There is a type of parent who is constantly worried about their kids. They’re worried that the teacher isn’t giving their daughter enough attention. They’re worried that their son is falling behind. They fight and claw for every advantage…and resist every possible disadvantage with equal ferocity. More than anything, they want their kids to “succeed”—and they will not let anything get in the way of that.
Isn’t it interesting though that these paranoid, hypervigilant, aggressive parents never seem to be folks who’ve had to spend time worrying about the winds of systemic injustice blowing in their direction? Nor do they tend to be the people living paycheck to paycheck, hand to mouth. No, one of the things we never seem to mention about snowplow parents and helicopter moms and hockey dads is that they all somehow can afford the time to do and say these things that have the rest of us shaking our heads.
Now, college admissions are definitely unfair. They are ruthlessly competitive. Lots of great kids suffer because of them. But who fought hardest to beat that system in the college admissions scandal? It wasn’t a band of fed-up parents from inner-city schools fighting to get theirs. It was a bunch of preposterously rich parents with mediocre kids who had, for most of their life, barely done anything with their considerable potential.
The Karen who is screaming at the PTA meeting. The father bullying his son’s teacher to get a grade changed. The mob of moms and dads descending upon the headmaster at their kids’ expensive private school. Why is it that the angriest parents are actually the ones for whom the system isn’t just working the best, but for whom it is specifically designed? Why are the people who are already so far ahead convinced that they’re actually being screwed? It’s ridiculous.
We’ve talked about dream hoarding. We’ve talked about remembering that life is not zero sum—teaching your kids about infinite games. We’ve talked about modeling the right behavior. Well, we also need to talk about just calming the hell down.
Your kids are fine. They are doing way better than most kids their age (and one compelling piece of evidence is that they have you, a parent who cares). They are not being harmed, as we’ve said. Not like you think you are. Relax. Trust the process. Support your kids…and support their classmates too. It’s not nearly as bad as you think. Turn down the volume.
Let them have their childhood…it just might be the thing that helps you keep your dignity.