Friday, February 21, 2014

I don't understand helicopters

We call them helicopter parents - Danes have a similarly appropriate term - 'curlingforældre' (curling parents) - both images are equally colourful. But I don't understand them.

I got to thinking about it again last week. Marcel spent a couple of hours on Thursday filling in a visa application form with the Indian Consulate for his trip this summer. He happened to mention the next day at school what a bugger it had been and the few classmates he spoke to all replied with 'oh my mum did that for me'! Maybe I'm a tough-love parent but this wee guy is going to be 17 on his birthday. He is potentially going to leave home and go out in the big bad world as soon as next summer and so are his friends and yet their parents still are not forcing them to step up to the mark. I have friends who still drive their children everywhere, cook for them without any reciprocal expectations, wash and iron all their clothes and make the phonecalls that need making. Marcel works in the corner shop from 5am on weekends - just him and his boss and he says parents often come in asking for newspaper delivery jobs for their kids, they even ask for references for their kids who have worked there as paperboys and girls in the past! His boss has a blanket rule - if the kid doesn't ask, the kid doesn't get.

I know from a friend who works in uni admissions that nothing is more off-putting than a parent phoning up to ask why their child hasn't got into medical school, instead of the child (who is an adult, of course) ringing on their own behalf.

In my humble opinion, given you can't go off to uni, or wherever, with them, your most important job as a parent has to be to prepare them for independence and self-sufficiency, however much our natural instinct is to make their lives easier. It's time more of us ditched the cotton wool.

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