I read an delightful article the other day in the November 30th edition of Time Magazine with the title of "Can These Parents Be Saved?" In this article, it argues that parents have gone too far in the bid to make sure their kids are safe. Dubbed "helicopter parents", this article describes parents who hover over every move that their children make, jumping up to save them before a child can hurt themselves in any way. With behaviours like advocating for removal of school playgrounds because their children might fall and get hurt to purchasing knee pads for babies who are learning to crawl and walk, many parents are going way overboard.
All I have to say is "THANK YOU Time Magazine!" In my book I talk about the damage that this over-protecting can do to our children. Our brains develop and grow based on experiences that we have. The neurons in our brains make connections and develop as we go through our lives, and the fuel for these connections is experience.
I will never forget, early in my career as a restaurant manager there was a waitress that worked for me who was consistently late, rude to customers, and would often call in sick for her shifts. One day she was arguing with a customer about the difference between what he thought he ordered and what was in front of him. When she used some colourful language to describe his resemblance to the back end of a donkey, I decided that I had had enough and fired her on the spot. The next day, this waitress's father took it upon himself to come and visit me at the restaurant to tell me how I had made the wrong decision. He demanded that I hire her back. The waitress was 23 years old. And daddy came to save her.
This moment has stuck with me for all of these years because I was blown away that a woman of 23 could not come and do the same thing for herself. She had apparently never learned to do this on her own. I will often ask parents, "When do you plan on letting your kid grow up and learn how to deal with a little frustration? When you are dead? It's a little late then, don't you think?" It is imperative as parents that we find ways of allowing our children the opportunity to learn about the realities of life and allow them to have to deal with the pain of life. Most of us have had our hearts broken at some point in life, so why are we trying to stop our sons and daughters from dating that loser who we know will crush them? Because we don't want them to get hurt? Give me a break! The last time I checked, nobody on this planet has a "FRAGILE. Handle with care" sticker plastered on them anywhere. It is time to let go folks or we are going to have a generation of "teacups who break at the slightest amount of pressure".