Stop “helicopter parenting” and do something more valuable with your newfound free time.
Julie Lythcott-Haims, a former Administrator at Stanford University, has written a book on the perils of helicopter parenting. She recently told the Washington Post that she was motivated to write the book because of “rising depression and other mental health problems in young people,” which she partly attributes to helicopter parents making their children “miserable.”
In “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success,” Ms. Lythcott-Haims argues that helicopter parenting “leave[s] young adults without the strengths of skill, will and character that are needed to know themselves and to craft a life.” As she told the Post, “[o]ur job as a parent is to put ourselves out of a job.”
Although I too am concerned about the harm to children that results from helicoptering parenting, I am equally concerned about what helicopter parents should be doing if they succeed in becoming unemployed, as Ms. Lythcott-Haims advocates. As I have previously noted, parents who truly care about their children’s future need to see the forest for the trees and act accordingly. If we do not change the current trajectory of this country, we are going to hand our children a world of higher taxes and fewer services, larger student loan debts and fewer good jobs, emerging enemies and forgotten friends, and larger collections of meaningless trophies and fewer species.
So, here is my plea for my fellow parents: Instead of doing your child’s homework sometime this week, calling a teacher to argue for a better grade on a test, or scheduling yet another extracurricular activity, take twenty minutes to write your two Senators and ask them what they are doing to address one big issue you care deeply about.
If nothing comes to mind, here are some suggestions:
- How will they increase discretionary spending on infrastructure and education without increasing our deficit and driving up our debt?
- What infrastructure and education projects provide the greatest return on our investment and thus should receive greater funding?
- Which projects produce the lowest return and thus should be reformed or discontinued?
- How will they increase economic growth without additional deficit spending?
- What can the federal government do to encourage, incentivize, or require corporations hoarding trillions of dollars, much of it overseas, to spend some of that money on research and development and creating new jobs in the U.S.?
- What more can the U.S. do to prevent the poaching of African elephants and the loss of polar bear habitat? Are we powerless to stop their potential extinction?
- How will they reform entitlement programs to ensure their solvency without imposing substantial tax increases on our children?
Our supremely well-educated and well-rounded children are not necessarily going to grow-up in a world that will allow them to make the most of their energies and talents. A few healthy trees may not flourish in a sickly forest. For the sake of our children, let’s start tending to the forest.