What an interesting new addition to modern phraseology: “helicopter parenting.” I am going to assume that most of us have heard this enough to find out what it dennotes, and to then shake our heads as educators over how prevalent we know the phenomenon of parents “hanging” over their children has become. And it is a big problem on many levels. I was sent to thinking about it by a couple of recent Boston Globe articles, “Helicopter Parents try to hard...” and “Case of the hovering parent…”
The Problem: Parents have teflon apron strings that they refuse to ever cut these days. The fact that the problem is prevalent enough to spur a phrase for it (“helicopter parent”) indicates that it is wide spread and disconcerting to many.
- Lack of Trust – parents find it difficult to trust in the modern society that is so disenfranchised and “community-less.” We just can’t trust strangers with our kids, even our older kids.
- Lack of True Education – this is the notion that I know my kid just does not have the tools to deal with life. The educational system has not prepared him for life so I feel I have to “hover” over him protectively. There is a tear running down my cheek figuratively about this cause.
- Vicarious youth – I see this a lot, parents wanting to relive their youth out in their child, especially if they can make the “second time through” a better one. “I want my kid to have a better prom than I had.”
- “It should all be good.” This mistaken notion is rampant in parents today, which believes no child should ever feel pain. Pain free youth results in a very painful and shocking adulthood. I am not advocating some violent pendulum swing to a Dickensonian-23-hours-a-day-in-the-factory-sweating-bullets type of childhood, but I do believe that suffering through some childhood pain prepares one for life in these Shadowlands.
One possible solution: As I have thought about the above and the article mentioned, I could not help but wonder if the very thing many of us are trying to accomplish in our “classical” schools is the very remedy needed here. Just yesterday some teachers and I were discussing the need for “academic independence” and for conducting the discipline and training of our students in such a way as to cultivate life long habits. Focusing on habits and character will go a long way in severing the apron strings. A major concern of course is getting all of us to see the problem, understand some of the causes and effects, and then to embrace this solution. May God bless those who are seeking such ends.