Commentary by Terry Anker
Over time, there have been many descriptors for it. Today, one of the most popular couplets is “helicopter parents.” But, overprotective and excessively involved parents are not a particularly new phenomenon. Some of us struggle to let go. Perhaps, it is based in an understandable fear of the many dangers of the modern world and our desire to protect our offspring from malady. Perhaps, it comes from the hyper-competitive environment confronting our progeny and our legitimate yearning to give Junior a leg-up. Or, perhaps it stems from an obsessive need for control – after all, if they grow up, they might leave us. Whatever the genesis, a fixation with constant involvement can be destructive for parent and child alike.
To the kids, our love can suffocate, propagating a failure to develop self-reliance and personal responsibility. While the adults become so fully entangled in dance recitals and travel hockey, they fail to attend to their own interests, careers and marriages. Don’t misunderstand, the parent-child relationship is a sacred one. If parents were universally and appropriately involved in providing for their own children, so many of the world’s problems would naturally resolve.
But to miss a third grade soccer game or two isn’t grounds to call protective services. In fact, don’t stress. There are many, many, many more games yet to come. It is not about seeing every single step, or even the first step. Instead, isn’t it about walking along side for the ones that follow? And is a family better served with happy and fulfilled parents rather than ones who, while ever-present, have grown too weary or resentful to find joy in the role?
Every kid is different and demanding of a unique approach. And, they are our first obligation. But once-in-a-while, let someone else make the cookies.