Saturday, March 31, 2012

Helicopter, Lawnmower, or Scooter Parent. Which one are you?

Recently, I was pondering helicopter parents.  If you have never heard the term helicopter parent it is a term that is used to describe a parent who constantly hovers around their child anticipating that they will be needed.  These types of parents interfere constantly.  Behaviors can range from complaining about a perceived injustice (possibly a poor grade that their child earned but that they feel the child should have not gotten); to becoming angry that their child is not a starter on a sports team; or writing reports and papers for your child.  Sometimes parents need to step in when something may be happening that is unfair, but I’m not talking about those times. I’m talking about those individuals who engage in over parenting to the point that they are not protecting, but actually hurting their child’s development into adulthood. Over parenting to the extreme.

Usually this type of over parenting behavior does stop after the child leaves the nest. At the college level the term applied is Lawnmower Parent. The type of behavior seen at the college level is one where the parent clears any or all obstacles to make life easier for their child. Whether it is to wake them up in the morning to get to classes, get a job, pay bills… (Would you believe it?) Instead of college age students making decisions on their own the parents do it. (If your 18 year old can’t get themselves dressed and out the door in time that is their own darn fault!)

Does it stop after college? (Nope.)  Recently I watched a news report (with my mouth open and on the floor) that reported how hiring companies now have to deal with parents negotiating their adult child’s health insurance, as well as contract and salary negotiations.  (Really?)  I would have been embarrassed if my parents ever had called a future employer, and frankly if I was a future employer and mom and dad called to discuss and negotiate with me (on behalf of their adult child) I would retract my job offer immediately. This type of behavior demonstrates to me lack of life skills development. If a parent interferes at this level then they have been interfering forever.

One parent interviewed explained that they were doing only the things that they wished they had been told about when they were young.  I think they miss the point. If your child needs your life’s wisdom then offer it, but let your adult child make the decision and gain knowledge and experience from the act. Don’t do it for them! 

I think the main job a parent has is to prepare your child for adulthood and life. You must be there to provide love and guidance, give them opportunities to gain knowledge and learn, and to grow into competent happy adults. Constantly hovering about, making things easy, or doing it for them when they could do it themselves does the child a disservice. 

I would suggest that is you see yourself over parenting you try to slow down. My suggestion would be to become what I call a scooter parent. Take things slower and as they come. Enjoy your time more with your children doing simple things like playing. This makes life enjoyable, adds value to your relationships, and takes stress and pressure off of your shoulders and your child's.  It may also improve your relationship with your spouse. (An added benefit!) 

Personally I don't understand it. My experience has been that all children grown up at different developmental rates and sooner or later get to adulthood and become successful.

(Well, I guess I need to stop lecturing you… I need to do my 25 year old's laundry, rewrite my 16 year old's English paper, ask my mom to call my employer to negotiate my next round of pay raises, and make sure my husband is building our 14 year old's science project correctly….)

1 comment:

  1. "The thing that impresses me the most about America is the way parents obey their children."
    ~King Edward VIII