Because I'm an old guy, I've seen all kinds of different theories about how parents should raise their children. From children are not to be seen or heard, then through Dr. Benjamin Spock's use of psychodynamics to understand children (hug more, punish less) and to today's "helicopter parents."
The pendulum, it is said, swings back and forth, sometimes too far before it corrects itself. And so, there's a current spate of warnings that helicopter parents are trying too hard to protect their children from everyday challenges and reversals, leaving them grossly unprepared to cope, as adults, with the real world.
The point is well made in a Chicago Tribune article, "Former Stanford dean explains why helicopter parenting is ruining a generation of children," by Emma Brown. She writes:
Julie Lythcott-Haims noticed a disturbing trend during her decade as a dean of freshmen at Stanford University. Incoming students were brilliant and accomplished and virtually flawless, on paper. But with each year, more of them seemed incapable of taking care of themselves.
At the same time, parents were becoming more and more involved in their children's lives. They talked to their children multiple times a day and swooped in to personally intervene anytime something difficult happened.
From her position at one of the world's most prestigious schools, Lythcott-Haims came to believe that mothers and fathers in affluent communities have been hobbling their children by trying so hard to make sure they succeed, and by working so diligently to protect them from disappointment and failure and hardship.
Such "overhelping" might assist children in developing impressive resumes for college admission. But it also robs them of the chance to learn who they are, what they love and how to navigate the world, Lythcott-Haims argues in her book "How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success."
As a parent and a grandparent, I think that the toughest job is seeing your child hurt, for any reason. We're blessed (and cursed) by nature with an instinct to protect our children, at all costs. As Lythcott-Haims said:
Our job as a parent is to put ourselves out of a job. We need to know that our children have the wherewithal to get up in the morning and take care of themselves.
Besides, it's hard enough to get up in the morning and take care of ourselves.
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