In recent years terms like “helicopter parenting” and “tiger mom” have been cropping up in conversations about parenting. Despite the new buzzwords, the issues remain the same. How much freedom and independence should parents give their children? Is leaving young children unattended briefly or allowing them to roam the neighborhood themselves neglectful? Are parents overscheduling their kids? Here is a selection of thought-provoking letters to the editor on parenting styles, from the perspective of both parents and children.
See if you recognize your own upbringing and how it molded you. And if you are a parent, in the comments section of this article, you can reflect on which parenting approaches you’ve chosen and how they are shaping your children.
“Would I trade my tiger parents for a different set of parents? Absolutely not,” writes Matthew Tikhonovsky, a teenage son. He and other readers react to an Op-Ed essay by Ryan Park about his upbringing with a demanding father expecting him to be “the model Asian child.”
In an Op-Ed article Kim Brooks wrote about being charged with negligent parenting for leaving a child alone in a car briefly while running an errand. Is that child neglect? Or is law enforcement overreacting? Letter writers express both views. “Your article has given me back my confidence as a good mother, and to hell with anyone else’s opinion!” writes E. Marsh, who was similarly charged.
Readers discuss the struggle to find the right balance between ensuring children’s safety and encouraging their independence. Mary Jane Murray writes, “As a child care provider in Marin County, California, the land of helicopter parents, I observe many children whose growth is inhibited by overprotective parents.” Garrett Tomczak takes a different view: “As parents, we muddle through as best we can. But I would prefer to err on the side of caution.”
Two readers react to “How to Be a Happy Parent,” by Pamela Druckerman. Evelyn Baran, worrying about parents who overschedule their children, quotes the comedian George Carlin: “Every day children should have three hours of daydreaming.”
“Long ago, a wise second-grade teacher told me to leave my daughter alone — to stop hovering and worrying, to just let her be. Among all the pieces of advice well-meaning people gave me over the years, that was unquestionably the best,” writes Elaine Yaffe in a letter that stimulated a dialogue with other letter writers.