And is that a good or bad thing?
When’s the last time you were at a penny carnival? Or maybe someplace like Science World?
Did you happen to notice anything about the other families, in particular the parents?
Is it just me, or does it seem like there’s no middle ground between smothering your kid and raising feral humans without any guidelines whatsoever?
Granted, between the line-ups, crowds, sugar consumption and sensory overload, maybe it’s not the best place to make generalizations about parenting behaviour, but, well, it’s what I do.
Parents are parents. We want the best for our kids. We want them to be safe, be smart and be self-sufficient. But is hovering over them at every opportunity truly the answer? And is standing back hands-off any better?
Being involved isn’t a bad thing, but . . .
We all know helicopter parents – those people at every recreation class or field trip showing their child how to ‘do it right.’ “No Johnny, this is the way you hold a marimba mallet.” (Who am I kidding? Nobody names their kids Johnny anymore. But I digress.)
Helicopter parents are there hovering around being overly involved in all aspects of their kids’ lives, buttering their bread, brushing their teeth, doing their homework. Sure, they may have children who have excellent gum health, but those same kids might not be able to tie their own shoes, make decisions or have any sense of independence.
If you’re forever being told this is the proper way to do something, maybe you’ll start believing that you do everything wrong. However well meaning, instead of teaching proper form, perhaps overparenting fosters anxiety or a lack of confidence.
And then there are the tiger moms expecting excellence and obedience every step of the way. Talk about pressure! I mean, the marimbas never sounded better, but at the end of the day does that really matter if your kid starts to resent the damn things?
Meanwhile, at the other end of the playground . . .
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should abandon all attempts of teaching and discipline, and let the cards fall where they may. We don’t want Johnny running around using that marimba mallet to crack other kids on the head and see what kind of other interesting sounds they can make.
Sure, trial and error’s a great teacher, but maybe not when it comes to lawnmowers, sewing machines, pretty much anything with a motor and a blade.
And you don’t want to be known as “that parent,” the one that lets the six-year-old ride helmetless and alone to the store to buy your cigarettes. (Though, I seemed to have turned out okay, if a little bitter…)
Frankly, there are parts of the world that are dangerous, so discipline and direct supervision are often necessary. After all, who wants to be around an adult who never really had to follow any rules as a kid? (Mr. and Mrs. Trump, I’m looking at you.)
So, what’s it going to be?
When it comes to parenting styles, there’s pros and cons for all approaches. (Not to mention people happy to share their opinions on them all!) So, who’s to say what’s best for you and your kid.
All I know is that it’s important to be around to provide love and set boundaries. But just as importantly, you need to let your kids have the freedom to experience things by themselves and learn on their own.
In a world of tigers, helicopters, and hands-offers be a friend, but always be a parent first.