If there is a TED Talk every parent needs to hear before sending their child back to school…this is it.
Anyone that has worked around a school setting long enough no longer hears the word helicopter and thinks “Blackhawk” or “fun, little tourist activity.”
The term “Helicopter Parent” has come to define a parenting style that educators struggle with every and students are at its detriment.
Warning: I am not going to sugarcoat this.
Helicopter parents are overly involved in their child’s lives and struggle with letting their children make decisions, handle their own conflicts and ultimately develop those needed skills to leave the nest.
As a school counselor for middle and high school students, I have seen parents make major life decisions for their students such as where to go to college, push their students in courses they are not ready for and hover over their grades like vultures, but never ask their child what their own goals are. They have yelled at me when I encourage them to let their students discuss the “teaching style that isn’t working” with a teacher and have even offered to mediate in order to help their child development that conflict resolution skill.
Students have cried in my office when they got a B on a math test because their parents will ground them…when they truly studied for hours and spent time with the teacher and knew they gave their best. I have seen spirits squelched.
Helicopter parents oftentimes seek to live vicariously through their children or, in an effort of wanting the best, push their students to standards that they have never had to meet themselves ( a point Lythcott-Haims really drives home). Ultimately, it is due to this hovering that their children struggle with finding their own identity and have a tougher time navigating the harsh realities of the world when it hits them.
As a parent myself, I understand how we want the best for our kids. We want to keep them safe. We love them. However, there are developmentally appropriate decisions that they need to be able to make for themselves as they develop into the adults they will become. They need to experience failure, heartbreak and regret. It’s not easy to watch them handle these things. It is our job to guide and encourage them through these moments and transitions. By no means am I saying that you should never step in and advocate for your child. But, we cannot spare them from these trials and realities , or give them a script that we require them to follow because we ‘know best.”
When I first heard Julie Lythcott-Haim’s TED Talk on raising successful children I knew I also had to read her book. The book, “How To Raise An Adult” now has a permanent place on my shelf.
She challenges parents and even educators to stop micromanaging their students in terms of grades and activities… to throw out the ‘checklisted childhood.” Instead, she urges us to instill in our youth a strong work ethic and to guide and encourage…but not squelch. She challenges parents to spend less time asking about grades and more time understanding their child actual passions, fears, interests, and aspirations. Of course, we need to provide consequences for lack of effort if they slack off in school. However, at the heart of the matter, having a more active interest in them as individuals is what will help them become healthy, well-rounded adults.At the heart of the matter, having a more active interest in them as individuals is what will help them become healthy, well-rounded adults. Click To Tweet
I wish I could share this Ted talk with every parent that comes into my office.
Our kids are burnt out…and it’s time to land the helicopter.
But, it challenged me as a parent and definitely deserves a listen before you send your students back to school this year.
After listening, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.