Summer Camp in NH: The Cure For Helicopter ParentingNovember 20, 2013
The term “helicopter parent” gets thrown around a lot these days. When it entered Webster’s a few years back the definition given was “a parent who is overly involved in the life of his or her child.” Like me, you probably see it in some of your neighbors or at school pickup or even in your sister-in-law. Thankfully, we don’t see many helicopter parents in our summer camp in NH.
Recently, I was reading an article on CNN.com about how the first group of children raised by helicopter parents has grown into adults entering the workforce…with helicopter parents. Parents are showing up at job interviews or calling their 20-something’s boss to complain about a poor performance review. Not surprisingly, employers are making it clear that this outside influence is not only unwelcome, but an impediment to talented young people getting (or remaining) hired.
Nicole Williams, an employer quoted in the article is trying to warn parents. “You are not doing your kid any favors. Encourage them to share their fears, thoughts and ideas with you after hours and you can absolutely do the same. But make it clear that he/she has to form and express their own opinions and create their own experiences in order to build professional confidence and respect.”
All parents share the desire to protect their kids from harm. It’s a good and necessary trait. But as the parent of two young children I know that I also have to fight my own impulse to intervene every time I see one of my sons experiencing a moment of adversity. And I don’t always get it right. Finding the balance of when to let our kids make their own mistakes, and when to run in and make it all better, is something I think all parents struggle with every day. It’s an ever-evolving dynamic between parent and child.
Aaron Cooper, a clinical psychologist from Northwestern University, is also quoted in this article. In it he warns against parents becoming overinvolved in solving their tween and teen’s problems. His concern is that “it’s almost like a soft disability in their lives”, with young people eventually becoming unable to thrive independent of their parents.
This helicopter parenting dynamic is “making it hard to develop resilience, self-sufficiency and autonomy,” Cooper said. “If they [children] have not developed the resilience by their teenage years, we don’t know if they will ever develop it.” It appears that fighting too many battles for our children sends a subtle but undeniable message to them: they are unable to fight them on their own. We are feeding a mindset of inadequacy.
As the parent that last quote terrifies me. I’m certainly not a helicopter parent, but I am very involved in my kids lives. What can loving, attentive, well-meaning parents do to prepare their children for the outside world? How do we raise children with the tools to not only move out of the house and enter the workforce, but thrive when so many of their peers will not? The answer, in part, is overnight camp.
There is no other area of American life that is so able to provide the skills of independence, resilience, adaptability, flexible thinking, and the ability to collaborate in groups. Quality overnight camps do this in environments dedicated to the physical and emotional safety of children. Making overnight camp available to your child is a gift that will profoundly and positively impact the rest of his or her life.
We’re not the only ones who have noticed this. Major companies like Apple, Intel, and Lego have begun to recognize that the youngest segment of the workforce has major deficiencies when it comes to these skills, and they are beginning to turn to overnight camps like Kenwood and Evergreen in NH for help. They are acknowledging that a young person who regularly spent summers away from home, either as a camper or a counselor, is better prepared to succeed in today’s competitive business climate than someone who was constantly under parental observation.
As you look for ways to give your child the competitive edge, not being a helicopter parent isn’t enough. The real advantage is giving your child the gift of a life outside of your home in an environment dedicated to nurturing your child’s life skills. Camps Kenwood & Evergreen in NH is just that sort of place. We invite you to learn more about us and the incredible work we do with some of the world’s future innovators and leaders.