The Helicopter Parent

We appreciate that our friend, Jon, took the time to comment on the post, “One of Fifteen.” His comment was well onto the snarky side, but it raised the important question of whether or not the Parent Imperfect is the perfect helicopter parent.

In truth, the PI had never heard of “helicopter parenting,” which shows just how out of the parenting scene he remains. The babyzone defines helicopter parents as “parents who hover over their children and become too involved in their lives, including interfering in college or career decisions later in life.” The site even offers a quiz to determine if a parent is moving in that direction. According to the quiz, the PI gets a “Nice Job!” rating. So there, Jon! (you’d have to be semi-conscious to fail the test)!”

But compared to the sort of parenting received by both Liz and the PI, they are heavily involved in the lives of both Vince and Connie. The PI can never decide if the issue is too much or too little hovering. Just yesterday, with the real coach absent, the PI was asked to step in and coach Vince’s second post-tryout soccer game. Vince thought long and hard before he allowed this to happen, and went along with it just because the only option was to cancel the game. At least soccer is a game that the PI can make no claim to know anything about. The game actually went OK, mostly because the PI resolved to keep his mouth shut, except to encourage his over-matched team.

An amusing 2009 article on the subject in Time Magazine speaks of a rising “backlash” against hovering, and its country cousin, “hyper-parenting.” If there is nation-wide backlash against the helicopter, it has yet to reach the PI’s haunts. The author of the Time article is particularly concerned with the tendency of parents to worry their children into submission, thereby creating, “”hothouse, mama-tied, danger-hallucinating joy extinguishers.”

This is a hard thing to talk about with other parents. Either they have little patience for the conversation, or they become quickly uncomfortable at the idea that what we see as our selfless devotion to our children might be messing them up, Hence, the PI’s ignorance of the helicopter theme.

What would a detective writer know about parenting? Not much, maybe, but in a thoughtful 2010 article in The Nation about “Ten Things You Should know About Slow,” Walter Mosley encourages his readers to check out a book called, Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children From the Culture of Hyper-Parenting. The PI has yet to take Mosley’s advice, but reading this on the book flap has gotten his attention:

Why do grouw-ups have to take over everything? This innocent question from acclaimed journalist and bestselling international author, Carl Honoré‘s son sparked a two-year investigation into how our culture of speed, efficiency and success at all cost is damaging both parents and children…

Perhaps reading this will back the PI off from his efforts to schedule Connie’s ballet class so that she can also take an acting class that will make her Saturday’s as over-scheduled as the rest of her week. Can you hear the noise of the rotors?

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