The professionalism of parenthood - hyper-parenting
I find information about hyper-parenting particularly interesting
because it feels like the opposite of the way I was raised.
My early childhood was spent on a small sheep and cropping
farm, and looking back it seems it was filled with oceans of time just
stretching away into the distance.
As youngsters we were regularly told to go
out and play and come back
at dinner time - which sometimes meant that our parents would have no
idea where we were, or what we were doing! Mostly we would be
exploring, building huts, climbing trees, playing in our "enchanted
forest", or swimming in the many creeks that dotted the landscape.
It seems to have been a carefree time, mostly because there were few
neighbors close by, and the idea of danger from strangers just never
occurred to any of us! Just brothers and sisters free to roam, to fall,
to make mistakes, to learn, to conquer, and to develop concentration,
patience and creativity through hours and hours of free play time.
However, children today appear to have lost a lot of the wonderful
opportunities for free play and a sense of wonder, by a parenting style
that has reaped some pretty amazing names!
The Parent Trap is an incredibly interesting article in the series
on the overprotective parenting style
, also known as helicopter parenting
or hovering parents
This writer talks about the 'professionalism of parenthood
' in a culture of hyper-parenting and soaring expectations.
I'm all for love, intuition and common sense as the driving force behind parenting. What do you think?
Hyper-parenting - The Parent Trap?
Monday, April 28, 2008
A friend once told me that parents should endeavour to act like butlers
-- never hovering, but always close by in case their child needs them.
At the time, I was a doting new mother, and I found his view of
parenthood cold and detached. The very thought of a traditional and
ever-aloof British butler gave me shivers. To me, my friend's
suggestion was paramount to neglect.
Now, with a decade of experience under my belt, I see the value in his
words and the point he was trying to make -- the premise being that
children are people, not projects to be managed. In order for them to
become themselves, my friend was suggesting, kids need the space to
develop apart from the constant presence of their moms and dads.
I was reminded of the butler metaphor after reading the latest book by
Alberta-born writer Carl Honore, Under Pressure: Rescuing Childhood
From the Culture of Hyper-Parenting (Knopf Canada, $32).
Honore, author of the acclaimed In Praise of Slow, is now based in
London. In a telephone interview from Portland, Ore. where he was on a
book tour, he tells me he wrote this book because he felt like he'd
lost his way as a parent of two small children. He found himself, like
other parents of his generation, anxious with worry that even a shred
of his children's potential might go untapped.
"I'd lost my compass. It started as a personal thing. Then I was trying
to understand what was going on in my own life. Then as a writer, I was
curious about what was happening to other parents in other places,"
"I think what we're witnessing is the professionalization of
. We're living in a cultural perfect storm. A culture of
soaring expectations," he says. "We want everything to be perfect. From
our homes to our teeth to our vacations to, regrettably, our children."Hyper-parenting - The Parent Trap
Honore believes there are several reasons why parents micro-manage
their kids these days, one of which is numbers. Families are typically
smaller than they have been in previous years, and it's "much easier to
hyper-parent one child or two children" than three, four or five kids,"
he says. "All of the research around the world shows that parents, if
they have one child, tend to over-manage that child."
What's more, Honore maintains, parents are choosing to raise their
children later in life and they're unwittingly bringing their workplace
ethos to the dinner table. "They're skidding into motherhood and
fatherhood at the last minute.
They feel like this is their only chance
to make it work and this sentiment informs their anxiety.
"Modern parents think, 'I'll bring in the experts, spend a lot of money
and put in long hard hours.' They're 'professionalizing' their role as
parents. What's more, they're putting pressure on kids to excel because
with globalization, they know how competitive the workplace can be."
The irony of all this fuss is that, according to Honore, parents then
expect to produce extremely intelligent, happy and healthy children.
"But this isn't happening. These kids aren't great problem solvers.
They're depressed, often obese and they often suffer from anxiety. They
come out of the assembly line of modern childhood and they're ill
equipped. Hyper-parenting does not teach kids how to stand on their own
Honore, who refers to his new publication as an "anti-parenting book,"
says he's calling on modern moms and dads to trust their instincts
release the pressure they're putting on their children to be perfect.
, he insists, when their kids are tired from too many
extracurricular activities. They know
when their children are spending
too much time on the Internet. They know
when the kids need a break
from homework and they know
when their kids should head outdoors for
some fresh air.
"I'm recommending that parents try to stop for a moment and shut out
the sound and fury that surrounds children and families right now,"
Honore says. "Look at your own family and yourself and your own
children and ask what is the right balance for you
. There are so many
ways to grow up."
My seven-year-old son doesn't want to play organized hockey -- as much
as my husband and I have encouraged him.
He insists he just wants to
skate with his dad and the neighbours on the local rink.
The truth is, he's already got soccer and piano and a full Grade 1
curriculum on his plate. Does he really need to be doing more?
If I were honest, I'd admit that my inner "helicopter mom" still
occasionally wants to convince my boy that hockey would be good for him.
But I resist. These days, I'm aiming -- not always successfully -- for
a butler-style approach to parenting.
Kim Gray is a journalist and mother of two. She welcomes your feedback
and ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org
© The Calgary Herald 2008
Hyper-parenting? Why has it Occurred Today?
Over parenting, over protective parents, managed childhoods, all of
this falls into the category of hyper parenting today.
There are numerous reasons for this style of parenting becoming a part
of our way of life for many:
The economy and the need for gifted children to take their place in the future
Working parents who need alternative means of
childcare and use extra curricular classes
Worried parents who want the very best for
their children's future
Fear, which creates over protectiveness
Children raised like projects
The list goes on..............
Read more in this series here:
Would you like to comment on these articles by sharing how you feel about this type of
parenting......Do you have any hints or tips for other parents??? Or
do you have a story to tell about how you beat the pressure of being a
and share it with
us....we'd love to hear from you!