“How to begin to educate a child. First rule: leave him alone. Second rule: leave him alone. Third rule: leave him alone. That is the whole beginning.” – D.H. Lawrence
There is a new term in parenting. It is called helicopter parents. Never heard the term helicopter parents before? Here is the definition.
“They (parents) hover over their children and make a lot of noise rescuing when difficulty arrises.” – Psychology Today
Before I begin my rant about helicopter parents, I will admit something to you. I used to be one. Yes, I am a hypocrite. I used to be one of those annoying parents who felt the needs of my child far surpassed the needs of anyone elses. I was too involved, overprotective and downright difficult. I am proud to say I am no longer this way…well, most of the time.
I consider myself to be a professional parent, whatever that means. In my parenting career I have advocated for my children. I can growl loud if someone does not help me to meet my child’s needs.
Advocating for your child is a very admirable trait for a parent to have. The truth is, if you do not advocate for your child, no one else will. But today’s helicopter parents might be taking advocacy a bit too far.
While researching for this blog, I had difficulty finding research that supported my idea that being over involved in parenting is a bad thing. The reality is, being too involved is far better than being not involved. Over and over, the research indicates a child will suffer the most academically, socially and emotionally if their parents are not involved.
So why am a writing this blog? The reason is, because, overinvolved helicopter parents are invading my space. It is one thing to look out for your child’s best interest. It is another to decide that your way of parenting is the best way for other kids. This idea is becoming more and more common, especially in schools.
In recent years, I have noticed more and more parents getting involved with school curriculum and policy. Overinvolved parents have made it a goal to change things they do not like about their child’s school.
Parental involvement is an important part of what makes a school great. I, myself, have been very involved with my children’s education for years. But when it comes to running a school and chosing curriculum, I like to leave it to professionals. Although I do have experience in running a preschool, I do not have experience with elementary, middle school or highschool.
It used to be parents would volunteer at the school as a way to support the teachers. They would read to the children, make copies or help on field trips. But today, this type of involvement is becoming secondary to advocating changes in school policy. Many parents, most of which do not have teaching experience, are giving suggestions for school improvements.
This would be fine, except some parents are not happy if the suggestions are not responded to. They will not take no for an answer. There is increasing pressure on behalf of schools to listen to overinvolved parents. Many parents have a specific agenda and will not stop until policy has been changed.
The reason this is upsetting is because of the effect it has on children and teachers. Parents are not with their child at school. They are not supposed to be. At some point parents must trust other people to care and educate their child, without interference. When the parent is overinvolved, it sends a clear message to the child and teacher, that they do not trust they can do their job. It makes the work they must do much harder.
Children must learn to cope with the hardships of life. Learning to cope with adversity is a needed skill to be successful as adults. Sometimes other children will not like them. Sometimes their teachers will be lousy. And sometimes they will not get their way, no matter how much they complain. This lesson is a good one for all of us.
Maybe it’s time for helicopter parents to shut down their engine and come in for a landing.