“The attempt to prevent our kids from struggling for fear it might scar their permanent records is, instead, scarring them for life.” Liane Moriarty, author of Big Little Lies
What is a Helicopter mom?
Wiki Definition: A helicopter parent (also called a cosseting parent or simply a cosseter) is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover overhead, overseeing their child’s life.
I have checked myself a few times while overprotecting my children and making up excuses for their behaviour. Alfonz calls it, ‘making excuses for why they are the way they are.’
What I mean by that is that my children are not perfect! I know shocking!
Although they are perfectly and exactly who they are supposed to be, I am not under any delusions of grandeur, they will be who they are supposed to be.
So often I see parents trying hard to mould their children away from their natural instincts and character. What I have found is we are who we are, it may very well be innate; quirks and strong characters, ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses. But raising children takes hard work and sometimes that means to back the hell off!
Helicopter mothers not only help their children with their homework, but often do it for them, which is not helping the child when they must learn alone. You can exhaust yourself pushing them up the hill of life, but eventually they must stand by themselves. They cannot have a codependency on mother until their forties, (because those are the boys you don’t want to date.) Seriously however, we need to teach children to think and work on their own.
Helicopter mothers continue their over protecting natures even once the kids are off to college. I can see them struggling along side of their kids through every up and down, which honestly is the slippery slope the parent has created for their own child.
It only perpetuates the problem.
I say cut the tie sooner rather than later when it comes to homework. Show Tommy he can do it on his own. Failure is not failure it is a learning experience. If you never let your child make mistakes, then how will they ever learn to work alone?
What happens when the helicopter mom enters my classroom?
Many of us waited a very long time to have our children and we don’t want to do what our parents did: work long hours, leave them alone, not have money to buy them nice things…
But do parents have the right to enter the school and demand special favours for their ‘special’ children? After all, aren’t all children special to their parents?
Are teachers getting bullied by parents to entertain their children as they are forced to do at home? Do they want us to hold Tommy’s hand as they do at home?
Children are getting so spoiled, the only way to teach them is to cater to them or else the helicopter parent enters the scene.
Parents want teachers to see the gifts in little Tommy, even when it’s clear that he has a third eye and only mediocre attempts at learning. Parents want to convince teachers that Tommy is full of the most unbelievable gifts and that he is the most amazing child that has ever walked this earth.
I think this is a normal reaction when loving and raising your child. However, anything short of complete agreement will cause conflict with helicopter parents.
My job as a teacher is to agree to some extent, of course, and give Tommy the tools for him to take on the world, and leave his mark on it!
When little Tommy does his homework in five minutes flat before class and expects it to be graded well, and mother comes in saying but he tried so hard, usually that means mother wasn’t home to help with his homework and this is actually his level.
It is hard to be sympathetic.
When Tommy’s class project is full of grammatical errors and the parent’s say; ‘but at least Tommy completed the task! Hmm. Is this what the world is coming to? Half-ass attempts at learning without consequences.
My favourite as a teacher is the late homework projects, 2-3 weeks late, always with lovely articulate and sometimes elaborate stories of why it wasn’t done. I think students are very smart and they think that just missing my morning class and coming in the afternoon, calling in ‘sick’ on the date it is due, makes them magically exempt from all homework up until then!
I ask them, ‘Why?’
Are children doing all their projects last minute? Why is this my problem?
Do we all believe our children are amazing, gifted, gorgeous, and perfect beings? Of course we do!
In such an instant gratification society that we live in, are parents demanding end results immediately before their children do the work?
We are training our kids to think their lazy attempts at school are genius, and should be praised.
I read this amazing article on How Teachers Work With Five Different Personalities and I found a few of the situations written in the article resonating with me.
After all, I too am a parent and want the teachers to know and understand the needs of my own children. Especially when you have a gifted or challenged child; we all want what is best for them. Or the double whammy, the high IQ/ challenged child which seems to becoming more and more a thing.
The school system is designed to cater to ‘Tommy Average’, and anything below or above falls through the cracks.
In this world information is coming at these kids are rapid speeds, and we buy them all the computer devices and video game consoles to entertain them while we finish our own work or while we make dinner so we too can have a few moments of silence, peace, or plugged in to recharge!
But then on the other hand we send them off to school to slowly take in a lesson during the course of a 55 minute class, that can honestly be covered in about 15 minutes.
I remember back in the day when I was in school in the eighties, the teacher would set up the topic, ask questions, slowly leading us into the lesson topic. Today, kids simply don’t need all that. They know so much more than the last few generations, arriving with an entirely different skill set and in class they are bored out of their minds. I mean really bored in class. To the point that they don’t want to come to school any longer! It is painstakingly dull compared to their fast paced life at home.
I mean imagine. At home they watch high definition video games and movies, they text back and forth hundreds of times during the day with their friends, they see everything that everyone is doing staying connected at every moment, and they usually only unplug to go to school…. some even go through withdrawal for lack of ‘speedy information download’…. yes I totally made up that term. But what else can we call it.
With mach speed information, in class we spend 55 minutes on a single topic that they completely understand in once glance. Why are they understanding so quickly? Because concepts like genocide, war, history, popular controversial topics have already been thought straight through by grade 6, not grade 12 or university like generations before. Current events, history through video, documentaries, pop culture, trivia; they are reaching submersion into their societies long before their parents ever did. Not to mention taboo topics that used to be off limits are covered by parents in everyday conversations like religion, sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. The moment the question comes home, the parents are openly discussing them. Nothing is off limits anymore. Parents are talking to their kids from morning to night about everything under the sun.
And many times, they are privy to political and religious views and have developed a worldview and how they fit into it. I think it is patronizing to think they don’t understand something just because they are young. In fact, because they are young, they probably are more open to absorbing their environment, whether through the TV, film, internet, friends, family, school commercials, media, music… they are absorbing 24/7…
Helicopter moms. Back off. Let your kids fail and take responsibility earlier rather than later. The kids are super smart and they will be fine. Trust me. I have been doing this a very long time!