We all know about helicopter parents – the ones who have managed to create an ever-growing umbilical cord between them and their kids. They drive me crazy, mostly because their kids are either incredibly obnoxious or they’re so super-dependent that I can imagine a future of me taking care of them during my “golden years” of retirement (“Hold on while I get my walker. . . “). But, of course, there is always the other end of the spectrum - parents that can barely take the time to notice their kids or, even worse than making incredibly bad parenting decisions. . . they make none at all. They’re too busy ignoring their kids and counting on anyone and everyone else to pick up the slack – that’s what I call submarine parents.
I thought I was being über clever when I came up with that term. Right? Well, apparently I’m not the first. But despite the fact that someone beat me to the punch, I think it’s a phenomenon worth examining. Because the last thing I want to do when I’m traveling, dining or visiting family is have to dive in and be the navigator for these submarine kids.
You know when people say that you should need a license to have kids? Submarine parents are the reason why. You know you’ve seen them; the ones in the airplane whose kids are running up and down the aisles, screaming and dripping their juice boxes all over us. Or the ones you see at family functions, ignoring their kids and expecting the rest of us to keep them away from the Sterno or crystal champagne flutes.
I can understand being weary of running after a four year old, but how do you explain giving your kid ice cream and cupcakes for lunch? Sure, as a kid I would have wholeheartedly approved, but most people agree that prepubescent kids don’t usually make the best parental guides. On one hand, I don’t want to be in the “you shouldn’t have had them if you couldn’t control them” crowd, because I know it’s a lot more complicated than that. But, really, you did have them. . . and I didn’t. So, it is your responsibility. like it or not. As a non-parent (or, as I like to say, free adult), I may not have the same level of experience as you (though having 3 younger siblings I had to tend to – often – and sisters with no qualms about abusing my aunt status), but I think I know when you’re being, shall I say, less than parental.
When you don’t let them know that throwing food is bad, you’re a submarine parent. When you pretend you don’t notice them moving precipitously close to the deep end of the pool, you’re a submarine parent. When you let them decide to wear summer attire in the winter or sandals in the snow, you’re a submarine parent. And if you pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m gonna guess you’re one, too.