Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

October 3, 2013

Helicopter parenting crashes

Duct tape style puts moms, dads on the sidelines N

By Judy Wakefield

---- — It wasn’t that long ago that parents were “helicoptering” around their kids, constantly flying around and working so hard to be part of their child’s life.

Now, the experts say, that parenting style is so yesterday. The style backfired, so to speak, as kids were not maturing into self-reliant and resilient adults.

Kids were so used to having controlling parents make all of their decisions that many of them simply couldn’t handle college life or a job once they were on their own.

If you’re the helicopter type of parent and are thinking, “Oops, how do I fix this?,” there’s help on the way.

Parent educator Vicki Hoefle comes to Andover on Thursday, Oct. 10, to talk about a new parenting style — duct tape parenting. It’s a 360-degree change from helicoptering and Hoefle said it’s a much more effective parenting approach.

Just as its name suggests, parents should sit on their hands, stay on the sidelines and be quiet, Hoefle said. Let kids make their own decisions and it will help them become more respectful, responsible and resilient, she said. Those three R’s will stay with them throughout life.

Hoefle, the author of “Duct Tape Parenting,” kicks off this year’s Parent to Parent series with her presentation at the Pike School. The series is presented by the local volunteer parent organization dedicated to bringing relevant, informative speakers on child-rearing topics to town.

Launched in 1981, the series is funded by town PTOs and offered free to parents in Andover and the surrounding communities.

“As parents, there are no manuals,” Jennifer DelMonaco of Parent to Parent said. “We need to get the best resources to be the best parents for our kids.”

Hoefle, a mother of five children ranging in age from 19 to 24, believes duct tape is an effective approach. She’s used it to back off from the lives of her own kids, two of whom are adopted.

“If your child wants peanut butter for lunch for weeks, let him. ... If an outfit doesn’t match, so what. Parents need to step back. Let them (your kids) decide. We’ve found that parents are too involved and their kids grow up and can’t make decisions,” said Hoefle, who lives in Vermont.

Parenting has to be balanced. Of course, kids might make an unsafe decision and that’s when a parent must step in, Hoefle said. But, if a 9-year-old wants to make breakfast, give him a chance instead of jumping up to get the bacon and eggs.

Sitting on the sidelines may be an adjustment for some parents. Hoefle said. But the long-term results will make those sideline days well worth it.

“You will enable your kids to develop confidence through solving their own problems,” Hoefle said.