Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Helicopter parenting ain't cheap.

Last month I blogged about helicopter parents: parents who constantly hover over their children, ready to swoop in and monitor every choice their child(ren) makes. In that post I focused on the relationship between allowing children to make their own decisions and self-confidence. But today I read an article that brought up another issue related to helicopter parenting: socioeconomic status (SES).
The article, Parents: When to back off, when to step in, offers recommendations for parents from two child experts. Allow me to highlight a couple of their recommendations:
  • You elementary schooler calls you from school (you are at work) and tells you she forgot her costume for the dress rehearsal. The expert recommendation: "The first time find a housekeeper or neighbor to bring it over...but if she does this routinely, she needs to suffer consequences to learn from the experience."
  • Your adult child is struggling to stay afloat financially, and she has made multiple requests for help paying rent and utilities. The expert recommendation: "Pay the first month's rent with clear expectations...she needs to know that this is a loan."
While reading this I thought to myself, "how many parents in today's economy have the time, money and resources to provide for their children in these ways?" Honestly, how many of us have a housekeeper or neighbor available to run errands for our children? And how many of us can provide our financially-unstable adult-children with a loan without jeopardizing our own financial security?
I agree that for a first or maybe second offense, helping out our children is okay. But for so many people, this is not an option. For many folks, just getting their children to and from school is a struggle. There are single parents with multiple kids and working multiple jobs, and they are lucky to get home in time to tuck their children in bed. And when their children are old enough to take care of themselves, well, forget a loan. They might have three or four other children that they are still struggling to provide for.
Sure, you don't have to have money to be a helicopter parent, but it sure makes it easier. Next time you think about swooping in to "save the day," think about that single mom who is working her tail off just to get home in time for dinner and homework. What would she do? Sometimes it takes the smallest amount of time, money and resources for our children to learn the most valuable life lessons.
I should note: In terms of SES, there are many wonderful parents who struggle financially while making great sacrifices for the sake of their children. I applaud these parents. But I would be interested in seeing research to support my theory of helicopter parents and SES - As SES increases so does the number of helicopter parents, and as SES decreases so does the number of helicopter parents.

1 comment:

Sara said...

oooh ooh oooooh-- look at you!
i smell a doctorate in the works!!!
good stuff girl.

love it.