I have written several posts in the last two years about the frightening rise of helicopter parents, who believe it is their mission to hover over their children in order to prevent bad things from happening to them. Employers tell stories of parents going to job interviews with their college graduate children. College professors regularly get angry phone calls from parents who are unhappy with a child's grade. Little League coaches turn off the scoreboards when one team is beating another too badly.
But I heard another disturbing tale over the weekend: A friend of a friend admitted to emailing friends and neighbors to confirm that they would buy Girl Scout Cookies from her daughter when she made the rounds over the weekend. The mother didn't email ahead because she wanted to drive fund raising (this would be bad enough); instead, she wanted to make sure her daughter did not feel the sting of rejection at the front door.
I believe this qualifies for a "WTF?"
Heaven forbid that dear Kimberly would meet a neighbor who had already purchased cookies from another girl down the street; or that she might meet a "mean" person who just didn't want any damn cookies that day. Instead, Mom takes the initiative to protect her child's fragile psyche.
Anyone who ever had to sell crap door-to-door, or ask for donations for a fund-raiser, will agree that these sometimes loathsome tasks build your character and confidence. It's really not "fair" that kids today are being sheltered from this lesson - it is not fair that they will miss these life lessons.
My own daughter sold cookies in our neighborhood for the second year in a row. I walked with her and helped coach her on what to say. She was nervous at first, but I prodded her to take responsibility for her Brownie troop's fund raising needs. We high-fived when she made a sale, and simply went to the next door when we got a "no" or unanswered door. She learned to accept rejection and felt more proud of her success.
Nearly all parents have an innate desire to make sure their children are as happy and successful as possible. Unfortunately, some take this to believe that they should insulate their children from failure and disappointment. Long ago I decided that my job as a parent is to expose my children to as many life experiences as possible, including both the good and the bad. The more experiences they have, the better they will be able to handle what life throws at them. And by feeling loss and disappointment, they will both fight to succeed and better appreciate their accomplishments.
I worry for a generation of children that is sheltered from even the tiniest of disappointments. Not only will they flounder when real challenges come to their door, but there are billions of children in developing nations who know what real suffering is - and they are hungry to lead if we fall.