Helicopter Parent, Tiger-mama, Free-Ranger, oh my!
There are alot of labels going around these days about parenting. A lot of hoopla about the style of parenting someone chooses.
I actually don’t know what to think of it all. There are merits and drawbacks to each of the categories.
If I stay close to my child because, let’s face it, it’s become a dangerous world out there for a vulnerable child – all the creeps and nutcases around, willing to snatch a child if given the slightest opportunity to do so – does this mean that I’m a helicopter parent? Does this mean I stifle my children’s development, as some of the helicoptering detractors claim?
Or does it mean I’m a reasonably cautious and savvy parent who prefers her children’s safety over being able to read the latest NY Times bestseller at the playground while my children play?
Are the parents who insist their children acquire some level of self-discipline in their studies, and aim to achieve excellent scores, Tiger parents – the strict disciplinarians and the supposed buzz-kills of childhood?
Or are they doing something that more parents should do instead of depending only on the school to not only teach everything the child needs to succeed in life – but seem to think the lessons learned in school need no reinforcement at home. And then they blame the schools and teachers for the sub-standard ratings the school subsequently gets.
And then there are the Free-Rangers – are they oblivious to the reality of this dangerous world – or brave in encouraging their children’s fearlessness to explore the world around them on their own terms?
Honestly, I don’t believe any of these labels and countless others that I haven’t mentioned, really define who we are as parents, and we shouldn’t confine ourselves to what the majority of society deems appropriate behaviors attached to each label.
Parenting is a lot more complicated than that, and the truth is: At the end of the day, the responsibility for what happens to your child lies squarely at the feet of Mom and Dad. The buck stops here. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
The government can try to interfere all it likes, the judgmental neighbors, the teachers, heck – even the postman – can have all the opinions they like, but they will not be taking ultimate responsibility for the results of those opinions if applied to our children.
Parents have peer pressure, too. And it can be darn hard to resist. For all of our maternal instincts or parental intuition, we all carry some amount of self-doubt. With the stakes so high – the future happiness of our child – how could we NOT worry whether or not we are doing a good job raising them?
Right now the aim of schools is to raise someone who can be gainfully employed, and perhaps contribute in some altruistic way to society. Schools don’t educate children for being able to be good parents themselves in the future.
That’s our job – we, the parents. And no, that ‘babysit an egg for a week’ project in high-school doesn’t count. 🙂
Most parents flail a bit in the beginning – for whatever theory they’ve learned, when it meets real-life application, it can be scary.
We license people to drive cars, prepare food in public venues, trade stocks, etc… how much more important is it to be a competant parent? And we can’t depend on the government to decide the standards that should be met – that’s the challenge of parenthood every parent must rise to.
I didn’t intend to get preachy here, but I’ve lost count of the people with ‘helpful advice’ or outright criticism of how I do my job: Parenthood. It’s usually enough to tell them: “And are YOU going to take responsibility for the results if I do what you keep pushing me to do? Are you going to take care of my child for the rest of their life if things take a turn for the worst?”
The answer is always “No.”
So whatever type of parent you are – whether falling under a labeled category or not – if you are convinced that you are doing the best that you are able for your kids, and are open minded to the possibility that there is always more to be learned about parenting, and are not causing harm to your kids, then stand your ground and don’t mind the labels.
We’ve got a heavy-duty job on our shoulders – but with all the love in our parental hearts, I think we’ll manage pretty good!
What is your parenting style? Does it have a label? Or do you march to the beat of a different drummer? Please comment and let me know your best tips for parenting! 🙂