3/05/2010

The Sikorsy is landing......

Always late to the banquet, I heard a term recently that I finally had to look up.  Helicopter Parenting.  Parents who completely hover over their Princes and Princesses to ensure that absolutely no harm - real or perceived - ever mars a moment of their child's day, emotion or life.

These parents praise every moment of their child's life, can never believe that their child could be anything other than "outstanding" in every way, provide every educational opportunity to their child that they can...starting with language instruction at 2 and 3, schedule every moment of their child's day, refuse to allow the child to take any risk - keeping the child tied to them every moment through actual presence or multiple cell phones, and on and on.

I know this parent...they don't just drop off their child at a sports practice, they lobby the coach for better team placement and the like, and are in his or her ear constantly to make sure their child is #1.  They argue with the referees.  If a child is upset about ANYTHING, somebody has to pay for "rocking Johnny's little world".  That somebody is typically a Coach, Administrator, Teacher, or "anyone" other than Johnny himself. Because Johnny absolutely cannot be culpable for anything. Even minor disciplinary issues become battles with school administrations because of the scarring effects on their child and "his/her future".

These are parents who write their kids college essays.  Enter into negotiations with their child's employer for salary and benefits.  Argue with teachers because Susie got a bad grade.  Sue SAT prep sites for not getting their child a perfect score on standardized tests.  Forge letters of recommendation for private schools and colleges.

These are parents who hold outrageous "graduation" parties for Kindergarten, sixth grade, eighth grade, any grade, every grade.  They want proms for Kindergarteners.  They don't want artwork hung in hallways - that is unless their Johnny is a "gifted" artist.  If he is not...no one else can be.  Their child is the ONLY concern that they have, therefore should be the only concern that anyone who comes in contact with their child should have.  Even at the expense of other children. (Cheerleader Mom who hires a "hit" on another cheerleader who is considered "better" ring a bell anyone??)

The children of helicopter parents are pushed to perfection, cannot handle criticism of any form (and they don't have to...their parent will step in and get the person removed from any authority over their little Prince so they don't have to hear it), have little sense of responsibility, and are as fragile as Czech Crystal - just waiting for the slightest form of emotional temperature change or barometric failure to shatter. And shatter they do.  Whether it be in Elementary School, High School, College, or in the Workforce.

In fact, for all that is handed to the Prince's and Princesses, they are woefully prepared to handle the "real world".  At all.  That is unless the hovering mom or dad steps in and fights their battles - all of them - for the man/woman-child.     Because to a helicopter-parented child....life comes with a goodie bag at every turn.

I'll admit it here...we have done parenting by helicopter.  More with the cadet than with the King. We stepped in when we probably shouldn't have in several cases, and in that, we have created a monster moment or two when the Cadet was disappointed or upset about things.  He can be a royal, entitled, disrespectful and angry pain because of our past helicoptering.  And for that I take my fair share of blame (read a BIG ol' share of blame).

Yet at the start of this year, upon the realization that we were getting ready to spin him out into the world, we put the air brake on, and began to land the hovering Sikorsky.  The Cadet has faced many challenges this year without us "helping him through".   Disagreements with a teacher?  It is up to him to fix it.  Bad grading period?  No, it isn't the teacher's fault, it is your problem, and you need to figure it out.  Losses and fit throwing at wrestling?  Mom isn't sticking around to watch you be an idiot, have fun with that.  College applications?  Get working on them buddy...or you won't have any where to go next year.  How would I know what you want to be when you grow up?  It is your adulthood you are talking about, not mine.

The Sikorsky isn't completely on the ground - but he is facing a ton more challenges on his own now - and struggling to find out what will make him successful.  We have "done what we can, what we know" and the controls are now in his hands. Even if I didn't know what we were doing was "helicoptering".  (Of course, I recognized what we were creating..which is why the King is parented a little differently, facing trouble as it occurs, disappointment as it occurs, and far more "unstructured time" than the Cadet ever had).

But because of my study of this phenomena known as Helicopter Parenting (and as God is my witness), I will get that craft landed - definitely attempting to stay out of the airspace of my kids.  For their own good, and mine, from this point forward I will just simply try to guide parent them from the ground.

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