September 29, 2011

Helicopter Parents

Some parents think love means rotating their lives around their children. They are helicopter parents. They hover over and rescue their children whenever trouble arises. They’re forever running lunches and permission slips and homework assignments to school; they’re always pulling their children out of jams; not a day goes by when they’re not protecting little junior from something – usually from a learning experience the child needs or deserves. As soon as their children send up an SOS flare, helicopter parents, who are hovering nearby, swoop in and shield the children from teachers, playmates, and other elements that appear hostile.

While today these “loving” parents may feel they are easing their children’s path into adulthood, tomorrow the same children will be leaving home and wasting the first eighteen months of their adult life, flunking out of college or meandering about “getting their heads together.” Such children are unequipped for the challenges of life. Their learning opportunities were stolen from them in the name of love.

The irony is that helicopter parents are often viewed by others as model parents. They feel uncomfortable imposing consequences. When they see their children hurting, they hurt too. So they bail them out.

But the real world does not run on the bail-out principle. Traffic tickets, overdue bills, irresponsible people, crippling diseases, taxes – these and other normal events of adult life usually do not disappear because a loving benefactor bails us out. Helicopter parents fail to prepare their kids to meet that kind of world.

Hat Tip: Parenting With Love And Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility

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