"Marsha Jacobson does parents a great favor."
February 8th, 2011 ¦ Marsha Jacobson -
Has anyone noticed how parenting ideas swing back and forth over the generations, but when we’re in it, we somehow fail to recognize this fact? Take independence for example. In my grandparents’ day, children of five were expected to pull their weight with responsibilities that would make us gasp today. The generation after that seemed to mollycoddle their young. My mother was brought, daily, a hot lunch to school. I grew up thinking that parenting meant taking care of children as much as possible, for as long as possible. But of course, the trend has transitioned during my parenting lifetime. Terms like “helicopter parents” are thrown out smirkily by those who feel that they are raising their children to be strong independent human beings, while the rest of us feel a little guilty every time we edit our child’s essay or do their laundry, but we do it anyway.
I feel like taking a stand on this. Is independence really so wonderful? Don’t we also, at the same time, value our children’s ability to be in touch with their emotions and their capacity to connect with others? I believe that a certain amount of dependence is natural and necessary in all of us. In our world today, it scares me to think how easy it is for any of us to become lost in cyberspace, connecting with others by BBM, Facebook or email. In relation to this dependence, is not our hovering over our children at least of the human kind?
I think that a lot of people believe that children who are overly dependent on their parents/families will achieve less, think less critically and have less successful relationships. Is this really true? Speaking personally, and as a definite “helicopter parent,” I can say with conviction, that my children, at least, have proved this premise wrong. From my perspective, the only thing that has resulted from “dependence” has been family cohesiveness, a sense of security and an overall happiness with what we all share.
I believe in moderation. I’m not suggesting that I want to live my children’s lives for them, but I will continue to, happily and guilt-free, take their outstretched arms when they are offered.