observing “grown-ups”

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Human nature is a funny thing. People can be funny. But sometimes it’s not so much funny as simply astounding.

Having a high schooler means a whole new world. Kids are growing up, and we should be letting them solve some of their own issues. But instead, what I am seeing can only be described as well…extreme helicopter parenting.

Helicopter parents are the extra super involved parents who are too involved, and that is putting it mildly and kindly. Basically their kids don’t make a move without their involvement and that includes running interference. On everything.

Parenting Magazine has an interesting article online about this phenomenon:

What Is Helicopter Parenting? Confused about how to be an involved parent without smothering your kids? Here’s how to tell if you’re a helicopter parent, along with expert advice to curb the hovering. By Kate Bayless

The term “helicopter parent” was first used in Dr. Haim Ginott’s 1969 book Parents & Teenagers by teens who said their parents would hover over them like a helicopter; the term became popular enough to become a dictionary entry in 2011. Similar terms include “lawnmower parenting,” “cosseting parent,” or “bulldoze parenting.” Helicopter parenting refers to “a style of parents who are over focused on their children,” says Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D…..Ann Dunnewold, Ph. D., a licensed psychologist and author of Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Juice Box, calls it “overparenting.” “It means being involved in a child’s life in a way that is overcontrolling, overprotecting, and overperfecting, in a way that is in excess of responsible parenting,” Dr. Dunnewold explains.

Although the term is most often applied to parents of high school or college-aged students who do tasks the child is capable of doing alone (for instance, calling a professor about poor grades, arranging a class schedule, manage exercising habits), helicopter parenting can apply at any age. “In toddlerhood, a helicopter parent might constantly shadow the child, always playing with and directing his behavior, allowing him zero alone time,” Dr. Dunnewold says. In elementary school, helicopter parenting can be revealed through a parent ensuring a child has a certain teacher or coach, selecting the child’s friends and activities, or providing disproportionate assistance for homework and school projects.

Even The Washington Post had an interesting article on this topic recently:

Washington Post: On Parenting How helicopter parents are ruining college students By Amy Joyce September 2

Attention, parents of college students.

Say your kid has a problem with a roommate. Maybe one “borrowed” his favorite t-shirt. Maybe your daughter’s roommate leaves old, stinky Chinese take out in the mini-fridge. Perhaps your child is so upset about this he texts you five times a day to complain.

Here’s the thing: Don’t call the college president to ask him to handle the situation. (Yes, that happens.)

So you figure all the normal helicopter parenting is having to do with academics and sports, right? Well, what about meddling essentially in the interpersonal relationships of teenagers?

Ok I get wanting to know who your kid is hanging out with. Especially when kids start dating and then driving. But where do you draw the line? I ask because I am seeing crazy stuff. As in parents getting involved when teenage romances go south.

Sounds crazy, but is totally true.

Those first couple years of high school teenagers are in love every other day. Hook ups and break ups are part of being a teenager, like a right of passage. With the break ups comes guaranteed drama, especially from girls. And every mood is mercurial and changes with the weather and somehow we all survived, right?

But are we supposed to let what amounts to teen angst rule the purported grown ups today? I ask because I have been observing these parents of this teen girl run roughshod over parents where their kid is friends with their kids over a break up. I know tough to follow but it’s like this: girl and boy break up. Girl is not happy so everyone needs to see it her way and the parents are involved in this too. And these are young kids, as in they are like 8th or 9th graders! (And don’t get me started on I do not understand dating at this age which to me is so young anyway, and wow, really?)

Seriously, these parents are telling other parents not to let their kids be friends with another kid no longer dating their kid. And if the parents don’t comply, they are thrown off these other parents’ fantasy island. Yes, If Alice is looking through the looking glass on this one, she really might go down the rabbit hole to get away from this scene. I have coined this “mama drama” and well, I am embarrassed for them because what does bullying other parents do? Other than teach their children that bullying behavior like this is acceptable?

And while the parents are helicoptering in teen romance, the kids aren’t behaving any better. The drama feeds the drama feeds the drama. I would say I am astounded by this behavior from adults, except, well I have as a blogger, cyber bullies to deal with. If I can’t explain why a middle-aged woman pushing 60 living in a rural southern town sits on her smart phone in her double wide cyber bullying and cyber stalking me on basically a daily basis, how can I explain what these parents are doing? The answer is I can’t .

All I do know is we are supposed to support our kids and lead by good, not negative example. And how can we ask the kids to do better and be better if the parents can’t even do that ?

In the midst of all this I am seeing another form of helicopter parent that puzzles me even more. These are the helicopter parents that also want to hang out with their kids like they are peers and not parents. How is that supposed to work? When the kids go to college will these parents be working the tap at the frat house kegger?

Again, a lot of what I do is sit back and observe. Sometimes I think it is me just not getting something because I haven’t been a parent for all that long. But then I talk to parents I know and they tell me their stories and I shake my head even more. I guess I just don’t understand. We want to control things to an extent to protect our kids, but shouldn’t we have a line in the sand somewhere? After all, how does anyone start to grow up if the parents are hovering quite literally over everything?

Thanks for stopping by.

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