Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Fine Line

I had never heard the term "helicopter parent" until our pastor mentioned it in a sermon a few months back. The term is used to describe a parent who constantly micro-manages her child's life, from the preschool play dates with the "right" children and elementary school teacher selection, to interference with the high school and college essay writing and post-graduation resume writing. Picture it. It's not a pretty sight.

Who knows how this phenomenon has evolved. Clearly it stems from worry, and wanting the best for our children. It's got to be more than that though. Perhaps it's the result of all of the absentee parenting that went on when my generation of parents were growing up. I can't help but think that with a little more guidance and encouragement earlier on that perhaps I would have known to believe in myself a lot more and a lot sooner. Maybe others are thinking along the same line and trying to provide for their children what seemed to be missing in their own lives. Lest anyone get worried that I'm parent bashing, take a step back and keep reading.

I suspect that some might consider me a helicopter parent (or worse!), though I cannot begin to imagine stepping into the college interview or worse, the job interview, to answer for my child. I am involved in my children's education, very involved. I tried not being involved and letting the teachers get to know my child, thinking that those teachers would see what we knew of our child, The results were horrible. My daughter floundered and the teachers didn't care. She barely hit the grade level expectations in the classroom despite testing higher than high on numerous assessments.

I try to walk a fine line. I'm convinced that if I'm not involved my kids will not get the education that they deserve. The kids' teachers need to know that they are exceptional learners. Learners who, if overlooked and will fail to blossom. In time, they will each, as our oldest has already done, grow enough and be confident enough to manage their own educational journeys. I look forward to the day that I can breathe easy knowing my kids have all the tools they need to assert themselves respectfully in order to get what they need from their various learning programs.

I think that as long as we remember that our job is to empower and encourage and enable our children to think for themselves, that we will also then remember that we can stop "hovering" and allow them to show us how capable they are.

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