The Nanny State: Is Obama a Helicopter Parent?

A very ridiculous thing it is, that any man should dispense with vice and wickedness in himself, which is in his power to restrain; and should go about to suppress it in others, which is altogether impossible. Marcus Aurelius

He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.  John 8:7

Happiness is a warm puppy. Charles Schultz

DSCN06212000 years ago, the Romans and the Christians could agree on one thing, anyway. It was the people’s job to govern their own conduct. Now, governing our conduct is what the government does. So what kind of a parent have we foisted on ourselves?

Back when I was growing up, there were two kinds of parents: yours and everybody else’s. You either got the luck of the draw, or you didn’t. People didn’t spend a lot of time discovering their parenting styles. They were too busy shooing their kids out the door (“and don’t come back until the street lights come on!”), so they could enjoy a little peace and quiet.

As I was raising my own son, three types of parenting styles were in vogue: authoritarian, permissive, and authoritative. The authoritarian parent is just what he sounds like: the person in authority. He is in control; he tells the children what to do, how to behave. He demands respect and punishes disobedience. He prefers bribery to reason; and has high expectations that are almost impossible to meet. This parent ends up with a neurotic child who constantly afraid, and who acts in secret for fear of being caught.

The permissive parent is more like the child. He exerts no control, lets the child run wild, and does anything to avoid confrontation. This parent cannot figure out that his child is  constantly breaking the rules in an effort to get some kind of reaction out of him.

The  authoritative parent (or as I like to call him, the Goldilocks parent) sets rational rules, explaining his reasoning to his children so that they can learn to reason themselves. He allows dissent within the ranks, so long as it isn’t life-threatening. This parent enjoys the company of a balanced, considerate child.

To round things out, the experts added the uninvolved parent. ‘Nuff said.

I see that I am way behind the times. There are now 8 more ways to parent. A few more years, and there’ll be a parenting style for every parent on the planet. (Which makes sense, if you think about it…)

The old four parenting styles were just observations about general behavior, but the new categories are divided into good ways to parent, and—see if you can guess from their titles.

The new categories of parenting are: Positive Parenting, Attachment Parenting, Unconditional Parenting, Spiritual Parenting, Slow Parenting (which makes me think of a parent sitting on the couch, watching the kids tear around the room, trying to decide whether to get up and chase them, or just throw a shoe), Helicopter Parenting (now this I’ve heard of), Narcissistic Parenting (the only reason people have children is to send a piece of themselves into history), and (finally!) Toxic Parenting.

Let’s see if we can figure out how our elected parents are treating us, their Peter Pans. Positive Parenting, or the Pollyanna complex, always sees the good in people, even when they are acting outside prescribed behavior norms. If we just explain that their actions are hurting our feelings, eventually they’ll understand that we are deserving of respect, too, and they’ll stop being mean.

Hmmm. This sounds a lot like the approach we’ve taken toward, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Libya….

Attachment parenting focuses on meeting the child’s needs as soon as possible, resulting in the child feeling secure. Maybe what Mr. Obama was shooting for, but I think he’s confused needs with wants. Satisfying your child’s needs is a good thing. Figuring out and satisfying his every want sounds more like pandering.

The Unconditional Parent praises the child, no matter what. The child learns to behave, not because of learning, but in order to receive the reward. This is definitely the approach used in our educational system. See how well it works?

Spiritual Parenting allows the child space to discover his own beliefs. The parent merely acts as role model. Definitely not applicable!

Slow Parenting allows the child to unfold at his own pace. Not so much.

Helicopter Parents distrust their children’s ability to take care of themselves, so they constantly jump in and interfere. Now I think we’re getting somewhere. (By the way, this is considered to a bad way to parent).

Narcissistic Parenting is the updated version of living vicariously through your children, or keeping up with the Joneses. I don’t think that Mr. Obama parades the U.S. citizens around the world as paragons of anything.

Toxic Parenting is a kind of catchall for bad parenting. The child starts to believe that he has a problem, then that he is the problem. He finally decides that there is something wrong with him. The end result is loss of self-esteem and self-worth. Is this really the direction we want our nation to head?

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Filed under Critical Thinking, Education, Elections, Politics, Self-help

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