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Archived Story

Don’t be a helicopter parent at Easter

Published 9:06am Monday, April 2, 2012

Column: Something About Nothing

It’s time for an Easter egg hunt. Last year my granddaughter Maggie had an Easter egg hunt for the adults in our family. Jake and Maggie did a great job of hiding the eggs all over their house. It was a challenge to find all those eggs full of candy, but the kids knew unless they did something drastic it would be a cutthroat adventure. They knew how competitive the adults in their family are, and they knew that the prize of chocolate could turn the adventure into a dangerous game.

To keep us from hurting each other in fighting for the chocolate, we each had a certain color of eggs to find. Apparently my two grandchildren did not want to referee, and they knew if we found someone else’s egg we wouldn’t tell in the hopes that we could go back later and it would still be there so we could eat their chocolate. Unfortunately those kids knew us well and made sure we had the right color eggs in our basket and counted to be sure we found all of our eggs. There would be no sneaking back later to steal someone’s unfound egg.

Recently an Easter egg hunt in Colorado Springs made the news. It was canceled because of helicopter parents. These are parents that get overly involved in whatever their kids do to the point of ruining the competition and causing problems for other people. Apparently last year it got too dangerous and the adults ruined the Easter egg hunt for the kids.

There is a fine line as a parent that we walk. We want our kids to succeed. We want our kids to be the best. We push them and prod them because we think as adults we know what is best for our children.

Yes, I pushed and prodded too. However in my old age I have realized that I don’t even know what I want to be when I grow up so how could I know what was best for my kids? Each of them had different personalities and different talents then either their father or I so our wants would not be the same as their wants.

My children were smart. They listened to the beat of their own drum and carved out a life for themselves. As parents we overcompensate because we don’t want our kids to be hurt or we sometimes try and live our lives through them. We want them to accomplish something we dreamed about but didn’t accomplish in our own life. The problem is that occasionally what we want them to accomplish was our dream and not our children’s dream.

I have failed at many things. I have succeeded at many things. I have learned that there is no success without failure. Failure is a learning experience that allows us to enjoy our successes more. For some reason as parents we don’t want our kids ever to fail. We shelter them; we do things for them so they do not have to experience disappointment. We give them instant gratification so they don’t have to learn patience. We want an ideal world for our kids and so we take over the Easter egg hunts so they get the most eggs. We don’t care about the other kids whose parents let them have the adventure of finding the eggs on their own. We don’t care if someone else is hurt in the process of thinking we are helping our kids become successful.

Maggie and Jake don’t help us find our hidden eggs and candy. They don’t care if we cry and ask for help. They are devious when they hide their hidden treasure. We have to figure the clues out on our own. They offer comfort if we are disappointed. They offer encouragement if we are discouraged during the hunt, but they don’t do it for us. They already know the value of letting us make our own mistakes.

If our kids never experience losing, having to wait or disappointment it will be hard for them to grow as a person. Life has a way of teaching our children no matter how hard we as parents try to manipulate circumstances and outcomes. We may be able to help them beat the other kids to the Easter eggs but it will be up to them to learn how to raise the chickens that lay those eggs.

Did I mention that we also have an Easter egg hunt for the kids? It follows the adult Easter egg hunt. No helicopter grandma here. I do watch over their parents, however, to make sure that candy does not disappear from Jake and Maggie’s basket. Perhaps I am a helicopter parent after all, even when my children are adults.

 

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at thecolumn@bevcomm.net.