What type of parent are you?

June 20, 2018 | Boys’ Preparatory

Are you the Helicopter parent?


………or perhaps are you the Snowplough parent, the Bubble wrap parent, the Karaoke parent, the Dry Cleaner parent or the Volcano Parent? Maybe the Tiger parent, the Dolphin parent or the Jellyfish parent?

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” – Frederick Douglass

Most parents I meet want to be good parents. They want the ‘best’ for the children. I have children myself – I get it. I want my children to thrive, in fact I want them to ‘be better than I am’. It is a fine line, however, between mothering and smothering; fathering and bothering. 

In her book “How to raise an adult” author Julie Lythcott-Haimes demonstrates that ‘over-parenting’ doesn’t only threaten a child’s future income, it also does major psychological harm. She cites a 2011 study done by the University of Tennessee which found a correlation, in university students, between over-parenting and medication for anxiety or depression. Other studies have shown that ‘over-parented’ children are ‘less open to new ideas’ and have ‘less satisfaction in life’. In her TED talk, she speaks of a check-listed childhood, where we as parents are more interested in creating our defined parameters (the check boxes), than allowing our children to thrive and flourish. “We speak of dreams as boundless, limitless realms. But in reality often we create parameters, conditions and limits within which our kids are permitted to dream – with a check-listed childhood as the path to achievement.” 

Surely this is counter-intuitive to what we want as parents? Much research has shown that positive parenting during childhood has been linked to many indices of positive adjustment in children. However, if not developmentally appropriate, over-parenting can be associated with higher levels of child anxiety and depression.

Much of my reading comes from Dr Tim Elmore. He is the founder and president of Growing Leaders, an international non-profit organization created to develop emerging leaders. Tim has written more than 25 books, including the best-selling Habitudes: Images that Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes, Artificial Maturity: Helping Kids Meet the Challenge of Becoming Authentic Adults, Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future, Life Giving Mentors, and Nurturing the Leader Within Your Child. 

He listed some harmful parenting styles in his weekly blog of 6 June 2018. 

The snowplough parent. These are parents who push, negotiate, intimidate and manipulate others to ensure that the ‘doors’ open for their children. They don’t allow their children the privilege of learning to fail and persevere. They tend to be over-functioning and want to micromanage their children and find it difficult to trust others to deal with those that they hold dear.


The karaoke parent. These are parents who want to look and sound like their children, to be cool and with it. Sadly these parents don’t offer their children the boundaries and authority that they need – the parameters that build security and esteem. Children don’t require their parents to be cool, they need them to be real.


The dry cleaner parent. Dry cleaner parents abdicate their parental responsibilities to ‘experts’ to fix them – the school, psychologists, councillors etc. They neglect the mentoring and authentic face-to-face time that their children require.


The volcano parent. These parents burst into a rage, like a volcano, when the pressure is on. Very often they attempt to live out their unlived lives through their children. They often have unrealised dreams from their past – at times an unhealthy past. These parents are often quick to ‘moan’.


Bubble-wrap parent. In an article “Helicopter, Snowplough and Bubble-wrap parenting – how is anxiety transmitted from parents to their children”, author Graham Davey suggests that anxious parents often, unwittingly, transmit their anxiety onto their children. Mothers who express their fears in their children’s presence had children with the highest levels of self-reported fears. Interestingly, this effect of a mother’s expressed anxiety on their offspring’s fears was not found for fathers – it was entirely specific to mothers. 

Dr. Shimi Kang is an award-winning, Harvard-trained doctor, researcher, media-expert, writer, and keynote speaker. She is the author of The Dolphin Parent: A Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Self-Motivated Kids and The Self Motivated Kid. She came to the conclusion that children were being deprived of the simple, intuitive things they need. 

Among these are three essential activities she calls POD – Play, bond with Others, and have Downtime. 

“It gave me an awakening that we are really in a crisis. We were focusing more on the outside resume of the child and not on the inside – the creativity, connection, character, and values of the individual.”
She knew, whether as a parent, educator, colleague, or manager, pushing/hovering “tigers” and directionless/permissive “jellyfish” hinder internal drive and adaptability.

Dr. Kang thus proposed a powerful new model: the intelligent, strong, joyful, and highly social "dolphin". By drawing on the latest neuroscience and behavioural research, she shows how this authoritative style with a balanced lifestyle encourages self-motivation and the key 21st Century skills she calls “CQ” – communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and contribution. “It is the integration of IQ and EQ. After extensive research from the world’s top universities and organizations, these are the five skills that have been identified for 21st Century success.”

What type of parent would you like to be…………………………..

My Future by Savanna Noelle

My future is all planned out
But not by me
My parents took it upon themselves, y’see
They want me to succeed
But not at something that interests me
“You’ll never work a day in your life
If you truly love your job”
If that’s so then I suppose
Work is all my life will ever be
If you won’t let what I do
Be decided by me

(https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/experts/dr-tim-elmore-0)
(https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/21/books/review/how-to-raise-an-adult-by-julie-lythcott-haims.html)
Julie Lythcott-Haimes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyElHdaqkjo)
(https://www.darpanmagazine.com/magazine/cover-story/dr-shimi-kang-taking-the-road-less-travelled/) 
Shimi Kang (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrb6Z7KEgX4)