Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Are We Raising Helpless Kids?

I think this desire to over-help comes from our own experience.

When I first became a parent, I wanted success for my kid. I had ideas about signing up my kids for lessons and teaching her all kinds of adult things.

Even today, I would love for my eight-year-old to learn some basic computer programming. I'm ready to sit down with her and cover the stuff that I do know.

But she doesn't want to. She wants to play Pokemon.

I have visions of her learning basic programming, then moving on to the higher order languages and making money coding at a tender age.

I wish someone had taught me HTML as a child.

And I suspect many helicopter parents wished their parents had helped them get ahead.

I suspect a lot of the helicopter parenting works. If you are a parent helping your kid win science fairs, filling out their college applications, the scholarship forms, telling the kid which profs to take (because you took them) then it can result in a kid getting further ahead. If someone had taken me by the hand in high school and college, I might be a PhD by now.

That being said, I remember when I first started out on my own at age 25. I feel so awkward saying that because now I think I was old to start living on my own. I didn't quite feel adult. Living on my own was a very good thing. No, I didn't have a high class job, but I did have a sense of independence. I didn't have to depend on anyone else to get what I had. I had my pride.

It's a good feeling.

I did have something of a mini crisis when I was invited to my tenth high school reunion, which I did not attend. I felt like I hadn't really done anything with my life. Professionally, I hadn't, and I was pregnant with a child I planned to raise at home. I was a career nobody.  Exactly the black hole that my generation was taught to avoid. But eventually you learn the job market isn't the be-all end all. There's more to life than selling widgets. A job is nice, accomplishment is nice, but never forget you're only a number to your employer, even a friendly one.

So I'm quite reconciled to my state in life. Life is more than grades and careers.