Postcards from Mommywood: Helicopter Parents from Hell
I’m tired of moms and dads who think their kid is more important than anyone else’s.
What is it with those pushy mothers and fathers who are so obsessed with having their kids excel? Chances are that if you have your kid involved in a sport (and who doesn’t these days – it’s practically required by law), you’ve seen them try to commandeer a Little League baseball game or take over a group tennis lesson.
In our culture of helicopter parenting, anecdotes about the father who’s hell-bent at having his less-than-athletic son win a spot on the varsity and the mother who thinks her uncoordinated daughter should dance the lead in a ballet recital have become something of a cliché. Unfortunately, these clichés are true. In this modern age of parenting, grooming a child for greatness seems to start in the womb. As a result, an alarming number of parents feel it is their inalienable right to do whatever they deem necessary to get the ‘best’ for their child in any circumstance, even if it ruins things for everyone else.
I had my first encounter with this a few days ago at my daughter, Madeline’s, ice skating lesson. She’s just started taking group lessons with five other children who range in ages from four to six. The instructor told me before the children began taking lessons from her, none of them had been on the ice. The rink holds several beginner classes at the same time so the ice is dotted with pockets of young kids, most of whom were doing their very best just to remain upright.
A solid wall of parents surrounded the entire rink, watching their children and jockeying constantly for the best spot. My husband gave up and settled for a spot farther back. I, on the other hand, wanted to keep an eye on Madeline, so I edged closer in.
Then I heard a father saying, “I hope she’s good at something. How old was Michelle Kwan before she started skating? We’re hoping it’s not too late.”
I didn’t know which poor child belonged to this guy, but I figured since he was hovering near Madeline’s group, it was one of the kids with her.
Sure enough, this man’s daughter was the little girl who was lagging a bit behind the rest of the kids and spending most of the lesson on her butt. Looking at Madeline’s group was a little like watching dominos fall: Whenever this child felt herself slipping, she naturally grabbed on to whoever was nearby, usually my daughter, and took everyone down with her.
As she’d done the previous week, midway through the lesson the instructor scribbled some lines on the ice with a marker and lined the kids up in hopes of having them follow it. Madeline, who is, at this stage, more comfortable being a follower than a leader, was at the back of the line behind Michelle Kwan 2.0.