Take Tomorrow Off, On Me!

This year our school district had conferences Wednesday and Thursday nights, followed by a compensatory day Friday, which preceded a week off for Spring Vacation. It was Wednesday, the week of Parent Teacher Conferences. Marie came to my desk that day to ask for her make-up work for Thursday. She offered, “I’m not coming tomorrow, because my mom is out of town, and my dad said that I should enjoy a free day, “on him.” Remember, Marie intended to take this gift of permission for a day’s relaxation the day before a day off, before a week off! Evidently dad felt she needed a day to recuperate before a 10 day vacation.

I started to notice a similar theme running throughout our school and community.

  • One student was disappointed in the quality of her limousine for Prom last year, so her dad has rented one for this year’s dance that cost $1,500.00
  • Another students told me that his parents paid for the hotel room he and his friends rented for a party after the Sweetheart’s dance.
  • I have a senior girl who is going on the “senior trip” to Mexico, returning for a few days, then going to Hawaii with her family. Both trips are financed by her folks.
  • Another of my students bragged that her mom had bought her twenty one pairs of shoes over the weekend.
  • A junior girl improved her grades from “C’s” to “A’s.” her parents had offered her the reward of a car, but daughter refused to accept the used car they had selected. She insisted on a new one. They obliged.
  • Daughter’s cell phone rang during math class, which met after lunch. She answered. It was dad, who knew that she intended to take her friends to lunch in the new car he had bought her the night before. He was calling to see how her friends liked the car. Her math teacher was not pleased with the interruption of class, but it didn’t seem to bother dad.

It’s not just the amount of money that parents are spending that is preposterous. What parents are allowing their children to do is also staggering.

  • One of my students mentioned to me that his mom had given him twenty dollars to help pay for the stripper he and his friends hired for entertainment at their Saturday night party.
  • A senior girl I had in class was allowed to miss a week of school in order to go to Cancun with her boyfriend. Just the two of them.
  • High school, co-ed, non-chaperoned camping trips are routine.
  • A family in Broomfield bought a gorgeous new house. Their seventh grade daughter had been going through some difficult times, so the parents permanently gave her the master bedroom. They moved into a smaller bedroom upstairs.
  • One of our students had a fender bender car accident. She was shaken up about it, so her parents took her to Disneyland.
  • I have a senior boy whose mom has always done his homework. He hated that she did it and has insisted that she stop. So, she now completes the homework of several of his friends! They like it; they say she gets them good grades.
  • Another mom was invited to go out to dinner with friends, but told them she couldn’t go, she had to read “To Kill a Mockingbird” and write a report for her ADHD son who was at college.

Many parents are overindulging their children, both financially and with unlimited privilege. I have labeled this parenting style as “The Limousine.”

The goal of the limousine parent is to drive the child across life’s highway, removing all obstacles, bumps in the road, and discomfort along the way. Unlike the famous

“Helicopter Parent,” the limousine parent does not even attempt to make the child feel guilty. It is their role in life to fulfill every need that might arise for the child.

Will these parental behaviors build strong, self-sufficient and responsible individuals? Unfortunately, usually not. Limousine parenting normally creates kids who:

  • need immediate gratification, are demanding and manipulative
  • are inconsiderate of others and lacking in compassion
  • have poor work habits, don’t complete tasks
  • feel entitled, have an inappropriate sense of power
  • are immature with low self esteem
  • think the world revolves around them

Parents could express their love for their children in a much more powerful and self esteem producing manner. Instead of spending extravagant amounts of money, they could spend time with their kids. Instead of overindulging their offspring, the BEST way they could invest in their growth is through loving interaction.

Survey results from the Assets for Colorado Youth (12-13-98) support this premise.

  • Teens reported that the thing they wanted most from adults was: Time and Attention
  • Only 44% of 5th, 6th and 7th graders believed that adults valued them.
  • Nearly 1/2 of the teens surveyed didn’t think that adults in their lives spent enough time with them.
  • In a Carnegie report, 76% of teens said they would like to spend more time with the adults in their lives!

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