Now that winter weather has finally set in, I’ve continued my daily walks with my dog, Bandit. Although he was neutered, he never got the memo, so it does look a little silly for such a macho dog to wear a green striped sweater that makes him look like his name should be Mr. Whiskers.
I’ve always treated family pets like fuzzy people, something my children picked up. Sometimes, that’s not good. On the master bathroom tub, I keep a large seashell for rinsing my hair. When the children were babies, I washed them with it as a daily reminder of baptism.
Yesterday I saw my daughter run through the house, seashell in hand. My sons sprinted behind her, and my maternal alarm rang. I vaulted up the stairs to see my daughter baptizing our kitten. I delivered the talk that, yes, Piki has a soul, but no, we don’t wash cats.
Situation changes everything.
My mother was perhaps the first helicopter parent; she carted me from ballet to piano to voice to Girl Scouts. At age eight, I remember telling my priest how stressed out I was. Today, many moms still want to give their kids ballet classes that cost $200 every two months. Taking kids to The Right Place enhances Yuppie mom cred.
But different cultures demand different skills. A recent article in the Yemen Times argues women shouldn’t drive cars because only a few have “serious errands, so…they waste money for nothing.” Maged Thabet Al-Kholidy, the article’s author, claims a woman “with a weak heart” fainted after a fender bender he witnessed.
Consider what would happen to your family if Mom couldn’t drive. Your family would probably die.
In our precarious economy, I predict survival will favor people capable of building networks and the community. Helicopter parenting in these conditions would consist of helping others, which costs nothing and teaches children stronger character than $200 ballet lessons.
Many helicopter parents wrongly associate intelligence with book learning, neglecting the work of Howard Gardner, who identified eight types of intelligence. Two are interpersonal–dealing with others–and intrapersonal–understanding yourself.
So start a resolution of teaching children ways to be smart you might have neglected before. During daily walks, take kids to pick up trash around the neighborhood, or bake cookies for the offices of community groups. My girlfriend Gracia Dudlicek takes her sons to the Humane Society to play with the animals.
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