They say that you should learn something new every day (My goal for 2013 is to find out who “they” are.). Today I learned that helicopter parents are happier than other parents. My first thought was followed quickly by “What’s a helicopter parent?” and “Where do I sign up?” (Hellloooo, they get to fly around in HELICOPTERS – how cool is that?).
When I got to work, I did some research. I still don’t know who “they” are, but I learned that parents are referred to as “helicopter parents” because they hover over their children like a helicopter and not because they’re loud, unstable in high winds and fling swords around their heads.
I also read a disturbing article about the most recent study on helicopter parents & child-centric parenting. (http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/why-helicopter-moms-might-get-the-last-laugh-204223686.html?.tsrc=rawnews). The study appears to be in direct response to Amy Chua book about being a Tiger mother http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_Hymn_of_the_Tiger_Mother
I find it disturbing that our competitiveness, our overwhelming need to be the best at everything has carried over into parenting. This heated debate over which type of parenting is “best” completely ignores the fact children are individuals, and that not only do they need different parenting styles during their lifetimes, but oftentimes (thank you teenage hormones) several different styles during the same day!
One of the first things that struck me (other than the idea of happiness being quantifiable), was the study’s “finding that parents who prioritize the needs and happiness of their children before their own are happier when taking care of their children”. In other words, parents are happiest when they’re doing something that makes them happy. No shit. Next you’ll be telling me that “People who love bicycling are happiest when they are on a bicycle.” (People get paid for this?).
The headline was misleading, to say the least. Although the opening paragraph claims that the study proves that helicopter moms are happier, the article goes on to say that” the study was not large enough to be representative of the population”, and “the authors agree that more research is needed”. The article also mentions that helicopter moms are happier when compared to “tiger moms”.
What I found most interesting is that the study focuses on the well-being and happiness of the parent, and not the children. We have a group of parents who are (purportedly) putting their children’s needs and well-being ahead of their own, but all this study proves is that a laser like focus on every moment of a child’s life brings happiness to the parent.
In our debate over the “best” way to parent, we have completely forgotten to focus on what is best for the children. Ironic, isn’t it?