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The dangers of helicopter parenting


helicopter-parent“My daughter hates me!!” Mr. M exclaimed, somewhat more dramatically than necessary. I looked at him in surprise. Normally he is an affable man, extremely devoted to his family.
I made suitable sounds of soothing, non-judgemental encouragement.
“Everything I suggest is laughably stupid. I seem to have no class. She is always pushing me away even when I am only trying to help,” he reiterated with vehemence.
Now I know his daughter. A mild mannered teen who I think is much more disciplined and focused than most teenagers. I wouldn’t link such an outburst with her.
“What happened?”
“She makes fun of my suggestions for her dresses. I want her to have all the good things. But all I get is a shout.”
“You know about the teenagers and their raging hormones, right?” I queried.
“What hormones? Weren’t we kids once? I would have been so glad if my father paid all that attention to me in my childhood. He hardly spoke to me!! I don’t want to be a father like that. I want to be involved in my kid’s life, to support and nurture.”
Lofty thoughts, right intention, yet something was seriously wrong.
“There must be some communication gap.” I suggested.
“What communication gap? All the time I am away from the office, I try to spend it with her. I try to help out with her chores too. I take a day off for her exams. So much I try to help, yet instead of feeling grateful just pushes me away. She says that she will manage on her own and I needn’t bother.” Now I could understand the problem somewhat.
“Tell me, your work takes up the major chunk of time. Then you are running errands for your kids. When do you get time for yourself?”
“Time for me,” from Mr. M’s face it was evident that this was an alien concept. “What do I need time for myself?”
“Oh for hobby or something, socialising, networking or just watching a movie.” I suggested.
“Pah, hobbies are for kids. I like to spend all my spare time with my family. Why spend time with friends and relatives when the family needs attention?”
There lay the crux of the problem. Children need their space to try out their newly sprouted wings. All that smothering only finishes up the air making them feel asphyxiated. It is a parent’s duty to care for the child, but waiting on hand and foot is a definite no. This not only prevents the child from becoming self-reliant, but also makes the child take parents for granted.
We were standing in my garden. I was watering the plants. An idea struck me. I kept dousing the hapless plant with water from the watering can. Soon the pot was full to the brim and the excess water started spilling out.
“Watch out, what are you doing? You are over-watering the plant,” Mr. M shouted in alarm.
“Oh but I thought if I pour more water it will grow better.” I said archly, tweaking my eyebrows for more emphasis.
“What nonsense! Too much of anything is bad.”
“Exactly”, I was smug, having proven my point.
Now Mr. M is an intelligent man. He took the hint. “So too much care is not good? “
“Yes. Your caring attitude may be interpreted as unwonted interference. There is parenting, and then there is over parenting. Put some distance. Stop being a helicopter parent. Let her be self-reliant. Also don’t try to guess kid’s fashion trends. It is really beyond us.”
“Hmmm…” The idea was sinking in Mr. M’s mind.

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Sia Mitra is a freelance writer and blogger with more than a decade of experience. She has written for most major publications like Femina, Prevention, Complete Well-being, Child, Mother & Baby, Parent & Child, Womens Era, etc.


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