What Kind of Parent are You?
I was listening to a podcast the other day with Dr. Drew and he was talking about “helicopter parents”. They’re the ones that buzz around in their children’s business and always know exactly what’s going on, but in the extreme. They’re overinvolved. I’m afraid that might be me. I always know what’s going on and where they are because I take them everywhere. I don’t make them find a ride anywhere or be independent for anything unless it’s something I simply can not do, and then more often than not, they just stay home if I can’t take them. I’m really working on letting go. Because the downside of being a helicopter parents is that your kids never make any decisions because you’ve done all the work for them. And they never leave home.
When Shelby started high school last year, I found that other parents were making their kids find their own way to school. Whether it was the school bus, the city bus, or finding a carpool, they were on their own. Not Shelby though, I took her and picked her up every single day unless I had a meeting and then the monkey did it. This school year, I’m finding myself having to shuttle three kids to three different schools at three different times, and I’m having trouble getting my head around how I’m going to do it. Not only that, but they all have weird schedules: Kasey goes late on Tuesday, Shelby goes late on Wednesday, and Lindsey gets out early on Wednesday. Why can’t everything just be the same and why don’t I have an assistant or nanny that can do all this?
I want you to know that I know that I’m completely blessed with a flexible job that I work from home and I have breaks and a lunch during the day, but it exhausts me just to think about all the running around I’m going to do. I’ve already started saying things like, “you know, there might be days when you’ll have to take the bus home” or “we’re going to have to maybe work in a carpool”. Not that I’m excited about a carpool AT ALL since the last one ended so badly with one of Shelby’s friends completely ignoring her every afternoon I brought her home to hang out for two hours before her mom would get her. She was terrible. Carpools are hard if you don’t get the right person. As for the bus, it’s not like when I was a kid and the bus got you at the end of the street. The bus is even a drive away.
Now, I’m going to talk about a different parenting style: a Swooper. There’s no Wiki definition of this but it’s something I have to deal with in my own life. When the monkey left, he didn’t fight me for the kids. He stated on more than one occasion that I was the better parent, and even if I wanted to leave the state with them that would be okay with him. Maybe he knows his own limitations as a crappy parent, or more likely, he knows that I’m a better parent and he just doesn’t want to get his hands dirty with all the day-to-day responsibilities of being an actual parent. However, sitting at his daughter’s piano recital beaming, I realize he’s a swooper. He just wants to swoop in and get the glory of “isn’t my daughter great” without having to make any real decisions. He wants to show up to stuff with his whole family like he’s doing such a great job as a parent, when he’s really not doing anything. THEN, if something bad happens like they get expelled or a teen pregnancy (God FORBID!!) he can just say, “not my fault, she was with her mom the whole time”. So no real blame for anything that goes wrong, but glory when they are at their dance recital or getting an award at school. Man, I hate that douche. Okay, I’m getting a little worked up.
So, I have a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another……wait, anyway, I have a friend with a group of other friends where the husbands are losing their minds. They all have kids and one husband stays out all night drinking and not parenting at all and another was setting up online dates. The first friend and I were talking about it and just asking some questions (to no one in particular) about why would these guys risk everything: their families, their security, half their income with this kind of behavior. And the only thing I could think is they can’t deal with the day-to-day. Parenting is hard and it takes a special person to get in there and get their hands dirty and lead their family. I have the utmost respect for a man who steps up and stays, a man who makes the hard decisions for his family and leads them through the hard stuff without leaving. I haven’t seen a lot of that in my own life to know what it looks like. Luckily, we have good friends and my kids have some examples; but I worry that they’re not going to know what to look for. And that’s where prayer comes in again, because God knows I can’t do it alone.