Sunday, 18 May 2008

Being a good parent

"Sometimes being a good parent is knowing when not to parent. You have to step out of the way and let life happen to your kids." 'Norah Walker' from the first series of 'Brothers and Sisters'


Oh, how this struck a chord with me. We are so busy trying to protect them and yet sometimes we have to let them make their own mistakes and then support them as they try to work their way back onto the straight and narrow. Learning as they go. It is so hard and yet so important.

As parents, we spend time sitting with them helping with their homework and generally interacting with them in a way that our own parents never would have. Are we, by definition, thereby stopping them from gaining the necessary tools for independence?

By continually protecting them from the 'bad things in life', are we making it harder for them to deal with the dangers of the outside world? Are we stopping them from learning how to deal with life's rougher elements and unpleasantnesses?

I don't have any of the answers. I'm just asking the questions?



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11 comments:

Suzanne Portnoy said...

Personally, I think there's a lot to be said for letting kids learn that it's part of life to be bored, to be scared, to just be. I think alot of parents feel they need to be one person entertainment centres, not just protecting them from the more unpleasant aspects of life but making sure they are stimulated all the time. There's a lot to be said for leaving kids to find their own fun or turning off the TV and having a conversation rather than finding something for them to do. I think we're going to find in the future alot of parents out there are not preparing their kids for real life but for a world that doesn't exist where everyone is lovely and pleasant and helpful. I may not be the most traditional parent in the world but I like to think that I give my kids a wider view of the world than most and that can only be a good thing.

Cate said...

This is a common cause of debate in our house. Because I grew up in such a chaotic and unstable environment, I tend to bend over backwards for my kids hoping that they will never feel the insecurities that often plague me. But I do wonder if perhaps I am doing damage of a different kind. My upbringing forced me to grow up pretty damn quick and I know that I can handle just about anything. And I wonder if I am denying my children the experiences that will teach them to face life head on because I protect them too much. I wish I had an answer but I don't.

Cate xxx

Anonymous said...

From Polar:
As we have talked a little about this, I find we are attempting to correct some of the items, the second time around. That said, natural consequences have been the most effective, with our oldest. One of the Most effective was getting a speeding ticket, from our neighbor, who is a Trooper, her first year driving. She came home balling her eyes out, thinking she was “dead”. All her mom could do was LAUGH. She herself had gotten one about 5 days before.
In the past 9 years, she has not gotten any traffic violations!

Ro said...

It's an incredibly difficult path to negotiate.

How can we not want to protect our children from the harshness of the world, to make their path through life easier than ours were, to give them the best possible start in life?

Yet at the same time we need to remind them, as my parents reminded me frequently, that life is not fair, that life will not always take into account what they want, that the world doesn't revolve around them.

I do my best but still feel inadequate to the task. I take some comfort from one simple belief: that the only parents who don't feel inadequate are those who just don't care!

Fat Controller said...

It is the art of letting them go, a little bit at a time. Trusting to their common sense and what you have managed to instil in them, but at the same time letting them know that you are always there for them.

Example: Daughter is 16. She wanted to go to a club in the city on Friday night with some friends to see her current favourite band. This club has several times come under attack from a neo-nazi faction of local football supporters. Friday night the local team was parading through the city having just won the league championship so the fans were out in their thousands. Do forbid her to go? No, of course not. Do we worry about her safety? A little. Were we prepared to drop everything at a moment's notice and go and fetch her if need be? Of course.

Young people today at least have one thing we never had: The mobile phone.

Lady in red said...

I will never forget my father telling me that we can't always be there to stop them from falling but we can be there to pick them up.

A few years back I asked my health visitor for some advice as ET was such a miserable child. She told me to stop trying to make him happy. I should tell him that if he wanted to be miserable that was up to him. I did that he stopped being miserable and is growing into a lovely person. He is finding his own way, making his own decisions with the knowledge that his mother will back him up whatever he does. He also knows he can come to me when things are not going right, I won't criticise just help him work on what he is going to do next.

marianne said...

We are definitely a generation of helicopter parents, hovering protectively over our offspring. I think it's very much a reaction to the sometimes more than healthy neglect we experienced from our own parents. Finding the fine line, and gradually letting them find their own way, is such a challenge.

Ro said...

Marianne ... I wrote something a while back on the subject of helicopter parents. It's a catchy term and there's no doubt that the propensity to behave in that way is more prevalent now than it used to be. However, there have always been some parents who have behaved like that and the long-term damage they can cause has always been visible.

Vi said...

All I know is I worry I don't spend enough time with my boys. Next thing you know, they are all grown up and want nothing to do with you.

Mr. DNA said...

Yes, no, I don't know either.

Redhead Editor said...

"Hi, my name is Redheadeditor, and I'm a helicoptor parent." It is so hard to sit back and watch a "train wreck" if we can stop it. But how do our kids learn to stop the next "train wreck" if we keep helping them? I've got no answers. Remember, I'm the one who followed my college kid to college. This one hit way too close to home. My "homeless" kid will find a place to stay while I have a nervous breakdown over this incident. Why am I torturing myself? Bet she doesn't wait till the last minute ever again when it comes to housing.

And I think it does come from the "hands off" technique our parents' generation used. But I sure was prepared for life a lot better than my kids are. And when you don't have a lot of money to throw at your kids, you have a tendency to suffocate to show your love. Well, at least I do.

Are there meds for helicoptor parenting??? I think I'm in need of some serious medication!