If you, like me, have 150 Facebook friends with school age children, you’ve probably seen a bunch of photographs in the last couple weeks featuring kids in new clothing and various attitudes of excitement or embarrassment holding signs proclaiming “First Day of Kindergarten,” or some similar sentiment. Well, my cousin posted a picture of herself hugging her 5-year-old with a caption explaining that she was probably the worst mother in the world because she wasn’t going to make him hold an adorable sign before he went off to school, and that the child would probably be scarred for life because of this moral failure.
So that’s where this comes from. But it comes from other things, too, like the Boy once again losing his Kindle privileges because he was watching YouTube when he was supposed to be doing homework. I’ve been thinking along similar themes, how we hold our kids to higher standards than we hold ourselves, and most of us would find ourselves without smartphones if some higher power took them away when we used them to screw around on the Internet instead of work.
My feelings on helicopter parents are well-documented. OK, there are worse things you could do to your kids, but when we’re talking about good intentions gone wrong, wrapping your kids in bubble wrap and protecting them from every possible bump the universe might have to offer while arguing with teachers, coaches, and other experts on particular aspects of childhood why your kid is better than other kids and deserves to be treated differently is a terrific way to raise a completely helpless and ineffective human being. How long do you plan on doing this, I wonder? When I taught at the college level I heard of parents trying to advocate for their kids, and a couple kids told me their parents were going to call me, but my standard response was that I wasn’t going to talk to their mommies and daddies because they were grownups and responsible for their own behavior. Legally, I wasn’t supposed to discuss their grades with their parents either.
Still, my supervisor assured us that parents would call anyway. From the kids, I heard firsthand that their overbearing parents didn’t prepare them for life after high school. They didn’t know when to go to bed without being told; they didn’t know when to get up. All their lives they’d been told they were the best, and suddenly it turned out that they were just like everyone else. And, having never been allowed to fail, they didn’t know how to succeed on a level playing field.
Seriously, moms and dads, back off! Your kid should be given more responsibility every year so that they have actual adult experience when they are 18. They should be allowed to fail, over and over, so that they learn about consequences and how to make better decisions. They should be taught not to throw a fit when they don’t get everything they believe they deserve. Otherwise, they are going to be mightily disappointed when college spits them out into the real world and they don’t get every job and raise and promotion they think the world owes them.
However, if any children would like to argue that I deserve something more than I’ve achieved in life, I would welcome the effort.