It’s a wonder my husband and I still have our children. We’ve allowed some pretty risky stunts during our parenting tenure: like the time we watched our then 8-month old baby make the steep climb from the bottom to the top of our basement stairs. It must have felt like Mt. Everest to our middle boy. But he made it. And we were there cheering every step of the climb. Yet, for every ‘calculated’ risk we’ve allowed, there are probably just as many we’ve thwarted based on our own insecurities or disbelief. How unfair for the child!
While I don’t advocate parents leading their children down dangerous paths and letting them stumble into peril, I do think some of the modern-day parenting we practice lends itself to diminishing our child’s ability to think critically and make sound decisions. And this leads to them growing into adulthood ill equipped to lead productive lives. Psychologists call them ‘Helicopter Parents.’ You know… the ones who hover intensely over every aspect of their child’s life, denying that child the chance to learn lessons, lose games and even score victories.
It seems especially critical that we give our teenagers opportunities to test the waters of adulthood. With a soon-to-be high-school senior, my husband and I will get a chance to exercise our ‘we’re raising our children to be responsible adults’ skills. For example, I’ve already determined that wherever our son lands as a college student, for the most part; will be where his efforts have taken him. For certain, I’ll be there cheering him on each step of the way; but the work should not and will not solely come from his dad and me. Our expectations are that he will insert and assert himself into every aspect of the college application and admissions process. This is easy enough to say; yet I’ve encountered many a parent who’d just as soon do it for their child—from writing scholarship essays, to scheduling campus visits. Again, how unfair for the child! Our children will have enough issues with which to deal as adults; lack of self-confidence and know-how don’t have to be among them.
Kysa Daniels is a journalist, non-profit professional and mother of three boys. For more Adventures in Parenting and parenting tips, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.