Saturday, January 8, 2011

How about this thing called hyper-parenting

I am reading a book that talks about hyper-parenting, helicopter parents or what is known in Scandinavian countries as curling parents.  I like that term as it is easy to picture parents sweeping all of their children's problems out of the way before the child runs into them.  Some parents might think, "Why not?" or "Aren't there enough issues that our children will come in contact that it won't hurt to remove some of their roadblocks?"  Granted not all parents who are deeply invested in their child's life goes way overboard.  However much like other issues every parent looks at others and sees that they have the problem.  Here is a conversation I had with a parent a few years ago:

The parents finally called me after first calling the Dean, Provost and President of the university's office.  Their daughter was failing in one of her general education courses and the parent wanted either the daughter's grade changed or the faculty member fired.  The mom explained that when she was in college her advisor let her redo all of her assignments as many times as she wanted until she got an A in every class.  The father said that he would not donate any money to the university because of the situation.  Guess what?  The parents had never donated money before and the daughter had missed 40% of the class. 

The question becomes, how did we get to this point where we hear reports of parents going with their college graduates to job interviews and negotiating their child's salary and benefits?  It starts with how we view our children as infants and toddlers.  It is understandable to be proud parents and to want children to have a stimulating and enriched environment.  It is another to be worried about if their child might not be happy all of the time.  Children learn how to handle distress by handling distress.  Going back to what we know from theory, children need a balance of trust and mistrust (this is not a 50/50 balance but somewhere between 75/25 and 90/10.  They need autonomy but also some level of doubt.  They need their opportunity from the earliest years and all through their life to eat some dirt, to take some bumps and bruises, and to get up when they fall down.

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