The parenting model discussed in “I Am A Helicopter Parent—And I Don’t Apologize” by Elisabeth Fairfield Stokes presents one of the newer forms of parenting styles today that has been at the core of much debate on parenting. While some may see helicoptering children as detrimental to the child in their growth and maturity, there are valid reasons and benefits to this style of parenting. The parenting model studied in “I Am A Helicopter Parent—And I Don’t Apologize” by Elisabeth Fairfield Stokes is a controversial issue; however, as it is a reaction to the violence encountered in today’s world, it offers a new level of protection and guidance to children that perhaps they need, more so than in other times in history.
The helicoptering parent today receives much criticism. However, Stokes argues that, in “the face of what seems like utter madness in the world at large,” demanding civility for children is the least that can be expected (Stokes, 1). Since the author’s own childhood occurred in an era of threatening nuclear war, violence on television and in the news, and bullying, the world, for the most part, has not improved in safety. In fact, many would argue that the world has only deteriorated more, particularly affecting the younger generations.
In a modern day era of school shootings, bombings, violent threats, and terrorism, it is not surprising that parents today would develop a more protective style of parenting. After all, their children are the future, and to ensure their success means to ensure the future itself. When raising children and reflecting on one’s own past childhood, is “cultural trauma” really necessary or beneficial to children growing up? (Stokes, 1). For this reason, it is more understandable as to why parents may adapt this style of parenting.
While parents who are labeled as “overprotective” may be seen as crippling their own children, the outcome is not always directly connected to the cultivation of independence: a quality the author seems to emphasize in the rearing of her own children. This is reinforced with Stokes’ belief that “Equipping them [children] for self-sufficiency does not, in my mind, require exposure therapy to all that is wrong with the world” (Stokes, 1). In this way, being overprotective or ‘coddling’ is not conducive to a lack of self-sufficiency; rather, it effectively diminishes too much exposure to the world’s negativity, while still allowing children to see the larger workings of the world.
An example of how important overprotective measures can be is demonstrated by the story of the author’s child, when the author was first learning how to parent school-aged children. The evolution of the author’s parenting is shown here, as she initially tried to accept and help her child cope with a teacher that she struggled with in class. However, the author found out later that she had “overlooked the damage that was being done” (Stokes, 1). As very concerned parents, they found out that their daughter had been poorly treated the entire time, leading to a very damaged self-esteem and requiring therapy. As such, helicopter parenting became a necessity.
It is difficult to not wonder how, if more parents adopted this style of parenting, if we would see less damaged children overall in today’s world. So many children come from poor or damaged homes, are educated inadequately, face ceaseless bullying, and battle self-esteem issues. Those who do not helicopter parent their children, as the author previously had believing that her daughter should learn some social survival skills, may miss the “clear warning signs” of significant problems or issues (Stokes, 1). Perhaps if even a lesser version of helicopter parenting was utilized by parents, maybe an appropriate balance could be found by protecting them adequately and ensuring their stability, while also allowing some room for self-maturation.
Caring about children to an extent such as this that involves helicopter parenting may not be as detrimental as naysayers may claim. Demonstrating this high level of care and concern for not only one’s own children, but everyone else’s children, may provide the necessary level of protection that is required in an era filled with violence, school shootings, and terrorism. As the author states, “I care about protecting all of our children, not just mine” (Stokes, 1). It is difficult to fault this style of parenting, as it encompasses a concern for the larger world and children’s futures, and also the future of the world. Perhaps the fault does not belong to the helicopter parents; rather, it is a fault of the larger world that has led to this result.
In summary, the helicopter parenting model may receive much criticism today; however, it is a reaction to the violence in today’s world, ushering in a new, higher level of protection that children today may very well need. While some may claim that this style of parenting is crippling to children and their overall development, it can be argued that there are valid advantages to this style of parenting, such as ensuring children’s self-esteem and overall wellbeing. As stated previously, perhaps it is not the helicopter parents that are at fault and merit this criticism, but instead the larger world that has driven parents to be so protective.
- Stokes, Elisabeth Fairfield. “I Am A Helicopter Parent–And I Don’t Apologize.” Time. Time Online. 21 Oct. 2014.