Last Sunday, my colleague Amy concluded a four week series on The Quest for Perfection. It was a powerful, provocative series for all generations – darn near perfect!
Ironically, we knew we had not and could not ‘wrap up’ the topic. It is one that will continue to impact many of us, our families and our society at large. (You can find the Quest for Perfection Powerpoints here)
So it felt timely, the day after, to see in the New York Times an article called “A Cure for Hyper-Parenting,” by American journalist Pamela Druckerman. She cites a conversation with some Norwegians who are making a documentary about French child-rearing. The producer, a father of three, explains, “In Norway, we have brats, child kings, and many of us suffer from hyper-parenting. We’re spoiling them.” Apparently France is a rare rich country where hyper-parenting is not the norm.
Druckerman discusses this rising global tendency toward hyper-parenting – also called helicopter parenting – and what that role costs parents and children, emotionally and otherwise.
Her article suggests ten strategies for parental containment: expect more from our children, enjoy freedom from them when we can, parent for today, sleep, have less stuff, don’t worry about overscheduling our children, don’t over-blame ourselves, accept an imperfect work/life balance, teach emotional intelligence, and transmit the Nelson Mandela rule (you can get what you want by showing people respect).
My favorite line comes near the end: “Don’t bother obsessing about what you think you’re doing wrong [in parenting.] You won’t screw up your kids in the ways you expect; you’ll do it in ways you hadn’t even considered.” I had to burst out laughing! And then sigh deeply. There it is again, the quest for perfection; our desire to get it right. That line seems to encapsulate the reality of parenting in a nutshell. We can’t control our children’s futures.
The issues Druckerman raises extend those raised in the Quest for Perfection series:
- What downsides are there to reverencing the parenting experience over other life experiences?
- What is the difference between being a helicopter parent and having high standards for our children?
- How can we hold our children lightly, knowing they ultimately belong to God and not to us?
We welcome your comments here…