Recently I had my first experience as a helicopter parent -- you know, the kind of parent who hovers around his or her child's teachers and coaches, incessantly complaining and demanding.
Of course, I suppose one visit to a teacher -- my first in the 19 years since my oldest child started kindergarten -- doesn't technically make me a helicopter parent, since I'm hardly hovering. But the episode did lead me to wonder if I'm becoming the kind of parent I detest.
If you too are unsure whether or not you're a helicopter parent, try this short quiz:
- The coach removes your child from the game. Do you:
a. Continue to cheer for the other players
b. Check email on your smartphone until your child re-enters the game
c. Direct loud, derogatory comments at the coach
d. Direct loud, derogatory comments at the child who took your child's place
- Your child receives a "C" on a project for which you did most of the work. Do you:
a. Explain to your child that he or she just needs to work a little harder
b. Quietly resolve to do ALL the work on the next project
c. Send your child's teacher a nasty email
d. Go down the school and give that teacher a piece of your mind
- Your daughter fails to make the cheerleading squad. Do you:
a. Encourage her to work harder and try again next year
b. Change to a different, pricier gymnastics coach
c. Spread ugly rumors about the girls who did make the squad
d. Go down to the school and give that cheerleading sponsor a piece of your mind
- The coach's son pitches and plays shortstop, while your son is stuck in left field, even though he is clearly a better pitcher and shortstop than the coach's son. Do you:
a. Work with your son to improve his pitching and fielding
b. Explain to the coach privately why your son deserves to play those positions
c. Make ugly comments about the coach to the other parents
d. Snatch your son off the field and leave in a huff
- Your child is not picked for the yearbook staff, despite clearly being the most creative boy or girl in the entire school. Do you:
a. Help your child find other outlets for his or her creativity
b. Refuse to buy a yearbook
c. Meet with the yearbook advisor and express your disappointment
d. Meet with the principal and demand that the yearbook advisor be removed
Each A answer is worth zero points, while a B is worth one, a C three, and a D five. If you earned 10 points or more, you might be a helicopter parent. At 15 to 19 points, your whirly-bird is definitely airborne. And if you scored between 20 and 25, it's time to seek professional help. And I'm not talking about a new gymnastics coach.
Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and college professor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.