In a recent article, a student relations administrator at Stanford University lamented over the fact that so many freshmen entering college for the first time couldn't function from day to day without constant communications with their parents, especially their moms. When issues arose such as what electives should be considered, should they choose the earlier lunch period versus the later one, or which clothes went with which when doing laundry,these otherwise academically brilliant young adults were at a complete loss.
How could such intelligent students be so inept at such mundane choices, you may ask? And did they just become so needy since entering the higher halls of education? I doubt it.
It seems to me that moms of today are so over-involved in their children's lives from day one, that allowing them to make even the simplest of decisions is completely foreign to them. If an infant suddenly rolls over by accident and is somewhat startled, mom immediately rushes to aid and abet her little darling before even a whimper can be sounded.
At two, God forbid the child refuses to eat fruits and veggies and opts for chocolate chip cookies exculsively! Forty years ago when my own kids went through the same phase, our pediatrican said that eventually they's switch to hot dogs, so just ride it out. In my opinion, he was a very wise man in additon to being a first rate physician.
When starting Kindergaten, these ill-equipped youngsters are actually frightened when asked to say their names in front of the class or explain a Show-N-Tell item. They haven't be afforded opportunites to make their own decisions and accept the consequences for them. Moms and dads speak for their children, make choices they believe to be in their best interests, and accept responsibilities for their actions rather than allowing them to be held accountable.
I'm sure these parents are well-intentioned, but not allowing very young children to make their own choices makes them insecure and deters developmental growth. Decision-making like walking, talking, and feeding one self is a skill that is learned only when permitted to practice over and over again. If a child is carried, spoken for, and fed by an adult, it will take that much longer for him or her to gain competence in these areas.
By no means am I advocating that a three-year-old be let loose to roam the neighborhood unattended. That would be considered child neglect by today's standards. Albeit, my brother and I did exactly that in the Fifties, however times were different then, Life was so much simplier, people were so much more authenic and lived close to family where everybody watched out for each other.
What I am saying is to provide your children with opportunities to think and act for themselves. So what if they choose to wear stripes and polka dots to preschool at the same time. What matters is that they were the ones to decide what looked good together and they would be the ones to endure the strange stares of the other parents as they walked into class. Perhaps their classmates would find their outfits appealing, and appear in similar attire the next day. Perhaps not, but in either case the decision-making process is what's important here, not the fashion statement.
As the years quickly pass and your youngsters become teens, having allowed them to make their own decisions along the way will produce huge benefits. Their skills will be nicely honed, and they will be more than likely to make better decisions since they've been practicing for years. Those who have been over-protected by helicopter parents will oftentimes find themselves inadequate when it comes to choosing the best possible scenerio in certain instances. Sometimes making wrong choices can have devastating consequences, and as parents we have the responsibility to prepare our children long before our teens are ever faced with such dilemmas.
From birth, if we adults stay grounded and realize that even infants can and should be allowed to choose their own toys, their own food preferences, their own environmental surroundings, our college-bound sons and daughters will have no trouble deciding upon an elective, picking a lunch period, or doing their own laundry without having to make frantic calls to you.
Come on, parents, land those helicopters and stay grounded and watch your children become self-sufficient, independent people who are destined to change the world.