By now we’ve all heard about the negative effects of “helicopter parenting” though it sure hasn’t it stopped it from happening. Probably because the driving force behind it is control and one thing is for sure: giving up control and trusting God with our kids is one of the hardest things.
But for a majority of helicopter parents the control is about doing everything in their power to ensure their kids get into the best college and the brightest future of opportunities. To secure this end-all be-all of ultimate parenting success, parents relentlessly go to bat to help their kids secure straight A’s, a spot on the most competitive teams and involved in as many resume-building, extra-curricular activities and charitable organizations, even at the expense of the family. But it doesn’t stop there.
Parents also want to control their kids’ social status because somehow, like their college acceptances and future careers, we think their popularity is a reflection on us. So if they hang out with the right people, get invited to the right parties and make the right choices than we must be “good” parents.
Really? Is that what quantifies doing a “good” job? Certainly, if we are basing it on the world’s standards.
But, what about in parenting the things that really matter – our kids’ hearts, character and love for others? What if we turned our helicopter tendencies to shaping their core, who they are on the inside, instead of trying to make them stand out on the outside?
I write this post quite simply out of sadness in thinking about a few stories I’ve heard just this week. Situations that may have gone differently if parents were more involved in this aspect of kids’ lives instead of leading them to entitlement and self-focus.
Take just these three samplings to see what I mean…
- Teenagers being asked by the teacher to read a paragraph out loud in class refused to do so because they didn’t feel like it. The same class in which they chose not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. What does this communicate to the teacher? To the other students in class, perhaps even some who have family members serving our country?
- Then there is the teen who was deleted out of a group text as a supposed joke without any friend standing up to add them back in for days. Though it may seem trivial, how is being “kicked out” of a group text any different from other types of bullying? For the ones who are still in the group – not a thought, but for the one left out – devastating.
- And there was a student feeling down after losing an election. Only the seeming rejection was intensified when only one person even reached out to her via text. Everyone else ignored it. Probably because they didn’t know what to say, but quite possibly because it didn’t happen to them so it was just a blip on their radar screen with no further care.
Things like this happen everyday, everywhere. At some point your kid is likely being hurt in this way and in other situations they may be the ones disprespecting, dismissing and ignoring. But largely these things pass, even the helicopter parents, right on by.
Unfortanetly I’m afraid the lack of concern our kids have for others is because we as helicopter parents have inadvertantly taugh them to think the world revolves around them.
Well, what if helicopter parents switched gears?
- What if we focused as much energy as we have on the external on shepherding their hearts?
- What if they understood manners to be a sign of respect to those they are with?
- What if they turned off their cell phones when they were hanging out with a friend?
- What if they were taught to extend grace instead of spreading gossip?
- What if they worked to build others up instead of doing whatever it takes to make themselves great?
How would school and community environments change? How would our kids’ self-worth and security be affected? How would relationships benefit? How better prepared for the world would they be?
Seems like they would be set up for success no matter where they go to college or what they pursue, because they would’ve learned to put others above themselves instead of only seeking things to the benefit of self.
Would love to hear your thoughts on how switching gears would change our kids and maybe change you too:)