LivingParenting & Education

Helicopter Parenting Back in the Discussion

By Fatema Agarkar

With the talk of extended lockdowns, and perhaps school closure for a longer period of time, parents are recognising that the C virus continues to doggedly test their patience, resilience, and priorities as they cope with the uncertainty around. Those families that have supported virtual learning, and work with synchronous and asynchronous school schedules of their children while managing their own work routines and house-hold chores find themselves conflicted at times about how much effort are they required to put in, how much do they monitor children schedules, how do they maintain the normalcy at home while making the most of lockdown times, and let’s not forget the fatigue factor. Everyone is experiencing it – students, teachers, and parents, and this constant battle between what is ideal, and what is workable, creates an aspiration dilemma and leads to a deadlock.

Helicopter parenting (as we discussed this in the physical world) is doing rounds again with some parents determined to optimise, conscious that months are rolling by, and keen to make this journey as effective as it can possibly be, they would like to capitalise every moment. These parents were invested in best-in-class practices that enable children to “be-ahead”, empower their children with all kinds of exposure and if in the physical world, they found their own child “disadvantaged” in any way, they decided that they needed to intervene and resolve problems. Wellmeaning, often parents pushed their child, controlled and micro-managed, making children successful but also largely dependent on them for all the answers to problems. One does wonder, how this is an advantage, or in the long run would it hamper the progress of their children to become well balanced and independent adults?

This continuing trend in lockdown times and with virtual learning is rather disturbing and dangerous, and teachers have reported parents prompting their children to give the right answers to questions, often in extended discussions with teachers about personalising content taught (which must be revised because the child does not log in on time and the child cannot lag behind academically), and essentially programming every minute of the child’s day with a series of routines, protocols that do not allow the children to experience or express what’s normal. This desire not to lose out may lead to fatigue in the long run.

While routines are essential, parents will need to take a step back to allow for a few days of simply not doing every activity in the book – from yoga to ballet, from soccer to cricket, from academic school schedules to tuitions after school, from competitive exams, and contests, from book reading to music and baking to theatre appreciation – there’s too much packed into a day. This “outsourcing” of all activities to normalise cannot be advantageous for the child through lockdown times. Children may need to slow down and process, communicate, and have chances of making a few mistakes, experimenting, and learning to work out solutions to their problems.

This will make children more realistic, adaptable, learn to trust their abilities to make decisions or face consequences for them, become more confident and perhaps more all-rounded that virtually moving from one activity or class to another to make sure they finish “best-in-class”. The recently announced National Education Policy in its documentation categorically states that we want a generation of thinkers, creators, and developers and not simply a generation that churns out results and not adults that are not life-ready. Life-ready does not come with a text-book definition, it must be experienced and at times, leading your own path, and not always having it done for you is the difference being socially, emotionally secure, and a balanced person or one that becomes part of the rat race which we all know can cause life-threatening changes.

The pandemic must teach parents leaning towards this path that mental health and wellbeing is critical, no child will be left behind and there are bonus points for embracing information and activities that are age-appropriate and allow children to be.

Routines and essential agreements are important must so is allowing the child the freedom to express and the right to say no. It is an investment for their future and what you put in, will be harvested and control in any form can lead to up to a point only.

Enable them, empower them and this is not with a schedule that makes them the brightest. Rethink the definition of being intelligent and wise, and you will know, the latter will be happier.

  About the Author

Fatema Agarkar, is an Educationist and Founder of ACE

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