I was reading this article from Slate.com on the fallout on kids whose parents are what we call “helicopter parents”(article is linked) and was startled at the desire for some parents to hijack their children’s lives. Since I have a daughter who is heading to college, we talk about the separation aspect of this move quite often, lately. For a couple of years I have felt heartless when I tell her to, “figure it out!” but I did it because I knew the day would come when she would have to.
My generation of parents, or perhaps her generation of kids, have been schedule animals. I have not wanted to feed this beast and have been sometimes teasingly harassed by peers for not putting more on my child’s plate, or not staying on top of their every school requirement. It always made me feel a little less of an over-achieving parent. I also expected them to have normal life skills, like my own mother taught all of her seven children to have. I expect them to clean their room, do their laundry (after 13) and know how to fend for themselves in the kitchen. I expect them to have good grades because I have stated often, there is absolutely no reason not to. But I have not hovered unless I have seen that I have had to; this is the promise. They really despise the hovering so it is healthy promise. I expect them to be good citizens and not just resume builders. Good citizenship will last a lifetime. I expect this partly because of their participation in a faith that requires it, but also because it is integral to a healthy society.
I cannot do any of these things for them when they leave, which they must. The onus for a good life is on them, as it was on their father and me. In the end, we have to hope for the best…cause there are too many variables out there so our job is to help fill their tool box and wrap it with a bow.
But there are great bonuses to all of this! There is independence, quick wit, less anxiety, more problem solving, and innovation. I believe in a summer that includes staring at the sky, camping, watching stars, seeking out things in the wild, kayaking, fishing, gardening and sleeping in. I believe in time spent reading for leisure, visiting with family and shutting down. All of these things are pivotal to your physical, mental and spiritual health.
But, in the end the truth of the matter is that we parents have our own lives, we shouldn’t steal our children’s.
What are your thoughts?