Rachel Figueroa Levin’s daughter Adi enjoys painting without her mother’s help. (Photo/Rachel Figueroa Levin)

Urban baby blog: On (not) being a helicopter parent

I enrolled my daughter in an art class. Because she’s so young, the class is “mommy and me” so I’m there too, with all the other moms (and nannies). While I was at her first class, I noticed something that made me fear for the future of this country and its economy. That sounds a bit dramatic. I noticed something that freaked me out a bit. Adi was the only kid in the class who was doing art. Why? Because Adi was the only kid in the class who was allowed to draw, and paint. Why? Because every other parent there was hovering over their toddler, drawing shapes for them, mixing paint colors, guiding their hand while they painted, and otherwise micromanaging the design and implementation of a toddler’s art work. It took me by surprise. Adi is old enough to be micromanaged now. Why would anyone want to do that? I spent every minute until now with an infant-turned-baby. Now that toddler Adi can do things for herself I can finally take a break!

We’ve all heard the term “helicopter parenting”. Every few months a study comes out about how today’s high school graduates are incapable of functioning as adults, because they are incapable of making decisions, or doing things by themselves.  All throughout their lives, these kids have had everything done for them. Homework, playdate scheduling, typing book reports, arranging for job interviews, EVERYTHING. They can’t even go to the playground without a parent 5 inches behind them helping them do the monkey bars, build a sandcastle, or play catch with another child. No wonder today’s kids can’t do anything.

I’ll admit. I have a couple of knowledge gaps as an adult because my parents always did some things for me as a kid. I can’t iron clothes. That’s a less then accurate statement. I might be able to. I’ve never tried. I’ve never ironed anything. I don’t know how to use an iron; I barely know how one works. There’s water or something right? At first I wasn’t allowed to iron because I could burn my hand, then as I got older I never  ironed because I didn’t know how and could burn the clothes. Then I married someone whose family owned a laundromat, so my husband (who’s an expert) does all the ironing. I need to make sure Adi learns how to iron, so that when she gets older she can marry for love and not laundry skills. Also so that she can do my ironing, you know, because I can’t.

Back in art class, Adi is the only kid with intervention-free art work. She’s also the only kid who can draw a circle. Probably because she’s the only kid who’s held a crayon independently long enough to figure out how to draw one. Adi doesn’t need my help to paint a picture. She doesn’t want my help to paint a picture. During class I sit back, read the newspaper, and catch up on twitter- glancing every so often over to Adi to make sure she isn’t drinking the paint. I notice the other moms giving me the “bad mom” look for “ignoring” my kid, but it doesn’t bother me. Their mindless drone spawns will one day be working for my child. That sounds a bit dramatic.

Parents, please, for the sake of our country, take a step back and let your kid figure out-by himself-how to draw a circle.

Urban baby blog: On (not) being a helicopter parent   rachel levin figueroa nbc parenting family NBC Latino News

Rachel Figueroa-Levin is a soapmaker, cofounder and educator at Urban Babywearing, a hyperlocal Inwood blogger and organizer, a political/life/religion/parenting satirist, and all around trouble maker.  She is also the creator New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Spanish-speaking alter ego @elbloombito.  You can reach her via twitter @Jewyorican. 

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