I am a dad. I have two kids — Bethany and Jonathan. I love them and would do anything for them… as normal parents would. Over the last few years, however, I wonder if our parenting styles from the last three decades have done some unwitting damage to kids today. We’ve worked harder at preparing the path for the child — instead of the child for the path.
Does everyone raising iY kids fit this description? Of course not — though what I see is too common for comfort. I’m convinced that we who lead young people today must correct some of the damage that has been done. Over the next few days, I’ll summarize some thoughts I include in a chapter of my new book, Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future. See if you’ve noticed what I’ve noticed about these parenting styles.
These are the parents I’m sure you’ve read about — the ones who hover over their kids, making sure they get every imaginable advantage and are protected from every imaginable danger. This kind of parent has gotten a lot of press in the past decade due to its recent prevalence.
These hovering “helicopters” can be controlling and obsessive in their efforts to ensure everything goes well for their children, and that no negative incident affects their self-esteem or their prospects. They find it difficult to trust that their child can grow without their connections and control. So they call every day during school; some even accompany their child to college and have a hard time leaving. Hundreds of universities now offer orientation seminars for these helicopter parents, trying to help them cut the apron strings and go home.
The Problem: Hovering helicopter parents don’t allow their kids the privilege of learning to fail and persevere. They prefer to protect their child instead of prepare their child for life.
The Issue: It is very possible parents and teachers can become helicopters because they possess a controlling spirit. Adults who struggle with feeling out of control or who find it difficult to trust others to deal with items they hold precious, tend to be hovering and micromanaging in style. They mean well, but they feel it is up to them to make sure life turns out well for the kids. These adults, quite frankly, must learn to trust the process. Control is a myth, and the sooner we acknowledge that fact, the more effective we’ll be in leading the next generation. As Frank A. Clark aptly put it, “The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.”
Tomorrow, I will reveal another parenting style that has stunted kids’ growth.