My Parents Hovered, but They Weren’t Helicopters

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When I was growing up, I thought of my parents as being strict. I never thought of their rules as being anything but what they were, except when I turned sixteen. Then I thought the rules were a bit outlandish.

First off, I was never allowed to go somewhere alone, except if I was in a direct route to a particular destination, such as a friend’s house. My parents would know when I was leaving to go there and expected my return by 5 pm. I would oblige no questions asked, thinking this was the way things were supposed to be for girls. But they wouldn’t let me walk nor ride my bike downtown alone unless, once again, I was going to a friend’s house and we weren’t walking around downtown.

Downtown in Pepperell, when I was growing up, wasn’t anything spectacular. It was a small town with maybe three shops, a bank, and a pharmacy. I believe the population back then was around 6,000 people. That was back in the 1980’s. The size of Pepperell prevented one from getting into trouble.

I didn’t even know what cow tipping was back then. Something I learned about later in life. No – I didn’t knock over any cows. A coworker mentioned cow tipping one day and had to explain it to me.

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So my parents were strict. I get it. They kept telling me I couldn’t go anywhere alone because I was a girl. So they feared for my safety. I get it.

Were they helicopter parents?

I think had we had the cell phones that are around today, they might have become that kind of parent. Cell phones are the parent’s crutch to avoiding allowing their children to learn independence. Nowadays, many parents are bubble-wrapping their kids and leaving them that way well into adulthood.

Latchkey kids appear to be a thing of the past or looked down upon in today’s society. Bringing your child up this way is now considered neglect. Some parent experts want 24-hour supervision of children, even when they are in their twenties. I think this is a bit extreme. Sixteen is a great age to begin learning independence. These kids have to learn to fail, get into trouble, and make mistakes to learn by experience. If the parent fears for their safety, then teach them ways to stay safe and have their independence at the same time.

A little bit of common sense goes a long way!

Some parents will go to the college professor to fix their child’s bad grade. They will even go to the extreme of doing their college homework for them to be certain that they get a good grade.

How are they supposed to learn?

When my daughter was in sixth grade, she had trouble with her school work. Then one night as we sat down to do the homework, I realized who was doing it – Me!

That evening I said – no more. I sent a letter to the teacher the next day explaining that my daughter needed to complete as much of her homework in school as she could because she needed to be the one doing it, not me.

I’m not sure, but I think the teacher was grateful that I spoke up and told her I was doing all the homework for my daughter. How was she supposed to learn if I was doing it for her?

So the next time you catch yourself doing things for your kids, ask yourself who you are benefiting? You? Or your Child?

Don’t rob them of a learning experience.

Do Parents Stereotype Their Children?

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I don’t know about you, but my parents fit into the category of different hopes for my brother and me. My brother was supposed to go to college, but he didn’t. I was meant to have an office job, but I didn’t do that either. Does that mean we were both disappointments?

What do I mean by that?

Parents stereotype their children right from birth. Stereotyping must be a learned behavior. Everyone grows up expecting girls to be mothers, nurses, and such. The boys go off to war, start a business, or are exceptionally bright. Girls are not supposed to be bright or so I was told by my parents when I was in eighth grade.

I grew up with television shows such as Leave It to Beaver, where the Beaver learns to be nice to girls. There were Happy Days with the cool Fonzie or Laverne and Shirley who were factory workers. Do you see the stereotyping taking place?

It has only been in the past ten years that some shows, movies, and books have begun breaking the stereotyping mold. Hunger Games has the independent, quick thinking Katniss as the main character pulled into a leadership role.

Then there is Meredith Grey of Grey’s Anatomy, a  portrayal of a successful woman surgeon. And, don’t forget Arial the mermaid who saves the prince.

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I’m a parent. I get the stereotyping. I can catch myself time and again expect either my son or my daughter to be a certain way. Everyone expects their daughter to be pretty and their son strong and smart. In actuality, I wanted my son to be intelligent, strong and handsome and the same for my daughter.

Maybe it is because when my parent made that statement to me, it upset me terribly. That was the year that I failed English of all classes to fail just to test their reaction to my getting an F on my report card. Why I decided to do this, I don’t remember. Maybe I felt left out some way. But then they gave me that very answer, shocking the hell out of me. I wasn’t grounded, nor punished, nor did they yell at me. They only said, that’s okay, girls aren’t supposed to do good in school.

I think this made me angrier than had I been punished. This remark my parents made only told me that neither of them cared about my future. Maybe I was supposed to be a stay at home mom when I grew up. Funny, they never mentioned prearranged marriages.

For the last four college terms, I have been having fun shocking my mother with my grades. Her jaw dropped when I handed her my first Dean’s Letter, and when I gave her my Honor Society certificate, she just about broke down in tears and hugged me harder than she’d ever hugged me before. Maybe she remembered her words and wished she had never said them to me. I don’t know.

I don’t know how my dad would have reacted. I think he would be proud too. He passed away over fifteen years ago.

When I think of my children, I hope for them and try not to stereotype them on purpose. I would love to see both of them have equal opportunities. I know that each is unique in their way. In the end, I can only hope for the best for each of them. No matter what they do, I am proud to call them my children.