As parents, we want the best for our children, right? We want them to have good physical health, to have good behavior, and to achieve academic success, among other things. However, have we considered our parenting styles? Are we “Helicopters” or “Gardeners” in terms of parenting? The former, “Helicopter” parenting, is a term that was coined in 1969, but gained popularity in the 2000s, referring to parents who are “always hovering over their children and making noise”. The latter, “Gardener” parenting, is a term I would like to use to describe parents who are like gardeners, taking care of their children’s nutrition and their environment to provide an atmosphere where healthy growth can occur.
“Helicopter” parents have the tendency to attempt to solve their children’s problems for them. These parents also are known to set up a world for their children to feel that they, as parents, can do everything for them. They try their very best to protect their children from challenges that may occur in their lives, and sometimes that can leave them unprepared for the outside world they eventually have to face to.
“Gardener” parents, in contrast, attempt to provide a space full of sunshine, water, nutrition, and all other necessities in order to let their children grow and mature successfully. They support their children by all means, but, at the same time, these parents encourage their children to be independent. They want their children to be capable of handling any storms that may come at any point in their lives, especially when they grow up and live on their own. This seems to be a perfect type of parenting style.
It is possible that parents do not fit the description of a “Helicopter” parent or a “Gardener” parent. They might be a “Virtual” parent! Whether a parent is working full-time, working part-time, or working as a stay-at-home parent, life is busy. “Virtual” parents struggle to find the time to take better care of their children. Some parents think it is the school’s responsibility to take care of their children’s wellbeing. They are virtually there with their children, but they are not really in their world. The children of “Virtual” parents could be fortunate enough to find a way to be successful in life, but, more often, they may feel lost. Even with great potential of giftedness and talent, these children might not have a good sense of direction and purpose for their lives and, therefore, might not be able to reach their full potential.
As parents, we need to think deeply and carefully about our parenting styles. Do we fit the description of “Helicopter” parents, “Gardener” parents, or “Virtual” parents? Which type of parent do we strive to be? We want to succeed in parenting, but, in many cases, it is difficult to take the steps leading to the best outcome.
As a parent myself, having two grown children who are happily living their own lives, full of adventure, I am able to see that my parenting style has been a combination of all three types discussed above. My wish for my children is that they will consider their options or paths to becoming the best parents their children deserve — to be a “Gardner” for their children. Indeed one of my dreams for my future retirement life is to be a proud gardener, nurturing a beautiful flower garden and a thriving vegetable garden just as “Gardener” parents, who strive to provide a nurturing environment for their children to grow successfully and be equipped to handle any storms in life.