There has been a lot written recently (and by “a lot written recently” I mean I just got around to reading one article) about overparenting. Overparenting (first cousin to helicopter parenting) is, in the words of Julie Lythcott-Haims, former Dean of Freshmen and Undergraduate Advising at Stanford University, overdirecting, overprotecting, or over-involving ourselves in our kids’ lives. Somehow, she says, we have gone from preparing our kids for life to protecting them from life.
To be clear, both she (and I) agree that too little parenting is just as problematic. Just not a problem we’re talking about at the moment.
I love when experts agree with me.
This is why, dearest child of mine, I have learned to shut my mouth.
You may stop laughing now. Seriously.
It is important for kids to make mistakes.
You couldn’t have learned to ride a bike without overcorrecting your balance a few times (even though Dad ran along next to you and we picked you up when you toppled).
You couldn’t have taught yourself to rollerblade without a few falls (yes, I watched from the upstairs window the entire time).
You wouldn’t have learned to play the trombone (do you still remember how?) without hitting a few, um, unplanned notes.
And you won’t learn adult stuff without making a few mistooks along the way.
There is nothing like looking at a bank account with $10 and a week to go before it replenishes to teach a college kid about budgeting better the next month.
Or spending some time in one major to figure out it’s only slightly better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick and maybe you’d better change.
Or eating pizza at 2am and discovering you hate anchovies.
Or ordering $20 worth of Insomniac Cookies and wondering why you have no money left for real food (stop that).
Our job as parents is to keep you from going too far off the rails (spending your entire semester’s food budget on a new guitar doesn’t seem like the best of all possible ideas), to help you think things through (um, if you go to Columbus this weekend, when are you going to get your project done?), and to be there to parent (not to do it for you) when things go topsy-turvy.
Which they will, because this is Life.
We will listen, we will advise, we will dust off your knees, and give you a Teenage Mutant Ninja BandAid. We will kiss your boo-boos (yes, moms can kiss boo-boos long distance—they teach us in mom school), and love you enough to let you make mistakes.
We will be there to cheer your successes. Because they will be yours.
And in being your successes, they will be mine too.