Posts Tagged ‘guidance’
Am I a Helicopter Parent?
You may have wondered if you are too attentive to your child’s needs, or if you have been overly involved in his or her relationships or decisions. And if you have, you wonder how to stop, to keep your child from becoming so dependent on you or your opinions, that he can’t make decisions for himself.
It can be hard to tell how much is too much. You are caring, attentive, involved, and dedicated to your child’s success … all the things you hear make up good parenting. And yet, sometimes you get sideways glances from your friends or relatives. Other times they come right out and tell you that you shouldn’t be so involved in your child’s life. Or worse, they avoid talking and withdraw from your friendship, leaving you wondering what you did wrong.
“I want the best for my child,” says a client who comes to me with this issue, “but I don’t know where the line is. Should I be checking his grades online every day or every week? Should I try to find out who he’s texting, who he’s friends with on Instagram, and how the coach feels about his performance at practice? Should I contact the school counselor if he seems depressed or discouraged?”
What IS a parent’s job in this day of over exposure to media and pressure to perform?
First, realize that it’s a totally different world from the one we grew up in. The sheer number of ways that a child can now interact with the world without parental knowledge is mind-boggling. The news carries stories of Amber Alerts and stranger abduction. It’s very hard to know how to navigate this territory, and you are not alone.
Here are some tips for healthy monitoring of your child’s life, without overdoing it.
- Place parental controls on all your child’s devices. Don’t apologize for doing this. With the Internet’s reach, it’s simply good parenting to eliminate the vast array of potentially harmful sources. Google your Internet provider + parental controls to get the info you need. Do this today.
- It’s not being too involved if your child is struggling in school, and you check the parent portal once every week or two. Your only response needs to be one of offering help if needed, not a lecture on grades. If your child is doing well, it’s his or her business what the grades look like.
- If you are paying for the phone, you have access to the texts and social media passwords. I’m sorry to say it’s important that your child not have privacy in this area, because cyber-bullying and inappropriate postings are too easy for developing humans. They need our guidance, and having access to them, along with weekly checks, is just prudent practice. Keep in mind that some apps (get a good list here) are designed to have the messages disappear after only a few seconds. If someone posts something inappropriate that features your child, it IS possible to preserve the image by screen-shot, and pass it on on other social media platforms, which means it’s on the Internet forever. This needs to be explained to your child.
- “No screens an hour before bed” (to prevent sleep loss) and “the phone is charged in the kitchen” (to prevent constant availability) are two good rules.
- It’s not overly involved to talk about ways predators can pose as 15-year-olds online and ask teens to meet them in person. Be certain that your child’s whereabouts are always clear to you. Apps on their phones that communicate with yours can locate them, and I think it’s a good idea. Ask your child to let you know where she is, and expect compliance. Be casual about it, but also be firm. The phone is a privilege, and its use depends on this rule being followed.
- Being friends on Facebook or Instagram with your child’s friends is usually over the line. Being friends with their parents is a good way to stay connected, so you know what’s happening in their world, too, and can be united for all your children.
- Encourage in-person socialization, so that children don’t forget how to relate one-on-one. Allowing them to invite friends to your home is not overly involved. Inviting them yourself, or asking their parents to send them over, is.
- Monitor sleep-overs just enough to discourage drinking or inviting unwanted guests. Do not “hang out” with your child’s friends in your home unless invited.
- Remember that some level of privacy is necessary for a child to develop normally. Invite sharing, but if you don’t get it, stay relaxed. Have an understanding with your child that if something seems really amiss with a friend, you will be in touch with his or her parents. Use compassion, not policing.
- As your child grows into young adulthood, take a stance of support and encouragement, while being there as a guide for the inevitable rough spots.If you have questions about this or any other parenting issue, visit www.parentingmojo.com/parent-coaching.