I have a fear about parenting. It doesn’t have so much to do with my specific context of parenting. It has more to do with what parenting will look like in the future.
The pendulum likes to swing. Sometimes, in response to a particular error or evil, we like to carry things to the complete other end of the spectrum, thus creating an entirely new error or evil.
The error and evil that many kids have been growing up under over the best several years is what has come to be known as Helicopter Parenting. And make no mistake, this approach is erroneous at best and sometimes even evil. It has left many kids with no idea how to navigate through the complexities of adulthood once mom and dad and their money aren’t around anymore. To put it another way, it has left us with thousands upon thousands of people in their late 20s and early 30s who are still kids. But, on the bright side, those kids do have a ton of trophies for their efforts or lack thereof.
Here’s where my fear comes in. I’m afraid that in response to this terribly flawed parenting technique, many moms and dads will go to the other extreme. So rather than Helicopter Parents, we’ll see a rise in Green Mamba parents.
The Green Mamba is a deadly African snake. Now I don’t know this from personal experience and I don’t care to but I’m told that the Green Mamba has nothing to do with the tiny green killers inside her eggs once they have hatched. Nice knowing you, kids. Watch out for farmers with shovels. See you in another life. Good luck!
Our kids do not need us to hover over every aspect of their lives. But they do need us. They do not need a trophy just for participating in a sport. But they do need to be praised when they do something right. Our kids do not need us showing up with them on job interviews but they do need us preparing them for when that day comes. And such preparation requires our presence.
There is a difference between neglect and training our kids to learn responsibility and how to take calculated risks on their own. I’m afraid that many parents aren’t seeing the difference. For them, neglect is rationalized as preparing their kids for the real world. This does great harm to kids. Sure, maybe they’ll learn how to fend for themselves but without parental encouragement, approval and grace at the appropriate times they’ll go looking for those things elsewhere. This never ends well.
By all means, let your kids play in the backyard while you take a nap. Let them take the 50 yard walk from your car to their school on their own. Tell them the score when they lose and let them know why not everyone gets a trophy.
But don’t be afraid to hug them. Ask God to give you wisdom so that you’ll know when it actually is a good time for you to step in for their protection. Reward them for a job well done.
The results of Helicopter Parenting are 30 year old kids who are lost when it comes to making decisions and takings risks.
The results of Green Mamba Parenting are young men and women who go through life angrily looking for the approval and affection that they never got at home.
So don’t be a Helicopter Parent.
And don’t be a Green Mamba Parent.
Just be a parent.