Friday, February 15, 2008

Helicopter Parents


I was surfing one of my favourite sites last night, that is, collegeconfidential.com which I have already referred to in an earlier post and I found an interesting discussion on helicopter parents.

The term is used to describe parents who hover, like a helicopter, over their kids. They are inclined to do it all for their children and run the risk of failing to allow them to learn to make their own decisions and accept the consequences of their actions. Many of us find it hard to step back when our children complain about teachers, coaches or counselors and before you know it we are on the phone or email airing our feelings and trying to make things right for our children. If we were to stop sometimes and ask the children themselves we could very well learn that they just want someone to listen to them vent. They don’t always want us to do anything but listen and perhaps sympathize. Sometimes they may even ask for and follow our advice.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is in no way advocating a hands-off approach to child rearing but as in so many things, it is necessary to strike a balance. Indeed when we see the horror stories like the recent shootings at Northern Illinois University (NIU) and Virginia Tech, we feel justified in keeping in touch with our kids via phone, email, IM and wearing our protective hat. But that is just it, we only need to wear a hat not a full suit of armor in which to smother our children.

Some of us feel that when we were kids our environment was a lot less dangerous and the prudence we show today was not so crucial back then. While that may be true we need to wear our protective hat in a sensible way by teaching our kids to be responsible for their lives, by giving them chores, letting them get involved in a activities outside the home, making decisions about their courses at school and yes dispensing punishment and/or allowing them to be penalized for their irresponsible actions.

This reminds me to give you a heads up on a blog for parents who are considering taking their kids to daycare or who want to go into their own business of providing daycare (See post below). The blog, daycaresdish.com discusses a range of topics from how to set up a contract for daycare, what to look for when visiting potential daycare to the pros and cons of different types of daycare centres. So check it out.

Before you go, take the quiz referred to on collegeconfidential to see if you are a helicopter parent. This one is linked to the college application process.

Do you search college websites for your child? YES or NO
Do you have a strong influence over the courses your child takes? YES or NO
Do you play the lead role in planning your child's activities? YES or NO
Are you planning to prepare your child for campus interviews? YES or NO
Do you plan on directly contacting faculty or coaches? YES or NO
Do you review the publications colleges send to your child? YES or NO
Are you planning to write your child's application essays? YES or NO
Do you meet with the high school counselor without your child present? YES or NO
Have you helped your child find a job? YES or NO

If you answered YES to more than half of these questions … you are hovering and may jeopardize your child from growing into a self-sufficient adult.

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