Helicopter parents…..they’re everywhere. I see it in stores, with my students, my neighbors, etc. I understand the need to keep our children safe. It is a scary world. However, I think things are getting out of hand, and we are raising wimps. When I was growing up, it was nothing to be home alone during the day, even if I had to stay home from school if I didn’t feel well. Those days are no more. Parents would be turned in for child neglect today. During the summer, I was out on my bike, or with my friends, or at the swimming pool…..until it was time to come home for dinner. And yet, my parents were strict, and a bit overprotective compared to my friends’ parents. I learned communication skills, problem solving skills, and had to take responsibility for my actions.
But today’s parents frustrate me. Last night, I was watching a youth basketball game that my husband was refereeing. One mother was driving me insane. She was one of those loud moms…..you know the type. She only cheered for her child. She coached him from the stands. In fact, during time outs, before her child went to the huddle with the rest of the team, he came to her on the opposite side of the gym, to be coached by her before joining his teammates and coach. That was disrespectful to his coach and teammates. She was pushy and controlling. Another parent did something that my son told me never to do as a parent. Her son got hurt, taking a fall on the court. Now, we are talking about an 11 or 12 year old. He was not little. As soon as he fell, his mother and two other women went running onto the court to check on him. I remember my son telling me when he was about 7 or 8, that it didn’t matter if his arm, leg, or head was falling off….I was NOT to come onto the court, or the football, baseball, or soccer field. He assured me that he was not a baby, and I was not to embarrass him that way. There were many times I sat on the sidelines, biting my nails, as my child was sprawled out on the ground, being attended to by his coaches. I waited for the coach to motion to me if I was needed (I never was). It was excruciating at times, but I knew I could not be one of “those” moms, babying my child. I will never forget the time he took a baseball to the face! If I had run onto the court as that lady had done, my son would STILL be mad at me, and he’s now 25. By the way, this lady’s son was fine. He was able to get up and finish the game.
I’m really hoping the pendulum starts swinging back the other direction on this issue. If not completely, at least a little, so we can let our kids learn for themselves, learn from their mistakes, figure things out, develop better problem solving and social skills. Doing everything for our kids and hovering is only going to make their lives more difficult in the long run. Colleges and universities are already seeing the results of helicopter parenting, and it hasn’t been positive. Parents telling teachers how to teach, coaches how to coach, protecting their child from every bug bite and skinned knee are not helping their child. Spend time with your child, but teach them to figure things out on their own, and develop life long skills for exploration, communication, problem solving, etc. As someone who has raised three children, trust me. It will be ok. Kids will make mistakes, but so did we. The world will keep turning, life will go on if you aren’t hovering over every detail in your child’s life. I know we need to be hands on, and proactive, but that is different than being a helicopter parent.
And by the way, my son turned out ok…..he’s serving our country in the Navy now. My worry for him is much bigger now than when he was playing sports as a child, and I still can’t run out and protect him with every little problem. I’m glad he survived those bumps and bruises and cuts and scrapes (and the baseball to the face). I’m quite proud of his bravery and dedication to his country….so I guess I did something right.