We are all familiar with stage moms and dads, helicopter moms, and CCTV dads. Now, given the increasing state of parenting paranoia, there are drone moms and dads.
Drone parents possess a much more precise and real-time surveillance over their children. Drones, unlike helicopters, can fly lower, make less noise and unlike CCTVs, are more flexible in flight height and altitude coverage.
Obviously, reference to this drone mode is only a metaphor of extreme parenting concern. It would be unlikely, and it would be sad and crazy, if parents literally monitored their children using real drones.
What then are some manifestations of being a drone parent? Here are a few examples:
- Gratisfaction. Gratis means free. Although there’s no such thing as a free lunch, at least there’s instant service and delivery. Parents also want to speedily gratify their children’s requests. But this attitude also holds for some parents who want to be efficiently relieved of the bother their children are with their unceasing material wants.
- Pretzel and carrot. The pretzel has substituted the stick! Giving children their carrot is easy, but giving them the stick of a ‘no’ is not. Parents may not realize that today’s ‘no’ is in fact, a ‘yes’ to prepare their child’s character for tomorrow’s challenges. Unable to bear their children’s grimacing reaction at a ‘no’, they offer them the ‘pretzel’ or a soft conditional ‘no’: if you do this or that, then you may do as/get what you want!
- Skills like SEALs. “In the end, it’s all about equipping them to face and survive the harsh future awaiting them.” This is how many drone parents reason out. So they closely and meticulously monitor their children and hyper-hone them into almost anything imaginable: math, art, dance, computers, and more. But like some SEALs, they may win the battles in war, but lamentably lose it at home when they were not trained for family bonding and affection.
- Selfielomania. With the skills come the glorified selfie! In order to push their kids to their achieving limits, praises over them (even just for participation rewards) must always be showered. After all, ‘praises will get them places!’ But this artificial priming of their children’s ego does nothing but to bolster their sense of entitlement. It breeds a generation that easily buckles at the real failures and disappointments of life and their consequences.
What can drone parents do to minimize this paranoid surveillance of their children?
- Essentials are invisible to the eye. Teach the children through example, that the more valuable things of life aren’t available over the counter. For example, love, forgiveness, patience, humility, etc.
- Learning how and when to say no. One extreme is simply saying NO! The golden mean would be using a NO as a bridge to communicate more with them. Explaining the why behind it, and what they will get out of it, perhaps not now but in the future.
- More than skills. Skills yes, but balanced with the other realities of the person: his heart, temperament and the responsible use of their freedom! Hyper-honing may backfire, as children find no inner fulfillment to everything they have learned because these were simply forced upon them.
- Bracing against over-praise. Praise is good, but it cannot be unrealistically employed to make children think they are not capable of making mistakes or failures. Moreover, it is more formative when it is given not to them, but for what they have done for the good of others in the family and society.
Striving in these points may help us to land and switch off our drones, and with our feet on the ground, able to memorably journey with our children towards their personal maturity and growth.