ENGAGE: How Do We Engage Our Parenting?

How well are you doing?

To gauge how well we are doing at encouraging our child’s autonomy and development as they grow up, we must look at our parenting. Parents are getting a bad rep these days. First helicopter parents, then lawnmower parents, and now free-range parents! But those aren’t you, right?!

Let's find out...

Helicopter Parenting

We’ve all heard the term “helicopter parent”, but what does it mean and how is it affecting our children?

We don’t want our child to be unhappy, so just like we did when they were little, we attempt to protect them from the blows that come their way and cushion them from every fall. We hover over them, ready to swoop in and save them from any difficulties they may face. This prevents students from being able to deal with loss, failure, and disappointment –  situations we are all bound to face in life. We also prevent them from developing conflict-management skills by stepping in and “protecting” them, thus limiting their ability to resolve difficulties amongst peers and authority figures. We also want to offer our student all available opportunities, so sometimes we do more for them than we should.

This can lead to students lacking a healthy work ethic, as well as the ability to perform basic life skills that are required in today’s workforce. When we deprive students of the opportunity to learn valuable life lessons through natural consequences and task development, we limit their emotional intelligence. So how can we equip students to solve problems, make mistakes, learn from them, and try again? We allow them to do these things on their own, naturally building self-assurance, competence, autonomy, and self-value.

Lawnmower Parenting

“Lawnmower parents go to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle, or failure. Instead of preparing children for challenges, they mow obstacles down so kids won’t experience them in the first place.” – Anonymous Teacher

Lawnmowers are the parents who will do anything to make sure their kids don’t have to deal with any type of struggle. They mow down any obstacles, hurdles, or road bumps that might get in their child’s way.

Effects of Helicopter and Lawnmower Parenting on Students

The result is that young adults are disadvantaged because they do not have the right attitudes, habits, skills, or expectations to help them succeed in their higher education or career.

It also causes…

  • Higher levels of depression and anxiety (60.5%, 8% consider suicide)
  • Feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities (84%)
  • Struggles with self-esteem & problem-solving – constantly receiving messages that they aren’t good enough to do things on their own
  • Lack of personal motivation or drive
  • Inability to make decisions without the guidance of others
  • Fear of failure – students lack the belief in themselves to do things on their own
  • Increased dependence & diminished decision-making skills
  • Entitlement – students don’t have to work for what they want/desire
  • Students feel lost without someone to tell them what to do or where to go
  • Lack of coping skills and empowerment
  • Less long-term success – low self-esteem, lower future earnings

(paraphrased – Stahl, 2015)

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