Independence vs the Hover

It is strange how memories come back to you because of situations.  I have been thinking about independent young adults vs the hovering parents and remembered something from childhood. 

My parents, pre-divorce, were friends with our rabbi and his wife.  They were very loose in their child rearing. She was a very progressive psychoanalysis.  They allowed their children to draw all over the walls with crayons and markers.  The idea was when their children turned a certain age, I believe it was 6 and 8, then they would change the rules.  My mom said "good luck with that one". You have to start with setting boundaries and learning right from wrong at an early age. I think that goes for parents too.

I have written about the hovering helicopter parents before.  Someone told me other day that there are 3 areas that he wants his group to work on disrupting; terrorists, religion and parenting.  That kind of says something.  I am watching the hovering continue as kids grow into young adults and I find it amazing.

Jessica just graduated college and she is moving towards her life as a young adult.  Her path will be different than mine and Freds as it should be.  Her path will be hers.  I remember when we graduated school and then took a two month cross country trip eventually landing in NYC to start working.  We found our own apartment, we wrote a check for the security deposit and then we began to work.  We paid our bills, we managed our bank accounts, we worked like dogs.  I might have asked for advice but I was my own person, I was independent.  I would expect our kids to be the same.  Making their own life choices and managing their own finances. 

As I move into my next adulthood, the empty nest world, raising independent kids will have given us the opportunity to not have to spend our time hovering and doing for our kids but enjoying them as adults in the life that they have chosen for themselves.  It might be different now than it was when I grew up but in many ways…not so much. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. Lisa Abeyta

    It’s an interesting thing to have a child who is what is called twice exceptional – very high IQ paired with several learning disabilities. My philosophy as a parent has always been to set firm boundaries but not hover. My two kids in college are quite independent and making their own paths, but with this youngest one, I’ve had to redefine hovering. One teacher recently commented that when a child is in special ed, it is the parent’s job to be a helicopter parent, that continual feedback, explanation, intervention and monitoring are necessary. But even when I know it is necessary, I don’t like it, because it is the opposite of the lifelong lesson that a child needs to learn – that parents are not there to fix things or manage one’s life. I’ve had to work very hard to make sure he is learning those lessons of independence and responsibility outside of school and in the classroom when a failure is due to laziness instead of the learning disabilities. When he was first diagnosed with so many learning disabilities in second grade, he went to school the next day and refused to do any work, claiming he didn’t need to because of the learning disabilities. That night I told him that his learning disabilities meant that he would have to work hard, longer and struggle more to not only keep up but to do his very best. He looked at me and asked, “Then what good is it having a disability?” I’ve had to really struggle as a parent to balance th advocating and responsibility to create a fair playing field for him with my responsibility to teach him that his life is his own – successes and failures – and that the choices made have consequences and rewards that are his, alone.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Each child is so different but figuring out how to teach some form of independence I believe is rewarding for both sides.Thanks for sharing

      1. LE

        One of the biggest mistakes I have seen parents make is assuming what works with one kid will work with the other. And that it’s the kid’s fault, not their fault for not altering their approach to the kid and the problem to be solved.I have 3 cousins (from different families) and they all followed the same pattern.One kid was the perfect son/daughter. The other kid was “not as good” or “didn’t try as hard”. The parent thought what they did must be right because the one kid was so perfect. They didn’t feel they needed to alter their behavior with #2 (or #3) but they did. As a result in all of these families the lesser kid fell even more and just started to rebel because they could never live up to the image of the favored child. (No doubt you’ve seen this as well).When I was married my ex wife made a comment about one of my daughters to indicate that she didn’t think she was “as good” as the other daughter. I immediately put a kibosh on that one. I said in no way can you ever play a game with the kids where you make who you think is #2 think they are not as good or somehow lacking vs. #1. Alter your approach don’t assume that what works for one will work for another. (More involved than that but that’s the gist).

      2. TanyaMonteiro

        teaching independence is rewarding for us ALL not just both parties

        1. Gotham Gal

          nice one tanya.

  2. AMT Editorial Staff

    I still recall (nearly 20 years later) sitting in my first apartment in Chicago a month or two after move-in. I was thinking, here I am on my own. I brush my teeth without being asked; I take care of my bills and get up when I’m supposed to; I get “it” done. And while all these tasks were completed in college, it felt SO different being outside that collegial hug. There is no substitute for feeling self-reliant and capable and good parenting can instill this early on. Letting your child fail is a crucial part of it.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Failing is so important

  3. Shelly

    So true Joanne. I tell my daughter to try new things and don’t be afraid to fail. This is how you learn. As long as you fail fast and apply what you learn.

  4. Erin Newkirk

    that illustration is hilarious. 🙂

  5. LE

    I agree with what you are saying with respect to your experience as well as how you treat your kids.But I will add this. You can afford to step back and allow them to make mistakes because in the end you have enough financial resources to catch them if they fail or if they fall with a choice they make.Otoh not all helicopter parents are in the same position. They are trying to prevent kids from making mistakes that they can’t fix for them (because they lack the financial resources to make it right).Re: Walls. When I was newly married my ex wife and I visited friends who were religious at their house.The place was an absolute mess (it’s a “frum” thing they disavow and try to care less about things like that I think). The guy (about my age at the time) had a window in the kitchen that was broken with some cardboard covering it. I assumed it has just happened. It hadn’t it had been that way for at least a year. They cooked kosher chicken in tin foil – one of the worst meals I ever had. Wasn’t a money thing (he did quite well). Same with my “religious” cousins (modern orthodox). Moved into a big house and it looks the same as it did 20 years ago when they bought it. Never even replaced the wallpaper or painted. Zip. And they have plenty of money. Their value system is just different. They are not into flash it’s part of the way that entire community is.One thing I will say is this. Kids now are greatly disadvantaged by having parents that think for them. There is no question about that. In my first business I had to make every single decision and I had nobody to ask any questions. That turned out to be great exercise for the brain. Even as a kid my dad would refuse to answer a question until I had tried and exhausted every single possible thing I could on my own. The guessing game could easily last hours.

  6. pointsnfigures

    I always liked this analogy. When your kids are little, they need boundaries around them that keep them close. As they grow, you extend the boundary. Once they hit the teen years, you know full well they will cross what ever line you draw-so draw the line in a way that they feel they have freedom, but when they step over it’s not over a cliff but onto more dry land.

    1. Gotham Gal

      i like the way you look at it. totally agree

  7. laurie kalmanson

    applause.mine is starting 5th grade; longer projects, more homework: i am standing back and seeing how the time management goes.raising kids to steer their own lives: biggest accomplishment of all.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Certainly the biggest accomplishment of them all