An article in Chicago Tribune profiles former Stanford Dean Lythcott-Haims, among other writers like Jessica Lahey (“The Gift of Failure”) and Jennifer Senior (“All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood”), speaking to “Helicopter Parents” to Let It Go! Let the children be, children! Have a life of your own! You can also call them “Socca moms” or Drill Surgeons, they are in the face of their children, and anyone involved with their children.

Lythcott-Halms cites statistics on the rise of depression and other mental and emotional health problems among the nation’s young people, as justification that, perhaps Helicopter Parents are doing more harm than good, by micromanaging their children’s lives, trying to churn them into super-high achievers. Points to the growing concern that many young people are “adultscents” stuck in “waithood”!

I wrote recently about Parenting on a Shoe-String of Hope, that, regardless of how much we invest into our kids, there is no guarantee that they will turn out with the discipline, commitment, self-drive, kindness and love, we so strive to impart in them and desire! Parenting is not a game, yet it is a “Hit and Miss”!

Now, we have more parents, parent psychologists and scholars sharing their experiences and views on how we, as a society of parents, are fairing in grooming our children, the critical thinkers, national builders and leaders of after years. Or could it be “now years,” since children no longer waiting till adulthood to woo their societies as inventors, leaders, scholars, business gurus, artists, and employers.

At least children are gaining some recognition, that they are not just diaper-clad, video game, Minecrafters, demanding their “me-time” and “me-decide,” while expecting for papa and mama to make their bed, provide a food and monthly allowances, after-college rent, and plane tickets to global vacation destinations! Perhaps, here, we could boast that our “Helicopter parenting” has paid off, or are the ‘mature’ ones not products of helicopter parenting?

But, are we “Helicopter Parenting” out of unfounded paranoia, or are we justified?
Fear of the “known unknown” — rapists, kidnappers, murderers, has driven us to safeguard our children much more. I would argue that they rise of the known-unknowns could be an outcrop of the diminishing family size, progressively excluding aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and grandparents [referred to in Western Culture as “Extended Family”], and collapsing into a nuclear family of mom, dad, plus one or two children. Additionally family is increasingly “private and estranged from community relationships and neighborhood watch.

Back in the days, a child belonged to the community, which kept a watchful eye, disciplined, freely interacted and played with one another. Today, our children need [in]formal permission, an invitation and scheduled playdate with the neighbor’s child. We are scared of our neighbor(s), do not always know our neighbor, and have replaced innocent trust with restraint. The neighbor [though not all neighbors] is no longer looking out to protect but harm our children and restrict our children’s play.

Ironically, the “fear of thy neighbor,” has undermined our much celebrated “neighborhood watch,” diminished social responsibility to protect our kids, instead churning out more predators with harmful and malicious intent and practices in our neighborhoods. We as neighbors are distancing ourselves further away from each another, with a diminishing obligation to commit and love one other.

Nothing speaks to the shrinking “modern family” size, values and protection than the ‘disappearance’ of blood relatives in raising our children. Not even the unconditional support of family in raising our children, can be taken for granted anymore! Grandparents and younger siblings are no longer “automatic babysitters” for our children; they have lives to live! Growing up, I babysat my nieces and nephews, supported my older siblings households without question, protest or bitterness.

Today, the true meaning of family is not a social network you can take for granted, or a social guarantor of love and support, unconditionally. Family is now a site of wary, each on collision course of survival for the fittest. Parents are struggling to stay afloat on their own, as the main guardians of their children, sometimes separately.

The expectation that every parent contributes to parenting, regardless and with no emphasis on how much overt love was expressed toward the children. Now, the phenomenon of absentee father is a huge blight on parenting, and the survival and proper functioning of families, The absentee father is not only non-custodial, but also pops in and out of his child’s life at own convenience, or lives-in with both child and child’s mother, but is more focused on his own life than family welfare.

Thus, the rise of the “Helicopter Parent(s),” not primarily to outpace others children in a survival for the fittest, but also to compensate for the burden and responsibility of raising children as single parent and/or without the additional support of relatives and society. Helicopter parents are as much concerned about the future success of our children and ability to stay afloat in a cut-throat world.

Yet, we are constant bombarded with parenting practices, suggestive but guilt-tripping us, national laws and policies to adhere to, ‘concerned neighbors’ and ‘social watchers’ quick to condemn our parenting skills, and tell on us to the authorities, because in their view, we are not good parents.

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Re-testing my Mental Stamina

I am re-experimenting with my mental stamina. I am sure you are surprised that I say, “I am re-testing my mental stamina!” Especially if you know me, since I am always testing oneself. After all, my running routines are always a mental test; going out for five miles, and coming back 20 miles later! Running in single digit temperatures, after a snowstorm and the hottest of summer. Even my family balancing acts are a mental test with the relations involved, the activities I engaged in, the people I am around and my commitment to super-excellence for my son [who, bless his soul!] sometimes I think I am demanding too much of him😘).

Anyway, this experiment, which is now a day old, going on two today is not exactly new in my life. Though it has been a while since I did and kept to it with perfection. That was when my child was a toddler, and I had more flexibility, and more support managing and caring for him. I did not have the daily routine of cooking, cleaning, bathing and caring for me. I had family to support (that time I lived in Uganda). I had people who really cared and supported me, and I could genuinely count on!

Right now, I am the father and mother and grandma and cousin. I am the unassisted and overwhelmed jack-of-all-trade! At a time when my geographical, economic and social spaces are completely weighing down my emotional, mental and physical stability. I am very good at shrugging off visible pains and agony in the public, trying not to hang personal linen out in the public.

For my own sanity, and to spare my son and my family’s name. I use mental health to dissuade myself from going crazy, bitter or tumble into a permanent wreck. I will go on a run to recover from a slump, to clear my mind and break anew. To remove myself from a situation or from peoples causing sadness and grief to me, and to feel good about myself. In sum, I run for fun, to feel wild, free, young, liberated and centered. I consciously avoid self-labeling as “depressed”, to avoid getting trapped into any such a situation. Yet, I cannot stop myself from self-labeling as, “flabby and nasty looking”, if that is how I feel, increasingly more and more.

I went through a]nother] life transformation last year, to live a life [again] for my son. Of course change is not always desirable or positive. Certain change is painful!, extremely painful! Particularly, one that causes loss of all safety-nets, and increases chances of dependence, vulnerability and shame. Story of my life. So, for the last year, I have transfigured, stuck in the mud and tasted lots of bitter tomatoes. All that packaged in a “nutty professor suit”, and increasingly weighing me down and under! I am trying to get myself out of the ditch, using my very best adornment – mental willpower. Hopefully, I will succeed in fighting off all the temptations.

Yesterday, Tuesday, October 28 was the first full day of the beginning of a re-experimenting on myself. Mission accomplished! I did not feel any special cravings or uncontrollable desires, surprisingly! And yes, I had to run my childcare shift: pick up from school bus, to Taekwon-do/Taekwondo class, then back home. I felt quite weak and tired throughout the day, but did not have the opportunity to take a nap. Yes! I also dosed off while typing up these notes, and fell asleep again in Taekwondo class. Good thing, I woke up in time to drive back home. Did good on that.

Homework had to be done, and dinner prepared. Too low on sugar, but mission accomplished. I literally could not stand anything or anyone. But drank water and stayed the course. Hopefully, this is doable for many more days! I wanna try 20, couple of many days. We’ll see how it goes. Otherwise, Day Two (Wednesday, October 29) is going  much better. I am still going on #Teamu20days challenge.