A common phrase tossed around social media, teacher's lounges and the pool is helicopter parenting. Sometimes the phrase becomes lawnmower parents or bulldozer parents. We have all heard the phrase, the reference to parenting styles today. We are often quick to say, "When I was a kid, my mom just had me drink from a hose and gave me a bologna sandwich on white bread". Right... who hasn't heard the tales of how parents in the 70's or 80's parented? Like it is a golden elixir to what ails the parenting world today. If we could just turn back time, today's parents would see the amazing parenting styles of the parents of yesteryear (insert sarcastic eye roll here!).
I am a child born in the 70's and I did drink from a hose and ate LOTS of bologna on white bread with Hellman's mayonnaise. I stayed out until the streetlights came on, got dirty, went on adventures and rode my bike a million miles a day. It was a great childhood! Was my mom doing anything different than any other mom? No, everyone in my small town did the same thing.
I have children of the new Millenium who have not had the same childhood experiences that I have had. They don't stay out until the streetlights come on or the fire station blows the whistle. Why not? Mainly because it is a different time and place. We live in an era where kids have easy access to electronics that were not around when I was their age. They are presented with a million different options for everything. I mean Saturday morning cartoons are not a big thing for kids today, they have cartoons 24/7. They will never know the excitement I felt to get up on Saturday and watch the cartoons with my dad.
Did my mom let me learn somethings for myself? Absolutely! Did she help with school work? Absolutely... she was an elementary school teacher and her projects were always better than mine! She struck a balance between doing everything for me and allowing me to figure it out. I have tried to do that with my kids... help when needed but allow them to fail. Without failure, they will not learn anything. I think that is the hardest concept for parents to not only understand but to follow through on. We all want what is best for our kids, we want them to have a great life.. better than ours. When they cry or are angry it feels like a direct hit to the heart, we want to scoop them up and make it better. At some point we have to allow them to feel things, to experience what it is like to fail, to learn a lesson, and to pick yourself back up and move on. Bulldozing, helicoptering or lawnmowing... whatever you want to call it.... will not help the kids in the long run. Will it be easier in the moment? Absolutely! When they go to college and can't write a paper? Not so much! Can we offer our kids help? Absolutely! Should we do the work for them, or micromanage their every word? Not so much!
I have a sign hanging above my kitchen door, it is a quote attributed to many professional athletes so I can't give credit to who said it, but it says, "You miss 100% of the shots you never take". Without trying something on your own, without failing and learning from your mistakes, you can not grow into the person you are destined to be. As my mom said (at least four billion times!), "Chrissy, can't never did anything."