Monday, October 03, 2011

Guest Blog Entry: Are You a Helicopter Parent?

Today's guest blog entry is written by Dr. Tanya Gesek.  Dr. Gesek is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Syracuse University. She has worked as a middle school psychologist, in residential care for children, in county mental health, and has always maintained a private practice in some form or fashion. She is also the current President of the Central New York Psychological Association. Her guest blog entry discusses parenting, teaching responsibility to children, and helicopter parents (parents who hover like a helicopter over their children whether it is needed or not).

Are helicopter parents becoming a thing of the past?  I sure hope so.  Last spring I received an email from a parent asking about their child’s grade on a test.  The parent wanted to know what their child could do to improve their grade.  Right now you may be thinking, “That is not so bad.”  Well what if I told you that I teach at a major university?  Yeah, now you are with me.

The trend has likely predated my professional career, but I have been amazed in my work with both college students and younger children in my private practice, at how much parents do for their children.  For some reason, we parents have come to think that our job is to make our children happy, all the time.  Whatever happened to facing the challenge?  Do we even use the term “buck up” anymore?

Yes, it is much easier to tie their shoelaces for them.  Homework goes a lot smoother when you hold the pencil.  Your child will be more content if they never hear the word “no”.  There are less tears when everyone gets the first place ribbon.  Your house will be much cleaner if you just do the chores in the first place. 

But what you will also have is a grown up that does not know how to deal with frustration, a college student that cannot troubleshoot a really busy week, and a future employee that falls apart if they get critical feedback from their boss.

I have never heard of a child dying from disappointment and rarely hear my adult friends complain that they had to problem-solve for themselves as children.  Being a resilient adult includes facing challenges, dealing with disappointment and “bucking up”. 

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