I’m not sure why this article suddenly went viral, considering it was published in 2004, but “A Nation of Wimps” by Hara Estroff Marano has been making its way around social media this week. Published in Psychology Today, it discusses how micromanaging our children is negatively affecting childhood development. If you haven’t read it, I highly encourage you to do so. In my opinion, the article has a lot of merit.
Hubster and I have a unique perspective on how helicopter parenting affects children in their transition to adulthood. We live on a university campus, where Hubster works as a student affairs professional in residence life. Just in the five years or so since we’ve completed our undergraduate education, we’ve noticed that students are becoming increasingly unable to solve their own conflicts.
Helicopter parents hover over their children, solving their conflicts for them or steering them to avoid conflict entirely. As a result, children don’t learn to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills that adulthood requires. Once these kids are out on their own, they’re incapable of working through the conflict that arises in normal relationships – with significant others, roommates, friends.
The end goal of parenting is to raise independent people who are capable of making their own decisions. As parents, we can instill ethics, morals and values in our children; but we must allow them the latitude to fail. Failure is an invaluable experience that forms the way we respond to adversity. As a society, we’re robbing our children of the opportunity to develop their self-esteem and independence in the name of protecting them from…everything.
My point of view may classify me as a “free-range parent,” but I think it’s critical to our children’s development to allow them to figure things out on their own. To play independently, problem solve and be given the freedom to gain self-sufficiency and self-confidence. We’re providing a disservice to our children by not allowing them to fail.