Helicopter parent, ME?

Let's hear it for helicopter parenting.  Well, maybe not.

I admit, I'm one who practices it.  My son is nearly 12 and I'm still trying to arrange play dates (only now they call it "hanging out").

I'm obsessed with his homework and don't relax till it's done (yes, I let him do it). Also, who he's talking to on Skype.  And, I admit it, try to get him to eat his vegetables.

But an essay in The New York Times' Sunday Review stopped me dead in my tracks.  Eli J. Finkel and Grainne M. Fitzsimons quoted studies that have found that the more helicopter parenting we do, "the less satisfied college students feel with their lives."

I'm a little ways away from college but still it got to me.  The two reported that "certain forms of help can dilute recipients’ sense of accountability for their own success."  Duh.  If Mom and Dad do everything, why  bother?

Now I'm not nearly as bad as the parents who, trying to get their kids into top colleges, send cookies spelling out deans' names, or email them every day, or even, offer orthopedic surgery (as another article pointed out), or six-figure checks.  But I could probably see myself hanging over Phillip's neck as he applies and saying, "Don't forget to mention you were on the school newspaper in fifth grade."

So where does helping stop, and hurting start, as the authors asked?  Because I'm a Type A personality, that's hard for me to answer.  I'm so overbearing in my own life -- emailing potential clients every week, putting links to my essays on Facebook every day, even managing to raise my running mileage from a little over two to four miles and demanding I do it every day (oh, those hills!).

But in the end, I can no more stop helping my child than, well, meditate (been there, done that, forget it). I guess we all want what's best for our children, but who decides what that is?  I'd love my son to be an athlete, and for a while, we tried to push him.  But that's just not who he is and we have to accept that he's just a reasonably smart kid who does well on tests and loves computers.  Not playing a sport may hurt him later in life, I know.  But we can't make him into a tennis star (even though my husband's sure trying). Though he does love soccer, and is pretty good at it, but Larry, a dentist, worries about him losing a tooth.  Ah, helicopter parents, unite.


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