I walked into my daughter’s pre-K class yesterday to find her standing in the middle of the room. She’s on one side and her teachers on the other, like it’s the Wild Wild West. Everything in her three-year-old- says, NO.
The teachers go on to tell me that this standoff has been happening everyday. She doesn’t want to put away her sheet and blanket after naptime, nor does she want to help set the table for breakfast or put up her toys.
“Really? Maybe she’s still a bit shy,” I tell the teacher. This transition to school has been a process. My daughter, like most kids her age, is used to being at home with me.
Her teacher goes on to say that while she is still adjusting, I should also be mindful of helicopter parenting–which I basically take to mean hovering over, doing everything for her–and then she suggests giving her more chores.
“Okay,” I say, grabbing my daughter’s hand.
How does she know I don’t give them chores?
Let me just leave.
But later I keep thinking about this term helicopter parent. Could I be one? I do a little google search and discover an article about a woman who used to be the Dean of Stanford University. She has a new book based on her 10 years at Stanford where she discovered that while the kids looked smart on admissions papers, once they got in the class they were dumb as bricks (obviously, I’m paraphrasing, slightly).
The gist of the article was that these students were incapable of taking care of themselves because of parents who were too involved in their kid’s lives, calling them everyday, getting involved whenever there was a conflict, and hassling teachers. This over-parenting was essentially ruining their kid’s lives. It’s crazy when you think that parents are spending all this money for their kids to go to fancy Ivy League schools and these kids don’t know their ass from a popgun.
Then I get to a part in the article where it says one of the signs of helicopter parenting is doing the kid’s homework. Oh snap.
My other daughter just started Kindergarten and now she’s doing homework and not only do I hover, I will take the eraser out of her hand and erase the work that she did. Once I caught myself about to write the correct answer. In my head, I’m thinking that her homework needs to be done right, and sometimes that means it’s easier for me to just do it. I start thinking some more and realize that homework is just the tip of the iceberg. If my daughter’s forget to make the bed, I do it. If they spill food on the table, I wipe it up. When it’s time for them to brush their teeth I put the toothpaste on the brush and stand there to make sure they rinse and spit afterwards. The other day I told my three-year-old to take off her shirt to get dressed for school and she told me should couldn’t do it.
“Yes, you can. You’ve done it before,” I said.
She replied, “Just do it for me.”
Oh, God, I’m a HELICOPTER PARENT- which could easily be called, ‘Just-do-it’ parent because I do everything.
As parents, sometimes we don’t want to let go. Sometimes it’s just convenience that makes us do even the smallest things. I’m so freakin’ guilty. I’d rather get on with it than take the time to really show my kids how to do something because a lot of times I’ve got other things to do. Let me check my Facebook.
But as the Dean in the article I read points out, ‘Over-parenting robs kids of the chance to learn who they are, what they love and how to navigate the world.”
That’s not what I want. By the time my kids are in college I hope to have equipped them with enough skills and practice to know what they need to do. It takes time, but I’d rather do it now. I’ll be damned if I’m sitting in college with them, still erasing their answers. And for the record, they will have more chores.
This article first appeared on Madamnoire 10/21/15