December 08, 2009

The Growing Backlash Against Overparenting

Earlier this year I wrote a post called A Fearful Society- Rearing Children in a Scary World in which I shared some of my parenting concerns.

We spend too much time worrying about the worst happening. Too much time fearing that our children will be damaged or broken by what we do or do not do for them.

Today Treppenwitz sent me over to a Time Magazine article that ties into this. It is called The Growing Backlash Against Overparenting and it is worth reading.
"The insanity crept up on us slowly; we just wanted what was best for our kids. We bought macrobiotic cupcakes and hypoallergenic socks, hired tutors to correct a 5-year-old's "pencil-holding deficiency," hooked up broadband connections in the treehouse but took down the swing set after the second skinned knee. We hovered over every school, playground and practice field — "helicopter parents," teachers christened us, a phenomenon that spread to parents of all ages, races and regions. Stores began marketing stove-knob covers and "Kinderkords" (also known as leashes; they allow "three full feet of freedom for both you and your child") and Baby Kneepads (as if babies don't come prepadded). The mayor of a Connecticut town agreed to chop down three hickory trees on one block after a woman worried that a stray nut might drop into her new swimming pool, where her nut-allergic grandson occasionally swam. A Texas school required parents wanting to help with the second-grade holiday party to have a background check first. Schools auctioned off the right to cut the carpool line and drop a child directly in front of the building — a spot that in other settings is known as handicapped parking.

We were so obsessed with our kids' success that parenting turned into a form of product development. Parents demanded that nursery schools offer Mandarin, since it's never too soon to prepare for the competition of a global economy. High school teachers received irate text messages from parents protesting an exam grade before class was even over; college deans described freshmen as "crispies," who arrived at college already burned out, and "teacups," who seemed ready to break at the tiniest stress."
Boy, that just made me nod my head in agreement. How many people do I know that are afraid to let their children fail. How many people do I know that bend over backwards to make sure that their kids haven't a chance to cry because god forbid that happens.

I understand. I worry about my obligations and A Father's Responsibility.  I never forget about those children. I never ignore what I have to do to help raise them. But part of that is teaching them how to cope. And it drives me crazy to see how some parents fail to do so. Frankly it bothers me to see them cripple their children by not allowing them to fall.

And I am no different about education. I want the kids to receive the best, but I agonize over it. It is an ongoing discussion and question in my mind. I am convinced that a great education is among the best gifts that we can give our children.

But I am also convinced that it is not the sole key to their success. There is more to all of this and I am convinced that over parenting is damaging some of these kids in ways that are just as harmful as drugs. Good intentions are a wonderful thing, but they don't always make up for the mistakes that sometimes accompany them.


Real Dads Hangout said...

I couldn't agree more! Over-parenting is something I struggle with as I feel my kids deserve the best but I also want them to earn it themselves and learn through life's lessons. I wrote a post myself called "When Did Parents Become Pansies?" about my take on the subject.

Jack said...

Read your post, I enjoyed it. It is hard to find that balance, but it is out there.