Can it be that we parents may unknowingly be impeding our children’s abilities to form strong relationships later in life? This thought came to me after speaking to numerous parents and young adults themselves in the shidduch parshah. Stories of frustration, lack of responsibility and an inability to give of one’s time wholeheartedly were part of our conversation.
What can we do now while raising our children to help them better navigate their future?
Of course, we begin with tefillah. While at a child’s bris, we daven “l’Torah, ul’chuppah, ul’maasim tovim.” We are holding an infant in our arms and already mentioning the chuppah. It is never too early to daven for our children’s future or their bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael. It has always been interesting to me to note that we mention chuppah before maasim tovim, because it is only after a child has married that we can truly see if middos have been inculcated. Living with a spouse and creating a life together is the true test of character. Until now it didn’t really matter if you put the cap back on the orange juice or finished the last bit of cereal in the box. But now those little actions will require thought. How will my every deed affect the person I have chosen to build my home with?
What are the habits that many children are raised with, creating unforeseen obstacles when they are older?
We’ve all heard of helicopter parenting. Drone parenting is “helicopter parenting on steroids”—parents who are a constant presence in their child’s life, trying to remove any strain or hardship. Of course we want our children to be happy, successful and thriving. The issue is when parents try to micromanage their children’s lives, not allowing them to experience disappointment or handle stress. Real life means that there will be times when you need to dig deep. You will taste failure, hurt and pain. You will have to work hard. There will be moments when you feel as if you are in a pressure cooker. Sometimes you will need to make decisions that require fortitude. You will have to “make do” with certain classroom situations or not being in the bunk of your choice. Maybe you will not get the part that you wanted in the play, or be on the team with your friends. Now what?
Drone parents silently try to fix every situation. They may complete their child’s homework assignment or dominate their school projects so that they receive the best grade possible. They spend Visiting Day making sure that their child’s bed is next to that of their best friend, and they call the principal or the camp director until their child gets what they desire. They will inappropriately try to arrange social gatherings for their child, instead of allowing them to form their own plans. (I am not speaking about a child with poor social skills who needs intervention and guidance.)
Why this is a problem: Children require the ability to make real decisions and deal with life situations with wisdom and independence. They cannot expect parents to take care of every detail and manipulate each disappointment. Learning to navigate a relationship requires the fortitude that comes from overcoming obstacles. If a child has not dealt with difficult circumstances, he will not be able to handle the ups and downs that every relationship brings. He will be lost the first moment that things do not go as expected.