Those Who Don't Overparent Must Cope With Self-Sufficient Children
In our September issue, we broach the subject of parenting style. Are you a helicopter parent? Are you a free-range parent? Maybe your parenting style falls somewhere in between? And while the article touches on the negative effects each style in its purest forms can have on the child, a recent NPR Q & A delves deeper into how overparenting — helicopter parenting, if you will — robs children of the ability to successfully navigate the world on their own. The article provides perspective from two experts, both of whom are parents and also educators.
One of the rationalizations brought up in the article was the parent’s concern that if she did not help her child with a science project, for example, then the child might not be able to achieve the A grade that was now more difficult to attain with higher standards in place. This is most likely the parent who completes the college applications, including penning the essays, for her child, as well.
When I read about — and witness, as I’ve seen many throughout my children’s education — parents such as these, I wonder where they carve out the time to live their children’s lives for them? One of the mom-isms most likely to be quoted by my boys to my future grandchildren is, “I already successfully completed that grade. I’m done with my schoolwork. That’s your schoolwork. You do it and come to me if you have any questions.”
Meanwhile, I continued folding laundry, paying bills, running a little brother to ball practice or trying to find that last can of tuna I knew we hadn’t used yet, because without it I had no idea what I was going to make for supper.
My boys’ science projects were not as pretty as some of their friends’ projects. But it was obvious — painfully at times — that my children did their own work. Yes, they asked for help when they were not sure what a particular question meant or if they had used a word correctly. But other than knowing when to ask for help, which is a great attribute to have in their toolboxes for adulthood, they grew to become rather self-sufficient.
I am well aware that self-sufficiency in children can have its downfalls. When they do not need their parents to manage and complete work for them, time spent together could potentially be diminished. Self-sufficient children do not call or text their parents as much. And they do occasionally emerge wearing a pink shirt that was white before it was washed with a red sweater.
Dealing with self-sufficient children can be difficult. But there are steps you can take to cope. Catch up on your reading list. Follow some of your own dreams. Explore the world around you. Develop adult friendships outside the traveling soccer teams and school band parent organizations. Oh, and be sure to enjoy the vibrant, interesting people into which your children grow.