Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You can take the girl away from the farm, but you can't make her into a 'responsible' enough mother. ;)

I was reading about the phenomenon of 'helicopter parents' in a SFGate article a little while back, and it kind of turned my stomach.

The article is about the anxiety parents have when their children go to summer camp, about how hard it is for parents to let go, and how *they're* the ones shedding tears over the reality of being separated from their children for an extended--yet FINITE--period of time. Apparently camps are having to put resources into preparing parents for the separation and how to cope. Okay, okay, yes, parents love their kids. I have three and yes, I love them dearly. I'd jump in front of a bus for them, and all that--really.

But I dunno. I grew up with a lot of freedom. A lot of boredom. And the ability to suffer some gnarly injuries if I chose to do something unwise. There are some things parents routinely did 'back in the day' which are considered taboo now, that I agree with. Leaving kids in the car to go grocery shopping (especially at dusk, which I remember scaring me) -- yeah, that is a no-no. Letting a 8 yr old baby sit a 4 yr old for a couple of hours alone? Oh yeah, let's skip that. But standing inches away from your child on the playground lest they look like they might stumble? Nah, no thanks. I'm there, watching from maybe even 10 yards away at times. A couple-few weeks ago I was at the park with Gretchen and her kids and we were talking about how much more relaxed one gets with each child, which is true, and she asked me if I'd have let Bun climb a certain structure at the same age as Carter, who was climbing it. Yeah, I would have. But not with a juice box in her hand, as Carter had, haha!

But that's not the point. The point is parents now are totally whackadoo in a lot of ways. Or at least the ones about which people want to write articles! I'm sure there are plenty of normal parents who stand close and let a child realize touching something a wee bit too hot hurts (hint: generally they don't really touch, but notice the heat because they have nerves in their skin), who let a smaller child try something hard on the playground. But the parents in this article, who the writer makes appear to be the rule nowadays, well, I would not want them to be my parents!

These parents sound not so much *into* their kids for the kids, but as some seriously selfish, egotistical extension of self. There is a quote where a mom actually sounds like her feelings are hurt because when her child wrote home from camp, the letters were not about missing home and her parents, but about all the fun she was having doing new things. Call me callous. But my heart did not go out to this mom in her time of needing her child to be utterly miserable missing her. Mommy needs to get over herself and be happy her child is happy!


Elle said...

When I taught K I had this one mother who was, shall we say, a bit obsessive about germs and dirt and anything that might make her kids sick or hurt. Her daughter, my student, actually had one of those tiny bottles of Purel attached to both her backpack AND her lunchbox, and she was adamant about using that Purel at all costs. She once fretted over the fact that another child had touched her and she was pretty sure she hadn't washed her hands. The little girl was in hysterics. Of course a learned behavior...and ironically this same child missed over 20 days of school from getting sick constantly throughout the year. Anyway, said mother also used to follow her 2 year old son around the playground within about 4 feet. I saw him trip and she grabbed him and dusted off his hands and legs, and then she checked them for any cuts...yes, it was one little stumble. Oy. I felt badly for that boy. And the little girl? Well, let's just say she had a few visits with the counselor about her preoccupations with dirt and germs. In this mother's case, yes, I would say she went too far. This was the same mom who asked me if I still made the kids play outside when it was raining or snowing. Oy.

Kristianna said...

I remember you telling me about that really stupid question. Do you also make them play outside during thunderstorms? How about if there were a tornado?

I know there are supposedly no stupid questions. But that's a load of bull. There are *for sure* stupid questions. And 'do they play outside in the rain' is one of them. :)

by Heidi-Marie said...

IMO, it's our job to prepare our kids to leave one day (to be self-sufficient, responsible, educated and experienced enough in day-to-day life things to stand on their own) and it starts now. Yes, I'm much more relaxed with kid #2 than kid #1 (she was hermetically sealed til the age of 2 and even then...). Is it because I'm more confident as a mom and just more relaxed? Yes. Is it because he is a boy? Yes. I was overly "protected" as a child and the minute I had any independence, I ran with it and never looked back (re: hostile rebellion).

I would be very happy to receive a letter from one of my kids saying how much fun they were having without me. And I would probably be having just as much fun without them (for a little while)- ha ha!

Elle said...

Oh but her question was intelligent since she had a PhD in biology (obviously not epidemiology). Ha. :)


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