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March 28, 2009

They didn't go to kindergarten in diapers

Diapers There was a short while when I was truly worried that my son might prove the pediatrician wrong and end up being the first kid to show up in Kindergarten still sporting a diaper. Fortunately he rose to the occasion shortly before his 4th birthday and surprised us all. Now a confident, independent 11th grader it is safe to say he would probably not be thrilled that I wrote about his toilet training. (who would be?)

We tend to worry about our kids' evolution, sometimes to the point of obsession. We live in times when involvement in the lives of our children is at an all time high. In reaction to this, sociologists have created a label for not cutting the cord; we are the generation of 'helicopter parents' because we tend to hover over them.

I use the term 'we' loosely. Nearing the end of my custodial parenting years I have become reflective about how I have raised my kids. Trying to strike a healthy balance between helping and hovering is always a challenge. Let's face it, we don't like to watch them struggle, or worse, fail. Especially when we have the knowledge, or sometimes the connections, to help them avoid these hurdles. But aren't these obstacles and the ability to figure out how to navigate them in fact the act of growing up?
Last week I was talking to a friend with a college sophomore. She was hanging by her last nerve worrying about her son's plans, or lack of them, for a summer internship. As we talked she said that she was torn between making the calls to her network and wanting him to show some initiative to make it happen on his own. Another friend told me how her daughter was furious that 'everyone else's parents are getting them internships' and she was not making the effort. Have we raised them to simply expect us to fix it, whatever IT is? It is surely not their fault when their expectations are simply echoing the behavior we have exhibited their whole lives.

Enter the economic crisis. The layoffs. The canceled internship programs. The worst job market, probably in our lifetime. Perhaps the hovering needs to continue a little longer because they truly need all the help they can get.

This is what I have come up with. Yes, they need to learn how to navigate the world independently. There is no question that doing it all for them is doing a disservice. But at a time when the world is on fire, is it so bad for us to carry a fire extinguisher? Or maybe strike a balance by purchasing one for them and having it delivered.

Original 50-something Mom Blog post. Posted by Amy Zimmerman. Amy also blogs at i could cry but i don't have time and leaving the zip code.


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