I’m enjoying these new terms for parenting that have been coming through. I think the first one was Helicopter Parents. Those are interesting; they are the parents constantly “hovering” around, making sure their kid isn’t doing anything wrong – anything at all. All play dates were at their house, they couldn’t come to your house. These are the parents in the front row at Parent-Teacher night. You know the ones.
There were the Bulldozer Parents, the parents that bull doze the way but allow their children to make some more of their own decisions. Of course they research every school in the area with every teacher, and will insist their kids get in the “good” teacher’s class, but they may allow their child to choose their own extracurricular interests.
Oh! And we can’t forget Permissive Parenting which is essentially high reward and low demand. No matter what the child does, it is usually the best thing ever! “YOU folded this napkin? You’re the best napkin folder ever.” Often times, these parents are not expecting too much from their children, and it may come as a shock to kids as they realize that others expect much more.
And now in 2016 the new buzz term is Lawnmower Parents, loosely defined as parents who literally mow the path for their children. They don’t allow the kid to decide for themselves, but rather show them exactly what to do. They fight the battles for their kids, going to teachers to turn that “B” into an “A”, “help” with their children’s homework and eventually even write their college admission essays.
As a Little League coach, I can say this is why team sports are so important for kids.
Every time your child doesn’t fight their own battle or pave their own way, they are missing out on valuable life experience. Yes, it is your job to show your kids what to do, but teaching and doing are two different things. If you let your child fight for themselves, they learn that they can accomplish things on their own, which builds self confidence.
Once kids are on the field – it is up to THEM, the little ones, to lead and to make decisions for themselves. The coaches will help them along, but the kids have to accomplish the plays on their own. They may win and they may lose. They may not be the BEST PLAYER EVER. But they will have fun. They will learn. And they will grow.
In a way this is why sports are as important for the parents as it is for their children. It gives us the opportunity to take a break and just let our kids be, within a properly restricted environment.
Personally, I believe that the best way to approach parenting is with fluidity. By the time you have a kid, you should have lived your life and be ready to help your child live theirs. Guide them but don’t control them. Be the person that your child needs you to be. The concerned parent when they are being quiet at dinner, the strict parent when they sneak out, the fun one when you go on vacation, but rigid when that stranger stands too close.
So what kind of parent are you? Do you want make sure your kid never has a problem and solves all of them for your kids? Or do you mow the problems out of the way by stepping in? Do you say no when you need to? Or have you found that fluid balance between it all?