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May 26, 2013 / Tom Liberman

Too Much Help – Helicopter Parenting

Helicopter ParentingThere was an interesting article in the news this morning that struck a chord with my Libertarian philosophies. The basic idea is that parents who are overly involved in their children’s lives do them no favors.

The article cites one specific study and indicates that others show the same trend but also admits that when it comes to parenting there are a number of styles that offer success. I don’t have any children myself and I’m probably not the best person in the world to analyze the data but I can, at least, speak from having worked with juniors in several golf programs over the years.

Let’s first talk about the concepts of helicopter parenting. The idea is that for children to succeed in the super-competitive modern world parents need to be involved in every aspect of their lives. This hovering is especially noteworthy around school where every grade is argued for the student, specialized tutoring is offered to help write college entrance essays, and other things of this nature.

The argument against this kind of parenting is that children who are not allowed to fend for themselves become anxiety ridden and unable to cope with the problems that arise in their lives. It’s fairly self-evident to me that if you do not allow a person to solve their own problems they will never learn that skill for themselves. It’s analogous the nanny state that America is becoming and I’ve talked about that in other posts.

One of the things I find discouraging about this country is how many people complain about the government without the realization that they are complaining about themselves. We are the government. We have the government we want. We chose them. I’ve talked about that topic before. My point in mentioning it here is that the nanny state isn’t responsible for helicopter parenting, it is our helicopter parenting that causes us to become a nanny state. Our representatives are us.

One of the ideas that I found most interesting about this sort of behavior was that parents who engage in it are actually less emotionally available to their children. They use modern technology to keep tabs on their children, fight with teachers, and defend their kids as a way to show their love without actually having to spend time loving. It’s like someone who clicks the “Like” button to support a cause. Look at me! I care! I hate cancer! Look at me, look at me. I’m better than you because you don’t hate cancer. I’m the greatest parent ever.

I’m certainly not suggesting that parents shouldn’t be involved in their children’s lives and their education. It just seems to me that a person who grows up not having to solve their own problems is not going to be a successful adult.

I’m reminded of my time at Spring Lake Golf Course in Quincy, IL under the direction of head pro Les Holcombe. We were teaching juniors when one little fellow came over to me and stated that “Jimmy took my club.” I was ready to offer my help when Les jumped in and said, “Then go take it back”. I immediately understood that Les was absolutely correct.

There are certainly circumstances of bullying, poor-teaching, and general life incidents that do require a parents intervention. I’m just suggesting that the first response to a ¬†difficulty that arises should not be to solve the problem for the child. A person who grows up solving their own problems is a person who has a better chance to succeed in life. Isn’t that what any parent wants?

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water (watch Silenia grow from frightened lamb to an empowered young lady)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

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4 Comments

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  1. teachling / Sep 28 2013 8:10 pm

    HI there, I know it’s a long time ago that you wrote this, but I stumbled across it recently and it inspired me to write a post on the topic, as a teacher. Take a peek if you have a chance and let me know what you think…

    http://teachling.wordpress.com/2013/09/29/helicopter-parents-more-harm-than-good/

    I’m a teacher from Australia and I’m slowly getting in touch with bloggers that are parents, teachers, psychologists etc so that we can have some great conversations about topics like this! Have a great day.

    • tomliberman / Sep 29 2013 12:23 pm

      Thank you for the comment teachling,

      It’s always nice to get validation from someone with first-hand experience on the topic for which I’ve been expounding. I recently wrote another blog that would suggest that you are not expecting too much from your students when you expect them to figure out an open chair is nearby, it’s lunchtime, or other things of those nature.

      In fact, you’re doing them a huge a favor.

      Feel free to come back anytime and don’t hesitate to tell me if you disagree with any of my conclusions!

      Tom

Trackbacks

  1. Why it is important to let your kids struggle as they grow up | Notes from an Alienated Dad
  2. Teachling | Helicopter Parents – More harm than good?

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