Are you a helicopter parent?
There are a lot of perceived dangers in the world that weren’t there for baby boomers or even Gen X. That doesn’t mean that everything was safe for those generations; things could and did go wrong, it's just that the dangers that did exist weren't hyped quite to the extent they are today. Consequently, those generations had a lot of freedoms we would never dream of giving our own children today. The rule was that the children of that era had to be home by the time the street lights came on, and that was about it.
Things are different now. The media is filled with dangers that terrify even the most relaxed of parents. We don't want to leave our child in the car while we run in to grab some groceries, in case someone steals the car and kills the kid too. It's natural and normal to feel this way, and to protect our kids from the dangers they face—but when is it going too far?
Signs you are a helicopter parent
Helicopter parents are fairly easy to spot… and hear. They hover a couple of feet behind their child when playing at the park. They call the teacher regularly to find out how the child is doing and what else they should be doing. They make excuses for the child and take on the child’s responsibilities.
Some go to rediculous lengths, such as calling companies their adult children interviewed with to 'help' them get the job. Others are satisfied with doing their children's homework for them, following behind them two feet throughout their 'free play' time, and sorting out fights between friends through calling the mom of the friend.
No one wants to be that style of parent, but nor do we want to allow our kids to free range all over the neighborhood and hope they come back at the end of the day. Striking a balance is difficult, but here are a few tips that can help:
Let your child experience the consequences of their actions
Obviously you wouldn't let your child experience the consequences of running in front of a tractor-trailer, but unless you live in the arctic, there's no reason they can't suffer the consequences of forgetting their coat at school.
Discomfort teaches our children to be responsible for themselves, an essential skill they'll need later in life.
Teach them that failure isn't necessarily bad
If you give up too early, you may not learn what that failure had to teach you. A bad grade can teach us to be more responsible about homework, while breaking a toy can teach us not only about being more responsible with our things, but also how to fix it.
There is a delicate balance between protecting our children and stifling them. If Little Johnny comes home with a bad grade we need to skip the urge to call the teacher. If Susy has a fight with a friend calling the other mother is not going to help the situation. Following it through in every situation is how we can avoid becoming one of “those” parents.
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