It’s Saturday morning and, more often than not, we have some variety of sports to go to. I always read in bed just long enough that I have to race around like Mario Andretti preparing breakfast, shooing everyone out of the house and into the swagger wagon, and screeching out of the driveway while the boys eat breakfast in the car.
When we get there, I walk briskly into the gym to watch my son play floor hockey. The musty, sweaty gym smell fills my nostrils, which acts as some sort of Pavlovian trigger. It triggers my transformation into silly, giddy, proud peacock mama. Yep, I’m that mom – I get giddy at whatever my kids do. I mean, what. ever. He scored for the other team? Awww, isn’t he cute?? But it’s not for the reason you think…
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I find a seat and watch the children practicing before the big tournament. There are four coaches on the floor giving encouragement to make better shots, blowing their whistles, and teaching stronger defense. I feel my pride bubbling up and I figure I should wipe the stupid grin off my face. But before I can, a shrill scream clobbers me right out of my reverie like a baseball gets clobbered out of the park.
“DARREN! Did you hear Coach Mike?” “DARREN!!!! He said stay on your side of the floor!”
As I’m jolted from my personal reverie I’m wondering, huh??? What’s the fuss? Did Darren try to kill somebody?
It’s not just hockey – this reverie clobbering phenomenon is everywhere. Swimming, for example: “WILLIAM!!! Put your face in the water like the coach wants you to!”
Even at the school music performance – “Psssst! EVAN! *frantic mom hand gestures* Move over to the other side where Ms. Samantha told you to stand!” “SHERRIE, you need to be quiet until it’s your turn to sing!”
I feel sorry for these children, but it’s not for the reason you might think.
What Is Helicopter Parenting?
I always thought the term helicopter parenting was used when parents were with their children and were overprotective to a fault. But helicopter parenting now extends to when children are not with their parents, but with another adult in charge and the parents are still overprotective to a fault.
Let the Holderness family break this down for you:
Why Children Need Us To Stop Helicopter Parenting
The rise of a college generation that can get straight A’s but can’t figure out how to feed themselves or deal with their roommates is staggering. And it gets worse:
A 2011 study out of the University Of Tennessee Chattanooga found kids with helicopter parents were more likely to be medicated for anxiety or depression.
A 2007 study gave 18-25-year-olds a set of criteria defining “adult-ness,” including accepting responsibility for the consequences of actions; establishing adult relationships with parents, financial independence, and having beliefs or values independent of parents. Only 16 percent felt they were adults … and their parents agreed. (cite)
Trust The Adult In Charge
One of the most important things parents can do is to trust the adult in charge.
Remember when your children were tiny and they fell and looked over at you to gauge how they should react? They still look to their parents for clues about how to respond in new or different situations. It’s how they develop the self confidence and experience to make their own decisions when they are older. So when your children see that you trust the adult in charge, they will also trust that the adult is capable of caring for them.
Teach Children That Trustworthy Adults May Be In Authority
Spending time with other adults teaches children that you are not the only authority. Life situations are fluid and different authorities are in place everywhere we go. Driving? See the rules of the road. Going to a park? See the rules. Going to school? Pay attention to the teacher’s rules. Everywhere.
Children can be, literally, left almost helpless to maneuver life’s daily tasks if they haven’t been given the chance to learn and make mistakes when they are young and the stakes are still low. Look at what can happen when your child only respects your authority and then grows up and starts to look for a job:
“Can my parents attend my job interview?” Even, “can my parents negotiate my salary?” Sounds hard to believe but employers who have embraced such parental involvement are winning the war for talent, first by securing the “best and brightest” college graduates, and then by retaining them via continuous parental involvement—in “Take Your Parents to Work Days” and other parent-oriented events. (cite)
So I feel sorry for these children, not because of what happens, but because of what they miss out on. Children miss out on the opportunity to learn that self reliance feels good and is its own reward.
Give Children Their Sense of Pride & Accomplishment
We all take pride in our accomplishments. But when we haven’t truly accomplished anything on our own, there is no sense of pride or growth. We can only look for somebody else’s validation of us.
Remember how I get giddy at whatever they do? Whether they made a goal or scored for the other team? I’m going to share a secret. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the activity they are participating in.
Here’s the thing. I’m stupid giddy excited because these are firsts; my children are achieving the milestones of independence. They are learning self reliance in an age appropriate way.
These are some of the first things that my boys are doing completely without me. They have the guidance of amazing coaches to teach them and help them practice. They’ve worked with the coaches and teachers, trusted them, and learned from them. Now is their chance to display what they’ve been learning. These are the first times that it’s not me. I can’t take any credit – it’s all my boys.
So, I’ll challenge you to let your children work with their teachers, care takers, coaches, and other leaders to reach new levels of independence and maturity. Sit on the bench, be proud, and hush! Let them soar and be proud of their own accomplishments – even if they didn’t achieve perfection. Perfection is overrated anyway.
If you choose to take my challenge, here are a few references that may help you along the way: