The AJC has an interesting story about an Easter egg hunt canceled due to out-of-control parents who jumped the gun to ensure their kids got the eggs. In the piece, the canceled hunt is used as a metaphor for the overly involved helicopter parents who want their children to win at everything and who don’t understand boundaries.
(Personal note: It only took one public Easter egg hunt for me to never go to one again. The kids and parents were so aggressive that I feared a toddler trampling. I found it easier to buy plastic eggs and strew them about my lawn.)
I have been thinking about appropriate parent involvement this week after reading some of the long tirades from Alpharetta parents about the deposed student body president at Alpharetta High. Parents are entitled to post that his lawsuit was baseless and complain that it besmirched the high school’s good name. But the rancor and the details about this young man’s purported failings as a student, school president and scholar went way too far.
I took the offending comments down as I don’t think adults should anonymously attack a teenager who has put his own name behind his allegations.
I wonder about parents who are so involved in their children’s lives that they go online and post long critiques of a classmate, down to his grades. Reminds me of a friend whose daughter won a prestigious college scholarship, beating out 1,000 applicants, including several classmates from her own high school. My friend learned later that the mother of one of those classmates sent a letter to the scholarship committee contending that her child was the more deserving and listing all the deficiencies of the winner, including the fact that she was late with class projects.
I grapple myself with how involved to get in my kids’ school lives, from the simple things — bringing a forgotten lunchbox to school — to the more complex issues — reading over an essay that they wrote and offering advice. I only have two still young enough for me to hold any sway, and neither are interested in having me read over their work or check their homework. My son, in particular, reminds me all the time that the essay is supposed to be his work and that I should not even change a comma.
That hunt was over in seconds, to the consternation of egg-less tots and their own parents. Too many parents had jumped a rope set up to allow only children into Bancroft Park in a historic area of Colorado Springs.
Parenting observers cite the cancellation as a prime example of so-called “helicopter parents” — those who hover over their children and are involved in every aspect of their children’s lives — sports, school, and increasingly work — to ensure that they don’t fail, even at an Easter egg hunt. “They couldn’t resist getting over the rope to help their kids,” said Ron Alsop, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and author of “The Trophy Kids Grow Up,” which examines the “millennial children” generation.
“That’s the perfect metaphor for millennial children. They (parents) can’t stay out of their children’s lives. They don’t give their children enough chances to learn from hard knocks, mistakes.”
Alsop and others say the parenting phenomenon began in earnest when Baby Boomers who decorated their cars with “Baby on Board” signs in the 1980s began having children. It has prompted at least two New York companies to establish “take your parent to work day” for new recruits as parents remain involved even after their children become adults.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog