Monday, August 6, 2012

Helicopter Parents

Being an educator that has worked in suburban public schools for my entire 38 years, it is interesting to have dealt with overbearing, intensive parents. Ending my career as a school superintendent showed me the lengths and stress these type of parents bring to covering for their children and hoping for the best.

As I am presently retired, I cannot help seeing these "helicopter parents" still hovering in my daydreams, and wondering how their children are turning out after all of the grief they gave to so many well-intentioned, and effective teachers.

On Sunday, August 5, 2012, an interesting article in the NYTimes discussed this very phenomenon.
Levine, M. (August 5, 2012). Raising Successful Children. New York Times,

"The central task of growing up is to develop a sense of self that is autonomous, confident and generally in accord with reality. If you treat your walking toddler as if she can’t walk, you diminish her confidence and distort reality. Ditto nightly “reviews” of homework, repetitive phone calls to “just check if you’re O.K.” and “editing” (read: writing) your child’s college application essay.

Continued, unnecessary intervention makes your child feel bad about himself (if he’s young) or angry at you (if he’s a teenager)."

I will never forget a young girl that fit the description of an over-achieving student that rose to be ranked valedictorian of her class drop out 3 days before graduation. Her reason, to get back at her parents for pushing her so hard.

As the author of the article states: "A loving parent is warm, willing to set limits and unwilling to breach a child’s psychological boundaries by invoking shame or guilt. Parents must acknowledge their own anxiety. Your job is to know your child well enough to make a good call about whether he can manage a particular situation. Will you stay up worrying? Probably, but the child’s job is to grow, yours is to control your anxiety so it doesn’t get in the way of his reasonable moves toward autonomy."

Here's hoping that parents will accept their children for who they are.