Where do helicopter parents come from?


Maybe they come from situations like this, as reported in the Nashville Tennessean:

Teaching your kids to ride a bike, shuttling them to doctor appointments, reminding them to say “Yes, ma’am,” helping with algebra homework and training them to be sensible shoppers.

These aren’t the stuff memories are made of in some families.

Instead, there are services in the Nashville area that give you the choice of outsourcing traditional parental duties.[…]

In some large cities, you can pay professionals to come into your home and coach your baby into better sleeping patterns, toilet train your toddler and pick the head lice off your little one’s scalp.[…]

At Your Service will take children grocery shopping to teach them the value of money and how to compare brands, as well as take them pet-sitting to teach responsibility, said co-owner Rose Mary Rovansek, who spent 20 years as a child-care teacher before opening the service.

Parents have a lot of stress and don’t have a lot of time or patience,” Rovansek said. “One mom said she’s always in the hurry when she goes grocery shopping and doesn’t want to take the time to explain the Kraft brand vs. the store brand.

You’ll save time, but it will cost you $45 an hour. [emphases added]

There are two ways to ameliorate parental stress. One is to change your lifestyle and attitude, and those of your family, so that time crunches naturally go away. Once you, as a parent, accept the fact that your number 1 (and #2, #3, …) duty in life is to the raising of your kids and all else is subordinate to that duty — and that you are not entitled to the carefree existence you had before kids any more — and once you start saying “no” to things for your kids and focus instead on open family time without pressure, then a lot of this supposed impatience and stress simply vanishes. If you don’t have time to explain to your kid the difference between brands of mac & cheese in the grocery store, you don’t need a consultant — you need a new life.

The other way, as we see here, is use money as a proxy for parenting. There’s a certain logic to this. If you set out to teach your 2-year old how to go potty, then you have to deal with all the failures and frustrations — not to mention the late-night cleanups — that come with it. But if you pay a potty coach $45/hour to do the same thing, then you can blame the failures and cleanups on them. You can “hold them accountable” and shift the responsibility when things don’t work out perfectly. I wonder if there is a clause in the contract here to get a refund when (not “if”) the toddler wets the bed at 2:30 AM.
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The logical consequence of this second way is helicopter parenting. When those professionally-coached kids get to college — as they no doubt will, since the money formerly used for toilet training will buy them good SAT scores and plenty of tutoring — then the attitude will be that the parent is paying for the college to produce an educated kid. And if the kid has never worked for anything or suffered the frustrations of not getting things right — and someone else has been “held accountable” for those failures — then the natural thing for the parent is to loudly question why they aren’t getting what they paid for.
It’s one thing to have kids learn stuff through interesting “camp” experiences and another to use money to circumvent the development of persistence — and to circumvent the responsibility of parenting.

[via Joanne Jacobs]

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