I never realized it before, but my husband and I were bad parents.
We were there for all of our daughter’s skating competitions (my fingernails are just beginning to grow back), scraped knees, “boy drama,” friend drama, school plays and dance photo ops. But there were times we let her make her own decisions and learn from mistakes.
Thus, horrible parents by today’s definition.
By merely offering support and not doing everything possible to make sure she succeeded at everything, we weren’t doing our parental duties. (Of course, back then the idea of kids getting a trophy for not spilling their chocolate milk was just beginning to mutate). Now the “helicopter parent” has become an ICBM missile, aimed at anything and anyone that will get in their child’s way.
Witness the group of folks in Colorado Springs who turned an Easter egg hunt last year into a WWE Smackdown.
Since there was no place in the park where the hunt was held to really hide the plastic eggs (filled with candy and coupons for local merchants), thousands were put in plain view on the grass. Depending upon whose version you hear, a public address system malfunction made the starting signal hard to hear.
Unsure of when to start, and traumatized at the thought that their child would came away eggless, parents jumped over the rope surrounding the field. Scooping up all the eggs, the hunt was over in seconds. Woe to any unsuspecting 3-year-old who got in their way.
The hunt was canceled for this year. Way to go, guys.
Ron Alsop, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and author of “The Trophy Kids Grow Up,” calls this generation “the millennial children.” He adds, “That’s the perfect metaphor for millennial children. They (parents) can’t stay out of their children’s lives. They don’t give their children enough chances to learn from hard knocks, mistakes.”
He traces this child worship back to the 1980s when Baby Boomers stuck “Baby on Board” signs in the back windows of their new minivans. But now it doesn’t stop when kids leave the nest.
When our daughter started college, it was unbelievable, at least to us, the number of parents at orientation who expected to be notified of everything their child did, including “homework.” Now, at least two New York companies have established “take your parent to work day.”
Now, you have to ask yourself, are these people really in it for the good of their children, or is it more about themselves? Is a child’s failure a reflection on their parenting? Were the participants in “Egg-pocalypse” flashing back to when their mean parents made them gather their own Easter eggs?
Maybe it would have been a nice gesture to leave the kids alone, and then encourage those who gathered up a bunch of eggs to share with those who had none. What a concept.
Sure, it’s a different world out there. The days of opening the back door on a Saturday and telling the kids “See you at dinner!” are long gone. There are dangers out there that 10 years ago we couldn’t have imagined, and competition is fierce. Plus, we’ve only scratched the surface of the mysterious world called “cyberspace.”
The line between protecting our children and being overbearing has become thinner, but it still needs to be drawn.
A while ago, our daughter, who has grown up to be a successful, independent adult (who doesn’t call enough), thanked us for not constantly hovering, and allowing her to learn by her mistakes. She even tried an Easter egg hunt once, and decided that the stampede was not for her.
And we saw no need to egg her on.