While parental involvement is key to a child’s success in school, at what point does a participating parent become a smother mother — or father?
Dr. Ken Haller, associate professor of pediatrics at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, said that being an advocate for a child is a noble thing, but at a certain point, parents need to step back and let their children become advocates for themselves.
“That’s the only way kids will be able to learn the skills they’ll need to take care of themselves when they become adults,” Haller said.
Everyone knows — or is — a parent who is overly involved in his or her children’s lives.
Popular culture has labeled them “helicopter parents,” for their tendency to hover closely overhead. While the term is new, Haller said the phenomenon is not.
“There have always been parents who would fit the definition of helicopter parents. They used to be called ‘overprotective parents,’ but the idea of parents who hover over their children to shield them from possible distress is as old as parenting,” he said.
Societal pressures — from pregnancy to college graduation — to raise the perfect child contribute to the problem, Haller said.
Today’s parents also feel more empowered to question the authority of other adults whom their child encounters, such as coaches and teachers, he explained.
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