Beyond Babedom

We're (way) over 40. Deal with it.

Independence Day

Independence. When you’re on your own, making your own decisions and living with them. That’s what it used to mean. But now in the world of helicopter parenting, it has a whole ‘nother meaning. In other words, independence means having your own room that Mom and Dad aren’t allowed to go in while they support you, fill out your college applications and make sure nothing bad happens to you.

Real independent, huh?

Oh, I’ve heard all the justifications from the parents’ point of view. “I’m spending (fill in the blank) thousand dollars a year to put Tiffany through college. I can’t afford to let her miss a deadline!” Or “Justin’s never done this for himself before; I have to help him!” Not only are their parents doing everything for them, they even come up with excuses for their bad habits: “Dahlia has so much stress in her life. That’s why she smokes!”

Not only is all of this pathetic. It does absolutely nothing to prepare them for real life. When your parent does your homework for Cindy (or complains to the teacher about your grade), they aren’t doing her any favors. When Mom makes a special holiday menu for Jimmy who will only eat chicken nuggets, exactly how is this preparing him for life? Can’t you just imagine him on a date or going to lunch with his boss?

These parents fund everything, from cars to companionship to college, then they wonder why their kids can’t make it on their own. They search the internet for jobs, fill out their applications, write their resumes. . . then can’t understand why Brandon can’t hold a job for more than a few months. “It just wasn’t challenging enough for him.” How about challenging them to do something – anything – on their own?

The saddest thing about this parental overreaching isn’t that their kids never learn what it is to struggle and overcome. It isn’t that they don’t get to enjoy the fruits of their own labor. It isn’t even that they get out of college expecting to make $100,000. The saddest thing is that they – and their helicopter parents – actually think that living at home, rent free, or going to college on Mom and Dad’s dime, or having Mommy do all the grunt work to get them a job or an acceptance letter is true independence.

What they need – or will need at some point in their life – is their own Declaration of Independence.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for Tiffany and Justine to dissolve the bands which have connected them with Mommy and Daddy, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Common Sense entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of (wo)mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. . .  and to growing up.

Hallelujah!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2012 at 3:47 pm and is filed under Family. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  1. Terri says:

    Bravo!!! As a parent of a 12 year old I so often see the helicopter parents. I think the biggest problem is the competitiveness between them! They want their kid to be better than everyone else’s at everything even if it means doing everything for them so that they appear to be the best! I still see parents that treat their teen and preteens like 2nd graders! My husband gets annoyed with me when I tell my son to make his own damn sandwich! haha He’s twelve he can make a sandwich! They have to learn how to take care of themselves. Our jobs as parents is to prepare them for adulthood not make them dependent on us the rest of their and our lives. At some point I want my time to be mostly mine again! Don’t get me wrong, I love my son more than anything or anyone in this world, but I don’t want to take care of him for the rest of my life even if he will always be the center of my world. LOL At some point the rolls may be reversed and he mayl have to take care of me! ;)

  2. Judy Herring says:

    I have two adult children, daughters, ages 21 and 24. When they were little, I picked them up when they fell, I made their food, helped them with their bath and get dressed. As they grew, I taught them to pick themselves up, showed them the basics around the kitchen, would ask them if they bathed and they learned at a very early age what they liked to wear (they are girls afterall..) Was it hard to see them fall, you bet it was, did food burn ontop of the stove, it sure did, did they have body oder sometimes, oh yes…and their clothing didn’t always match, so what?
    It is very easy for us parents to continue to step into our kid’s lives, but it won’t help them learn if we continue to do everything for them. If we keep on doing things for our kids, as they get older, it will become much more difficult for them to accept the consequences of their actions. Over the years, there have been several movies where characters live at home as adults…and one very popular TV show “The Big Bang Theory” has one it’s main characters, Howard, who plays a highly educated Astrophysicist, still living at home with his mother!! Ah…what kind of message is that sending to young adults?? I look upon my role as a parent as to teach, guide and love….

  3. Eric says:

    For the most part, I agree. The best analogy I can think of is a new bird breaking through the egg shell. If the mother bird, or anyone, were to help the bird break through the shell, the bird would not develop the muscle strength to survive. It may be hard to watch the baby bird struggle with the shell, but it’s a necessary part of life for the bird. Likewise, in humans, our hardships during development make us stronger and better equipped later in life.

    That said, how the hell is an 18 year old supposed to be able to pay for college? You’re looking at a good 25k / year. What part time job pays that much? Parents sacrificing their own finances to give their children the opportunity to go to a better school doesn’t exactly fall into the coddling behavior you’re describing here. Sure, make your kid pay for his own car, gas and food by taking a job. But forcing him/her to pay for college is a bit unreasonable.

    There’s a fine line between being a good parent and overparenting. Help your kids with their homework, but don’t do it for them. It takes some critical thinking skills to see the difference in many cases. Sadly, those skills aren’t valued enough in our culture.

    • Here’s the thing about paying for college: they may not be able to afford the whole ticket, but how about contributing toward the cost? If they take out a loan to pay for their books, for example, they’ll have a little skin in the game vs. having a free ride. I know it was different in my day, but I took out loans and paid for everything myself. But I know parents who could afford to pay the whole way for their kids, but insisted they get summer jobs, for example, to have their own spending money.

  4. Chris Munson says:

    Your rant misses the point. When children, and their parents are raised in a culture of entitlement the children expect such treatment, and the parents feel obliged to provide the goodies it is generally agreed is their due. No iPad4? How can anyone survive in such a deprived environment? Graduated from college, and you can’t get that job as an assistant curator for the Metropolitan Museum because you have 1500 other Art Majors in competition with you? Well, you just move in with the parents until your dream job opens up. Don’t compromise. You have a “right” to your dreams, no matter the surrounding social and economic conditions in the real world. Take a position with Target as a sales rep. while waiting? Horrors! Can’t do that. It’s demeaning. Here in Illinois, our Democrat Governor is having meetings with College students telling them it’s all the fault of those greedy public employees who are sucking up all the money for pensions that’s keeping them from getting a loan, while ignoring the fact that it was the legislature’s failure to fund the system that accounts for most of the problem. Promises lead to expectations, and we’re a society that over the past 50 years made promises leading to expectations that we can’t afford to fulfill. The circumstances you describe are a result of attitudes and expectations fostered for the past half century. Something’s gotta give and it’s coming sooner than anybody thought it would.

    Merry Christmas. Oops…PC Error…Happy Holidays.

  5. ANGEL says:

    Paid for my education with scholarships/loans .. paid for my son’s 4 yr education but it was his responsibility to work summers for his spending money .. when he failed a course and had to extend for an additional semester the full expense was HIS.

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