As I evolve, I find my writing more and more frequently focuses on whiskey and fatherhood. Surely there is no correlation. That came to mind as I sipped bourbon and read this article on helicopter parents vs. free range kids (h/t GLP.)
But in their defense, helicopter kids are our future, because career-building, safety, and a fetish for the long-term, early on, are popular themes nowadays. It’s the offspring of the on-top-of-things that make for the flesh and blood of the professional class, i.e. the people who run shit. Brink Lindsey, writing at The Atlantic, complains that the only thing wrong with helicopter parents is that there just aren’t enough of them. He praises their excessive, even “comical” attention to their kids:
“Starting in the 1990s parents began spending significantly more time with their kids,” he tells us. “And there is evidence that the very nature of their parenting style is good for grooming productive workers.”
There are a few piles of bullshit to remove, so excuse me while I grab my shovel.
Pile the first: Apples don’t fall far from the tree. Parents who run shit tend to pass on genes that predispose one to running shit as well as model solid shit-running behavior. Sure, nurture matters, but more as an amplifier than a creator.
Pile the second: Perhaps there aren’t enough helicopter parents, insofar as many kids don’t have parents plural, but if you’ve taken your kids to the playground, their compatriots aren’t suffering from a lack of cloying supervision.
Pile the third: Spending time with kids may be about managing their every minute. Or it may just be spending time with your kids and trying to prevent them from mortally injuring themselves. There are lots of people who don’t run shit, really don’t run shit, who spend large amounts of time with their kids. Those kids are likely not future ambassadors. Apple. Tree.
Pile the fourth: Lindsay the liberaltarian, look it up, really wrote “grooming productive workers.” I’ve nothing against inculcating realistic and admirable goals–I’m raising my daughters to be wives–but, dude, seriously. We’re not China. Yet.
In short, helicopter parenting isn’t a noble strategy, it’s scarcity mentality. It’s oneitis. You spawn after peak fertility–only once–and rickroll your life.
Alas, your efforts are mostly for naught. Apples. Trees. So sit back, pour a glass, and stop trying to control everything. If you’re sentient enough to worry about such matters, your kids will likely be just fine. And if they don’t turn out to be compliant little productive workers, if they develop enough independence to think and to question, then pour yourself a double.