Parenting is a challenge, especially in today’s post-pandemic world. Raising my three daughters was certainly not easy.
I don’t claim all the credit for their successes, but all three grew up to be high achievers. Susan is the CEO of YouTubeJanet is a doctor and Anne is the co-founder and CEO of 23andMe. They have risen to the top of extremely competitive, male-dominated professions.
Based on my experience and research, I believe “helicopter parenting” is the most toxic.
Helicopter parenting — sometimes called “snow parenting” — is when you continually remove obstacles so your child doesn’t face challenges and disappointments.
This form of excessive participation does not allow children; you’re basically doing everything for them and making sure their every need is met even before you know they have a need.
Learn says it also compromises children’s ability to develop skills for self-control, problem-solving, self-regulating conflict and creating an identity separate from their parents.
Helicopter parents have the best of intentions, but the results are the opposite of what they want – they give birth to children who are afraid to take risks, always need help, and lack creativity.
My friend Maye Musk is a successful model and Elon Musk’s motherAgree on the harmful effects of helicopter parenting.
She never checks the kids’ homework. She can not. She is working five jobs for a living. When the children’s homework required parental consent, she asked them to practice her signature so they could sign it for her.
“I don’t have time,” she told me, “and that’s their job.”
That’s exactly what kids need today – not to be controlled or overprotected, but allowed to take charge of their own lives.
On the other hand, parents should not go to the other extreme. You don’t send kids out alone to shop when they’re five, or expect them to make dinner when they’re 10. Give them age-appropriate challenges.
The goal is for them to take pride in the work they do, a job that is theirs and their own. They will build skills towards independence and also learn how to help people around the house.
For example, it could be cooking in the kitchen. We all cook. Teach your kids how to make their own breakfast. They can pour cereal and milk. Older children can make scrambled eggs. Or they can all learn to make salads. It’s simple: Wash the lettuce, cut a tomato or an avocado, add the sauce… and voilà!
If your child has never cooked before, they may not feel capable of cooking anything without supervision. Most kids don’t know how to do anything for themselves. I wish I was joking, but I’m not.
Both parents and teachers can empower children to be independent thinkers, work with peers, and build self-confidence.
I recommend you to follow TIPS, TIPS, TIPSacronyms for Trust, Respect, Independence, Collaboration and Kindness:
- Trust: Trust has to start with us, the parents. When we are confident in our choices, we can trust our children to take the necessary steps to empower.
- Respect: Every child has a gift, and it is our responsibility to nurture that gift. This is the opposite of telling them who to be, what career to pursue and what their life will be like.
- Independence: This is based on a solid foundation of trust and respect. Children who are truly independent are capable of coping with adversity, failure, and boredom – all unavoidable aspects of life.
- Cooperation: Collaboration means working together as a family, in the classroom or at work. For parents, that means encouraging children to contribute to discussions, decisions, and even discipline.
- Goodness: True kindness includes gratitude and forgiveness, service to others, and awareness of the world outside of yourself.
Give yourself a break and stop over-monitoring your child. Let them help and lead. They will appreciate it, grow up to be more independent and believe in themselves.
Start by letting your kids make decisions about what they want to do this weekend, maybe even plan for the whole family. Imagine how empowered they would feel.
Esther Wojcicki is an educator, journalist, and bestselling author “How to raise successful people.” She is also a co-founder Tract, where she brings her student-centered teaching philosophy to classrooms around the world. Follow her on Twitter @EstherWojcicki.