To say that being a parent is “hard” doesn’t really grasp the full complexity of the job, which many of you know far better than I. How people are expected to know what is the right decision for their child is truly beyond me. You know you’ll make mistakes, but could the next mistake be the one that scars your child for life?
Many parents avail themselves of family support, books and even classes to improve their ability to do what’s best for their child. The Putnam City Schools Foundation supports Early Birds, which provides insight into young brains that can truly make a world of difference in how one raises their child. No matter the economic or ethnic circumstances, all parents need this type of training.
There is a reason that teachers go to college and take classes called Early Childhood Development. And the Exceptional Child. And Methods of Teaching. How best to teach a child is not completely innate.
Sometimes the instinctive behavior is the more destructive choice. Take the study on childhood anxiety conducted by the Yale School of Medicine.
Researchers observed that many parents would do anything to keep their child from feeling anxious to the point of vomiting. The story reports on a 9-year-old who begged his parents to wait outside the bathroom while he showered because he couldn’t bear to be alone. And they did.
Some people call this “helicopter” or “snowplow” parenting, and it is crippling our children. What I think is missing is the understanding of the parent’s appropriate role. Parents are raising humans, preparing them for their own adulthood. If they clear the path of all obstacles, what will the child grow up to be, but dependent, naïve, and self-centered?
Teachers have seen many kids like this in their classrooms, and I promise you this kind of parenting does not support a rigorous academic environment. We know this behavior often comes from a place of love, but honestly, preparing them to stand on their own is the greater good, and shows trust in your own parenting- you’ve raised them to be self-sufficient! Shouldn’t that be the goal?
The people in the study got some focused training which changed the way they parent, and provided their children with the opportunity to self-regulate and use their own resources to reframe anxious situations.
It’s unrealistic to think that all parents are born knowing the latest in brain science and how to apply it to child rearing. We should support their efforts to become better at their most important job -- preparing children for the world we’re giving them.