By Nithya Sundaram
Two types of parents seem to be everywhere in every place I have worked. There are, of course, some very sensible parents and their children grow up into responsible and dignified people. Among the others, there are two types.
The first is the `helicopter parent’, who hovers around their children all the time, watching them closely. The child does her homework; they are there checking her work ensuring that it is perfect. The child studies; they peep in every few minutes to assist, question and announce to the world he is getting a perfect score. The children participate in events; the parents decide what their little one is going to dress up as, checking what role they have in the play and maybe given the school a piece of their mind because after all, their darling is the best. Children go on a field trip; the parent has to have the teacher’s phone number to call up every hour to inquire if their little one has had dinner and whether she is accompanying the student suffering from cold. It is as if the umbilical cord is still on, never mind if the little one is actually 15 years old.
Such a parent is actually grooming their little one for a teenage full of rebellion. The child will very likely hide things from his parents, do things behind her back and try to go under the radar for the most part. He will turn to lies in order to escape disappointing his parents. Sometimes, they go to any extent to establish fake email ids, create a false identity on Facebook, hide his exam papers and report cards and his friendship with girls just to escape notice. These children do it because they do not get their space to grow up.
The other type of parenting I see often is `Snow plow parenting’. Such parents are driven by the desire to see their children succeed at any cost. They make sure that all hurdles are cleared for their children to succeed, just like how the snow is cleared so that the car will have an easy drive. They sacrifice the present of their child for temporary gains. You will see them in school where they get VIP treatment. They may not request or demand that their child is given importance but when the school wants to placate them they remain silent.
Among others, you see them pouring the midnight oil with the children, booking them into coaching classes in order get them that seat in the college and when they fail they are prepared to go to court that the question paper had `questions out of portion’. When their daughter is preparing for her exams, they stop the entire household so that there is no noise at home. The TV shows are out, there is no celebration, no guests and no enjoyment whatsoever in the buildup to the exam.
Children take it up to a point, after which they start rebelling. When they begin to realize their mind, they refuse to cooperate. They suddenly feel they cannot cope and shy away from challenges. This can happen to even the most capable students if parents engage in `snow plow parenting’.
Parents need to be warned about too much attention to the growing pangs of their children. Some pain and failures are part of life and cannot be treated as the finale. The more parents stop interfering the better the development of children. This is one vital fact which seems mostly forgotten today.