The Dangers of Helicopter Parenting
I'm 44 years old. At my age, I've seen the world change - and not for the better when it comes to parenting.
The Good Ol' Days
When I was growing up, parents drove with newborns in the front seat. They chain-smoked while holding us. They never put helmets on us when we rode our bicycles or went roller skating. On weekends, mothers kicked us kids out of the house once Saturday morning cartoons ended, with strict instructions to be home when the streetlights turned on. We got dirty. Hell, some of us even ate dirt. We picked through mud and collected worms (I didn't, but some of my friends sure did). We tripped and fell and scraped our elbows, palms, and knees on the concrete without once running home to mommy. Kids were active, and had outstanding social skills because playing video games was a privilege and not an all-day activity.
Sure, some of the things our parents did were unhealthy for us and even outright dangerous. I'm aware that parenting needed to evolve a bit. But did it have to go so far in the opposite direction? Parenting went from one extreme to the other, with our kids the ones who are suffering from this drastic shift.
Something went Terribly Wrong
These days, a staggering number of kids lack the most basic social skills. They can't function without mommy or daddy holding their hand. Teachers can't discipline students to keep order in their classes because of the 'not my kid' Helicopter Moms. Children are practically covered with bubble wrap just to ride their bike up the block...and that's if they even go outside. Today's kids are suffering from stagnation. They don't move. They sit all day at school, only to come home and sit all evening on a smartphone, tablet, or computer. I dare you to go to any neighborhood and try to find kids playing outside. Oh, you might see a handful here or there, but nothing like when we were kids. There were hordes of children running around like filthy savages laughing and playing from sunup to sundown. Now, everything is regulated. From monitored recess at school to scheduled play dates. They aren't allowed to hone their social skills because a parent is always there to clean up their mess or fix their problem. This is a gross disservice to today's youths. They can't problem solve or cope with peer rejection.
I've been in situations where parents would rather their child be confident in ignorance than be told they're wrong. This actually makes my brain hurt. I've transferred Jesse out a NY public school and moved her to a Catholic school because her teacher told us she can't correct a misspelled word in order to stoke my child's self-esteem. No. Sorry, not sorry. I'd rather my child be corrected and gain confidence from knowledge.
But this Helicopter Mom nonesence has given rise to an entire generation of entitled little a**holes.
No One Gives A Sh*T About You Outside This House
My mother gave me fantastic advice when I was a kid. One lesson, however, stood out from the rest: "Inside this house, you're loved, but no one gives a sh*t about on the other side of that door."
She was absolutely right.
Today's children are given trophies just for being on a team. They do nothing to actually earn the accolade. This rule change was a result of Helicopter Moms not wanting to see their kid 'left out'. But you know what? It's not being 'left out'. It's children learning how to strive for greatness instead of being rewarded for mediocrity.
But it goes so much deeper than just participation trophies.
Mary doesn't want to sit with Susie at lunch? Susie's mom calls the school to lodge a complaint against Mary. Next day, Mary is forced to sit with Susie. Johnny doesn't want to play with Georgie? Georgie's mom calls Johnny's mom to set up a play date so the boys "can learn to get along."
Nothing good comes from this crap. The rejected child doesn't learn how to recover and move on. The other child is forced to befriend kids they simply don't like. Would you like to be forced to be someone's friend? Of course not. So why are parents doing this to their children? It's okay not to be liked - just as it's okay not to like someone. That doesn't mean we should allow kids to be cruel. They should be taught manners and to be cordial to others - even the kids they don't like. That's a vital social skill a child carries with them throughout life.
When did the world become one giant Barney episode?
8 Basic Rules All Kids Should Learn
- When you fall down, pick yourself up. A scraped knee is not the end of the world.
- Not everyone is going to like you, and that's okay.
- You're not going to like everyone, and that's okay.
- Don't be a perpetual victim, but don't be a bully, either.
- Don't settle for mediocrity. Strive for greatness.
- Treat others the way you want to be treated.
- Don't be afraid to get dirty because you're only a kid once.
- Your mother isn't your maid. Clean your own dang mess.
Stop Being A Helicopter Mom
Look, none of us wants to see our kids hurt. It pains me when my daughters cry. But I know I can't always be there to solve their problems. The hardest lesson for me was figuring out when to step in and when to remain on the sidelines. Don't get me wrong, I'm always there at the ready should my girls need me. But some things they need to go through alone. That's the only way they'll learn how to deal with the not-so-great aspects of life.
Besides, I'm not a human hemorrhoid. I can't be up their ass forever. Some things they need to experience alone so they can evolve and grow into productive, well-adjusted adults. They can't do that if I'm always interfering.
It's about balance, and it's the toughest lesson I've had to learn.
Moms, trust me when I tell you that you owe it to your kids to take a step back. You're doing them a terrible disservice by being a Helicopter Mom. Kids are smart and they're resilient. They can handle the difficulties of childhood if only you give them the change to flex their social skills. So, go ahead and kiss that boo-boo...but send them right back out there to get dirty again. And for the love of God, stop bringing an arsenal of supplies to the park. You're making us Hot Mess Moms look bad.