No, I am not alluding to the massive trucks covered in flashing lights, filled with a grainy sandy-salty mixture, and equipped with an enormous curved blade on the front and another “wing blade” off to the side (famously known for cutting down rural mailboxes), that those of us here in northern climes both rely on, and dread meeting from the opposite direction or getting behind, during our long winters. I am, actually, referring to the, less than laudable, newly minted terminology describing parents who go beyond hovering (I’m sure you have all heard of the ubiquitous child rearing style – called helicopter parenting) to actually create a barrier of protection, and actively pushing (removing) obstacles or potential disappointment out of their child’s path, before the child can encounter it.
Beyond creating entitled, narcissistic, and obnoxious brats, these parenting techniques go against every natural law of childhood.
All animal babies, including humans, have evolved an innate technique that beautifully uses exploration, experimentation, and, an inborn flexibility to adjust the original plan, based on errors, as the dominant method of learning. Kids are incredibly resilient – their bodies and minds are designed to play, get bumps and bruises, seek out danger to see, for themselves, how far they can safely push the limits; they are supposed to encounter obstacles, barriers, and disappointment. This is the natural means of acquiring knowledge, not only about the world, but themselves – what they like, what they dislike, what they are good at, and most importantly how they each learn best as individuals.
Are they visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners, or some combination? Do they gravitate towards logical, mathematical type thinking or are they more inclined to think about things in a more fluid and organically creative way? Are they happy to be solitary or do they feel better surrounded by people? Will they gain more information through visual and spatial cues, nature, or music and rhythm? The only thing children need to understand all of this is an environment filled with real-life stuff as well as caring, loving, and supportive adults (who are willing to get out of the way and follow the child’s lead) were they are free to roam, investigate, and explore on their own, and seek out help when needed, without hindrance or prefabricated agendas. Most of us know these things about ourselves because we have had the opportunity to investigate and test out our own preferences, throughout our entire lives – from infant-hood on.
I wonder, though, is it our culture itself that is responsible for producing Helicopter and Snowplow Parents? In our attempts to keep kids safe in what we perceive to be an unsafe world – we have attempted to recreate, carefully cultivated, antiseptically cleaned, “safe” environments that replicate everything children “need” - from “playgrounds,” retail “play spaces,” and specially designed “playrooms” in our homes, to daycare facilities, preschools, and (of course) schools. We shame the parents who actively avoid these often age segregated spaces filled with safe equipment, predetermined lessons, adult driven activities, and arbitrary rules that offer little room for exploration or outside the box thinking, and a whole lot of control.
As a culture, we have developed what amounts to unimaginative, creativity (and immunity) killing, padded cells. And, in doing so, we have effectively removed those biological and cultural mechanisms for learning (not to mention health); leaving children, as they grow older, to flounder, rudderless, without any other authentic means of seeking out information about themselves or their world. Subsequently, in our attempt to keep kids safe, we are anesthetizing them from real life, and we are also inhibiting their natural immunity (yes, kids are sicker), with (the irony of it all) toxic chemicals. You can be sure that these kids will eventually rebel!
This all means many of our kids are entering adulthood without a literal, or figurative, clue. They have no idea what they are interested in – what really lights their fire, and have no way of figuring it out, because they have been taught to fear the unknown (including the outdoors and all it encompasses - but most especially - dirt), change, disappointment, and making mistakes. They also don’t know how to solve problems or think creatively. They expect to be entertained, want everything to easily fall into their laps, and are keenly disappointed when they don’t. And, they honestly don’t know how to fix that. Instead, they blame others for their failures, seek out means of artificially removing obstacles, and often inflate their own accomplishments to appear more influential, well rounded, and smarter. I am deeply saddened to say, as a society, we are not growing people who care about kindness, or helping others - who understand empathy or compassion – we are raising people whose main objective is to get ahead, and they will use whatever unscrupulous means it takes to get there.
Opening day for DRC -East is Tuesday! Stay-tuned for photos and other developments, as we get established. Contact us if you are interested in learning more about joining us in Lawrenceville. There are limited spaces available.
The DRC Afternoon Programs opens Monday, January 6th. Register your child today!