The Concierge Parent
The Concierge Parent
Whether your kid is one of 5.9 million with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or not, it’s probably safe to say that you as the parent are the one paying most attention on your child’s behalf. Parents have gotten out of control on this front. You have become your kid’s eyes, ears and brain. You stand up straight and snap to attention when your kid’s teacher or coach starts talking at orientation while your kid sits their bored, playing on their smartphone, completely disinterested. And then you ask me why your kids are not more independent, self-reliant and responsible for themselves. Are you kidding me?
Here’s the problem. You are a concierge parent (that label coined by Julie Lythcott-Haims). Just as a hotel concierge does all he can do to make your vacation a perfect and hassle-free experience you try to do the same for your kids life. You look ahead at what possible pitfalls, obstacles and challenges your kids may face and race ahead to smooth out the path so there are no hills for them to climb (or, God forbid, a valley). You pay for every possible opportunity so that your child can have every experience… like enrolling them in sports at three years old, hiring a tutor for your first-grader so they can have a fifth grade reading level so they can be better prepared for college by second grade. There are some parents who take their 8 year old kids on first class vacations around the world so they can “experience life.” Again… Are you kidding me? Have them go outside and ride bikes with the neighbors… that’s life.
Fast forward to young adult-hood. Colonel Leon Robert, professor at West Point said this: “Graduates exit West Point with the rank of second lieutenants in the Unites States Army. the great majority are great men and women doing the right thing. But there are a creeping number who have parents that over-manage them, such as by driving them to their first assignment. That’s totally inappropriate. You don’t need your mother to show up at the front gate of Fort Bragg with you, or help you find an apartment. You’re twenty-one or twenty-two years old. You need to deal with the landlord yourself. That’s part of learning to act as an adult. Our graduates are mature leaders of character well prepared to lead America’s sons and daughters and with all the right tools to be successful at the tasks the army will require of them. However, there are a small percentage of parents that will not, or cannot, ‘let go” and continue to hover over their adult children.” I haven’t worked with families associated with West Point but I’ve worked with thousands of others who have similar stories.
Here’s the take away for you… empower your kids. Get out of their way. Stop being their concierge, planning their every activity, wrapping them in bubble wrap to prevent pain, paving the way for a perfect life experience. You’re intention is to help them, I know. But you can be certain you are hurting them, instead.
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Written by Lisa Smith