I was recently forwarded this excellent article which articulates the damage of helicopter parenting. While I appreciate that parenting needed to evolve from children being totally powerless, I feel like we have swung to far the other way.
Children need their parents to be parents, not friends. It is okay to not validate their every feeling and to tell them no sometimes. I have seen parents negotiating with their toddlers about what they will and won’t do. That really is unacceptable. I am not saying parents need to be authoritarian, but to instead set limits and keep them. I have worked with more than one teenager who has told me that they couldn’t work at Starbucks, because it was beneath them. We are raising narcissistic and overly entitled children that are going to become narcissistic and overly entitled adults.
As this article talks about it also leaves these children totally unequipped to deal with the disappointments of their lives. I do not believe that not keeping score in a sports game, because some one has to lose, is teaching children anything positive. Sure we all have memories of those tough moments as kids where we were devastated about some loss or difficult moment. But what did that teach us? It taught us to deal with adversity. Our world and our lives will be filled with difficult moments. If we don’t learn how to deal with that as children, when will that happen.
Parents need to think about what characteristics they want their child to have as adults. Then think you about what creates those characteristics. Parents are so caught up right now with the guilt that gets piled on them for not spending enough time with their kids that they overcompensate. You should absolutely be there emotionally for your child. You should validate their feelings and allow them to have difficult emotions such as anger so they learn to do that. You also have to let them go and learn. That includes the bad stuff. You should protect your child, but not from life’s experiences, because that will leave them feeling unfulfilled and lost as adults. It may be one of the hardest things you do as a parent but you need to let your child be disappointed sometimes.
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