I’ve just finished reading a really well written post on over-protective parenting, Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail, by Jessica Lahey, an English, Latin, and writing teacher. It’s a post all parents, educators, business people, and mostly children need to read.
Parenting is one of those things (there are many) that we do primarily in the moment. It’s an all consuming activity that rarely gives us space and time to reflect and contemplate what we might be doing, and not doing? It starts every day as you open your eyes, and mostly ends as you close them again at the end of a very full and busy day. The result of this ‘always in the moment’ existence is a lack of perspective. We’re so busy getting the job done that we don’t pause to consider the value of parenting gone by, and what our children need from our parenting going forward? We climb onto the great ‘parenting hamster wheel’ and we go go go, using every resource in our arsenal to simply survive each moment.
The post by Jessica Lahey focusses on the overprotective parenting styles our children are exposed to, and what she sees as the probable results and outcomes for our children in their adult years.
The stories teachers exchange these days reveal a whole new level of overprotectiveness: parents who raise their children in a state of helplessness and powerlessness, children destined to an anxious adulthood, lacking the emotional resources they will need to cope with inevitable setback and failure.
The danger in reading this post is that you conclude that this is a problem of ‘today’s parents’. It’s not. This overprotective parenting style has existed for some time now. I hear the helpless stories of managers in business today. As today’s young people (20-35) enter the workplace, the warnings of Jessica Lahey have already arrived, and are playing themselves out daily, right now. Managers and leaders asking why they feel they need to ‘parent’ their current set of talented employees.
Overprotective parenting hasn’t made today’s young workers stupid. Most of them are amazingly talented. It’s as Jessica Lahey points out in her concluding paragraph. Today’s younger workforce don’t know……
how to roll with the punches, find their way through the gauntlet of (extended) adolescence, and stand firm in the face of the challenges — challenges that have the power to transform today’s young adults into resourceful, competent, and confident adults.