Mentors #4

The third reason: the helicopter parent.  (Hara Marano, author of Nation of Wimps, argues that even the helicopter parent is now passé, having been replaced by the “snowplow” parent or even the “curling” parent – now there’s an imagery for you!)

In my talks to high school seniors, I have echoed New York Times columnist David Brooks’ assertion that “this is the most supervised generation in American history.”  Not only are parents the primary managers in their kids’ lives, all too often they are virtually their only mentors.  Furthermore, during their kids’ high school years, many contemporary parents, intentionally or not, have driven other mentors away from their children.

Therefore, not only do I urge all parents to avoid hanging around campus after dropping their children off at college, I beseech them to encourage their children to seek out new mentors, be they professors, coaches, theatrical play directors, and so on.  By the same token it’s important for their children to take the initiative to, well… stalk mentors.  After all, they need to internalize the fact that after they get to college mentors probably won’t be looking for them.

At any good high school, teachers are encouraged to keep an eye out for kids who could use a helping hand. Whether responding to a broken romance or an impending divorce at home, high school teachers often help teenagers more than they (the teenagers) realize.  In college, they will need to construct their own support system.  This can be threatening for parents, especially those who have hovered more than they (the parents) realize.

So, Mom & Dad… step out of the way and allow it to happen!

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld