parents.


Linda said...

Thank you for being reasonable about things that your kids need to experience!! Keep up the hard work!!

dawson47707 said...

Your experiences are, unfortunately, very common.
We've been disengaging ourselves from the manipulative efforts of helicopter parents for years.
They not only want to butt in to "smooth the way" for their kids when they should be letting the kids work it out on their own, but they want to co-opt us into their battles!
There is hope, Leeann: both our children, as they got older, had definite ideas of whether they wanted us to intervene or not -- and almost always chose NOT. Very few situations actually called for parental involvement in the end.

Suzette said...

Hey girl,
You are doing great! What are these parents going to do (I think to myself)when their kid is in college? Talk to the professor?
oh brother!
I AGREE with you that this is a learning opportunity and 6th grade is full of those, I might add. Do remind him that 7th grade is much better:)

jen@odbt said...

I bet the two boys are over it and don't even care anymore. Parenting is tough - there's a part of me that wants to protect them from the teasing, being left out and bullying that I experienced growing up but I don't remember my parents butting in so maybe it was for the better. I like your style ... it is so important for them to learn to make good choices and also be responsible for any choices they make.

Richard Lewis said...

So much of it is about weighing the situation at hand and exercising common sense. Unfortunately, many people fail to do either, or both.