Aug 202013 20 Responses

Parenting: Too Involved, Not Involved Enough

I don’t believe in helicopter parenting.

My kid was the one screaming as I ripped his fingers from his mother’s shirt and forced him into the arms of his kindergarten teacher.

He has to experience life which unfortunately includes difficult moments in which his loving parents will not be with him (and in his eyes will actually abandon him).

While there are a few things I can rescue him from, most of life will have to be confronted head-on. I’ll be there to either cheer him up or cheer him on, but I won’t live his life for him.

Helicopter parenting isn’t healthy for either the parent or the child.

Yet the answer to helicopter parenting isn’t free-range parenting.

While I respect the idea of free-range parenting, the fact is that we do live in different times. While “all of us” might have survived walking to school by ourselves, riding in cars without seat belts, and having very little parental oversight until after dark, many kids suffered because of it.

We live in a different day and part of that difference is the knowledge we have gained which causes us to raise our children differently than we were raised.

I might have survived riding in the back of a pick-up truck, but that doesn’t mean it was wise or that I should let my child do the same.

It seems to me that many of today’s parents are both too involved and not involved enough.

We are too involved in many things which do not deserve our attention and we are not involved enough in the things which desperately demand our attention.

Many parents are too involved in:

     Sports: Instead of supporting a child’s sports endeavors, most parents are driving their child’s sports endeavors. I regularly ask the children of my church what is most important to their parents and their parents would be shocked how many of those kids answer “sports.” While sports are great, whether or not my child gets significant playing time is not the most important part of their day. If parents do not make a conscious effort to devalue sports, their children will assume their parents over-value sports.

     Grades: Notice this does not say education. Parents are not involved enough in education, but are too involved in grades. There is a joke which teachers tell: Fifty years ago if a student got a bad grade, the parent would ask the teacher, “What’s wrong with the student?” Today if a student gets a bad grade, the parent asks the student, “What’s wrong with the teacher?” Parents are far too worried about outcomes and not worried enough about processes.

     Drama: Many parents are far too quick to engage in childhood and teenage drama. Instead of assisting a child to navigate through the relational issues of life, parents try to solve the problem. Parental involvement in this area is rarely healthy. Generally speaking, a parent should attempt to stay out of relational drama with between children. Guide your child. Confront your child with their behavior. Encourage them when life is tough, but do not interject yourself into their relational issues.

Many parents are not involved enough in:

Spiritual development: It’s sad to consider how little effort the average parent gives to the spiritual development of their child. There has never been a day in which so many resources were available (Click Here or Click Here) for parents to instruct their kids in faith. Yet the vast majority of parents never make any effort in influencing their children’s belief system. If parents would put the effort into spiritual development which we often put into sports, the world would be a drastically different place.

Education: Notice this does not say grades. The education of a child is the parents’ responsibility. While the state plays a role in the education of my children, I am the one who has the ultimate responsibility. Parents often confuse involvement in education with oversight of grades. Grades are important, but education is more important. Being involved in a child’s education isn’t even primarily about school. What happens at school is just a fraction of a child’s education. Too often, parents are guilty of expecting someone else to educate their children.

Oversight: The most shocking trend I have seen over the past decade in parenting is a laissez-fair attitude from parents regarding who a child is talking with, who their friends are, online activity, etc. While I’m not a helicopter parent, I do want my children to know that I will be hovering over their cell-phone records, online histories, who their friends are, and who they are spending time with. I am their watchdog in these areas and I will not apologize for doing my job. Too many parents are either naive or ignorant about the dangers which are present for today’s children. Love everybody, but trust nobody when it comes to your kids.

Parenting is a tough job. Every parent faces a constant struggle to find the right balance between providing our children with freedom while at the same time being an active presence within their lives.

My belief is that too often we are too involved in many areas and not involved enough in others.

What do you think?

20 Responses to Parenting: Too Involved, Not Involved Enough
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