Stop Being A Helicopter Parent
We have helicoptered our kids into wusses. I know what you are going to say. Ouch, that is very harsh. However, that is the truth as to what is going on in today’s world. I know this will be a controversial read for some people and probably upset them. We have a growing problem that needs to be talked about. Our kids have become super dependent on their parents. When kids are in a tough situation, they become very fragile, and are unable to handle or cope with the situation. Our kids have become entitled, thinking they can do no wrong or should have won. We need to learn to let our kids fail and fall down on their faces more. I as much as any parent do not want to see my child fail. It hurts us. But it really hurts our children more if we do not let them fail and give them the Eighth Place Trophy or spend another $20.00 at the carnival to ensure they do not go home empty handed.
Think about these real-life scenarios. How many meltdowns does your child have at doing basic homework? How many times do they cry or throw a temper tantrum when they do not get their way? I hear it all the time. Sure, it is going to happen. Kids are kids. The rate that I see these things occurring is alarming though. And if you are working somewhere, you see it at your place of employment. We all say these kids coming in today do not have any standards. They do not have any drive. Well, I hate to break it to you, but we have created this mess!
I feel like we as parents are always commiserating and acknowledging our frustrations. It has to be the full moon out there right? It’s the stuff they put in the food! It’s a different time. These kids today are bombarded with so many things. That stupid phone, they are always on their phones! While some of these things are true, we cannot use them as excuses. It’s easy for parents to do that. Scotch tape the problem instead of attacking the real issues. I am as guilty as anyone and will admit that. I get very busy working on the weekends, and it is easy to give the kids devices. I get it. We must stop the madness. It is a disservice to our kids and how they will be unprepared to handle basic things in life.
When I watched my kids on two separate occasions experiencing failure, it was tough. It was tough to not want to give in. Our daughter getting upset at not winning at the claw machine. It was very tempting to give her more money to spend. I was close. My hand was in my pocket. But I resisted the temptation. You might say its just a freaking claw machine, and who cares. But there are lessons there. You do not always win at every game.
My wife and I watched a great experience for our son at his Tae Kwon Do class. He was doing well and would have earned a full stripe for completing a technique. He nailed the technique but missed some small things. He started to cry and wanted to quit. His instructor handled it so well. Both of us felt bad for him as he practices every day. As parents, our first temptation is to give in and want to know why it wasn’t given to him. It unfolded as a great lesson for him. He made some mistakes, and we discussed it with him. We didn’t give in to his talk of quitting and commiserating with him. My wife had a great point. Let him think it through and don’t coddle him! So we didn’t coddle. We let him think it through and within a few hours, he was practicing again!
So Why Are Kids Struggling So Much?
Parent’s Own Confidence
I think it really starts with us as parents. I coach many parents and I see one common theme. The parents themselves do not believe they are enough. And this is one of our greatest fears as humans. We do not believe we are enough, so no one will really love or care about us. We wrestle with the thought that we are not good parents when in fact we really are great parents. Here is a test for you. What do you do when you see another child act out? I am willing to bet your answer was you silently say to yourself that the parent screwed up and I am glad I am not like that. That is our insecurity coming out. I am sure the answer to that question is most likely all the time or most of the time. We lower our own standards and expectations. Instead of experiencing life, we let life come at us and just go through the motions.
We are teaching our kids that everyone is a winner and there is no losing or failure. We are telling them they can be anything they want. I call it over positive parenting. We care, and we do not want to see our kids get hurt. Kids then grow up and we have a whole generation of young adults that feel entitled. When a young adult fails, or things do not go their way, they get depressed and do not know how to deal with things. It’s a wonder why statistics show that over 65% of people are in some way not satisfied in their job.
How Can We Fix This?
It is not an easy fix. Things like this will not change overnight. They will take time and patience. There are several key things we can do to ensure the helicopter in us lets go.
Our kids are not learning how to do things on their own. We must get back to letting our kids learn from their mistakes. We are helping them complete the assignments, and not helping them develop their skills. Instead of telling them what to do or write, why not ask them questions to get them thinking? We must be more aware and in tune with what we are doing with our kids. We are all busy running in many directions. I get that. We must become more aware of helping them develop their skills than just getting an assignment or project done.
There are two sides to the expectation coin. On one hand, we have lowered our expectations of people. Just look at the current political climate. We do not expect much from people. We even make excuses up when people do a bad job at work! That’s crazy. On the second hand, we have outrageous expectations that do not fit. I run on the hand of sometimes having unrealistic expectations. I want my kids to do well because I struggled with confidence and always being picked last when I was younger. I realize that I am not my kids, and I cannot put my map and view of the world on them. We can influence our kids and teach them, but we cannot put our own expectations on them. We should expect them to do the very best they can.
Share Your Stories
We all have plenty of stories of failures. And we should share these stories with our kids to help them see how we handled disappointments. I was always the last person picked on every team or every activity. It impacted me greatly for a long time. It sucked. I never let that define me. I use it as an educational tool when I speak to students about failures! We are not sharing enough stories of failure and rejection with our kids.
Spending More Time With Them
Both parents are working longer and harder than ever before. I struggle with this one. I work long hours. And my kids have told me to put my phone down! When I go on social media though, I see people spending hours in a dialog on what’s happening in the latest episode of whatever popular show they watched. We must spend more quality time with our kids. Our attention is getting pulled in many directions. We must realize this and work hard at spending the time that is needed with our kids.
Get Them Help
When you notice they are lacking a skill, go get them some help. We purchased a Tae Kwon Do video and even found YouTube videos for our son to help practice. YouTube is a great resource. I always tell people to Google it! Information is out there in abundance. There are also real learning issues that kids deal with. We need to pay close attention and get them help if they are experiencing learning difficulties. This is critical early on in a child’s life.
We must learn to let them fail. This is one of the most challenging things as a parent. We do not want our kids to experience pain or defeat. It’s not going to be easy, but you must understand that the best success comes from failure and learning from that failure. How did you learn to ride a bike? You got on the bike. You fell off the bike. You got back on, and eventually you were riding the bike like a pro! I wanted to jump up and help my son at his Tae Kwon Do class. I stopped, took a deep breath and realized that I had to let go and let him fail. Be there to support them and give them that huge hug. Tell them that they will learn from this and succeed. You too must take deep breaths, let go, and trust that your child will be fine and be much better for the experience of failure than being helicoptered in life. You are a great parent, and its time you started to believe it and put the action in motion!