Raising Bulls in the Teacup Generation

I like to think that I’m oh-so-sure about my parenting technique, but I certainly have moments where I just don’t know.  What I often question myself on is  whether or not I’m too hands off with my kids.  When I was growing up, my parents were the opposite of my friends’ helicopter parents.  After breakfast, my brother & I were out the door, getting into stuff & getting dirty.  We walked to school & back unchaperoned.   We rode bikes all over the place.  We were home in time for dinner (most of the time) & almost nothing happened to us.

But a lot of people say that we live in a different world now & that children need to be monitored, watched, guarded.  I don’t know if this is true or if the media hypes it up more.  Or maybe parents aren’t teaching their children some necessary street smarts.  I don’t know, but I do know that an awful lot of kids grow up to be afraid, demanding, entitled & simply unmotivated.  I don’t want my children to be like that.

My boys are currently 2.5 years & 1 year.  I close the gate across the driveway & let them play outside while I wash dishes, bake bread, or complete other tasks in the kitchen were I can see them out the window.  I let my little one fall down & I let the big one figure out things on his own.  I feel that freedom with responsibility is good for them & will help them grow into stronger adults.  But am I starting too young?

The family went to the a mall this afternoon that has a kids’ “Playtown” with various critters & slides they can climb on.  I don’t typically like such things, but it was bitterly cold & they needed to burn off some steam.  We took them inside the enclosure, removed their shoes (per the posted rules) & let them loose!  But as my husband & I sat, craning our necks to try & keep an eye on them both, we noticed a trend in the “helicopter parenting” style.  Most of the parents sat along the edges minding their children, reprimanding them cautiously for not sharing, & quietly flinching when their child tumbled backwards on the foam mat.  While most parents were fairly hands off, there were several who were very hands on.  They literally held their tot’s wee hand through the whole play yard, assisted them up the steps of the slide (and down again), and kept snapping fingers or clapping hands to get the little one’s attention focused on some sort of play thing.  These children all looked over stimulated & stressed.  I could tell that they weren’t having fun.  Besides, with all these “big people” in the way, I couldn’t see around them to keep an eye on my own kids!

What I noticed about these helicopters was that most of them were not the actual parents; they were grandparents!  Now I know why so many folks from my generation are having such a hard time getting out into the world.  They too were latched to their parents’ hands, never learning how to explore, problem solve, or go down a slide on their own.  And apparently, the helicoptering is a trait that’s being passed down.  You raise the way you were raised & you grow to fit your world.  If a parent shrinks the world down to the length of their arm, wouldn’t the child’s growth be stunted?

I also wonder how my children’s world will be with so many helicoptered peers.  How will they affect my children & the way they choose to raise their own?  Will my children end up being the bulls running through a china teacup shop?  I’ll probably remain more on the “free range” side, but I’ll keep wondering until they are done growing & set out on their own.

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One response to “Raising Bulls in the Teacup Generation

  1. I struggle with this very thing. I’m a bit of a worry wart when it comes to my kids. Montessori did a good job of adjusting my barometer. And now I’m reading a great book, Boys Should Be Boys, that has helped me to see that allowing for a more free-range kid is what grows a well-adjusted, happy, healthy adult. You’re on the right track, mom. Hang in there!

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