In case you haven’t already seen this popular post at Time, pay a visit to Nancy Gibbs’ article “Can These Parents Be Saved: The Growing Backlash Against Overparenting.”
Overparenting goes by other names, like hyperparenting and helicopter parenting. It boils down to being overinvolved in our children’s lives—perhaps to the point of holding them back.
Kids growing up with parents who take these approaches end up smothered, overwhelmed, overprotected, and ill-prepared for their transition to adulthood.
To give you a taste, here are some excerpts and memorable lines taken directly from the article (with bold from me):
- We were so obsessed with our kids’ success that parenting turned into a form of product development.
- [C]ollege deans described freshmen as “crispies,” who arrived at college already burned out, and “teacups,” who seemed ready to break at the tiniest stress.
- [T]here is now a new revolution under way, one aimed at rolling back the almost comical overprotectiveness and overinvestment of moms and dads. The insurgency goes by many names — slow parenting, simplicity parenting, free-range parenting — but the message is the same: Less is more; hovering is dangerous; failure is fruitful. You really want your children to succeed? Learn when to leave them alone. When you lighten up, they’ll fly higher. We’re often the ones who hold them down.
- “Our whole culture,” says [Carrie] Contey, 38, “is geared around ‘Is your kid making the benchmarks?’ There’s this fear of ‘Is my kid’s head the right size?’ … I just want to pull the plug on that.'”
- The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that the decrease in free playtime could carry health risks: “For some children, this hurried lifestyle is a source of stress and anxiety and may even contribute to depression.” Not to mention the epidemic of childhood obesity in a generation of kids who never just go out and play.
- Some teachers talk of “Stealth Fighter Parents,” who no longer hover constantly but can be counted on for a surgical strike just when the high school musical is being cast or the starting lineup chosen. And senior year is the witching hour: “I think for a lot of parents, college admissions is like their grade report on how they did as a parent,” observes Madeleine Rhyneer, dean of students at Willamette University in Oregon.
It’s hard to fight the fears that prompt us to overprotect and overinvolve ourselves in our kids’ activities.
But it’s good to remind ourselves to let them build independence … and the confidence that will come from that.
If we reject the helicopter-parent approach, we may find ourselves significantly less frenzied and discover that we’re finally the parents we’ve wanted to be all along.
And that our kids are fine. Just fine.