Robin Smith / October 26, 2020

Parenting for Freedom or Serfdom

Helicopter parents yield helicopter government because people expect the nanny state.

Have you wondered how our approach to raising our children reflects how we respond to other crises and even how we expect our government to take care of us?

The term “helicopter parenting” gained traction in Dr. Haim Ginott’s 1969 book, Between Parent & Teenager, as teens lamented that some parents hover over them like a helicopter. By 2011, the identifier became popular enough to be included in the dictionary. As explained by licensed psychologist Ann Dunnewold, PhD, “It means being involved in a child’s life in a way that is over controlling, overprotecting, and over perfecting, in a way that is in excess of responsible parenting.” Essentially, helicopter parenting is removing risk of failure in the life of a child.

A July 2015 Harvard Medical School publication noted that parents will do homework assignments for their kids, protect them from typical chores, and over-involve their kids in activities for the purpose of networking and popularity. The editors of the distinguished periodical dared to declare, “It’s also true that no matter how hard you try, you can’t prevent every bad thing from happening to your child. We don’t have that much control over life.”

The most recent extreme case of helicopter parenting is the scandal involving 33 parents who paid in excess of $25 million to get their kids into colleges by bribing school officials, inflating test scores, and lying about their qualifications. More and more older children are taught to allow their parents to make things happen in their lives, which leads to dependence upon government, bureaucracies, and other organizations to provide instead of creating an environment for personal achievement, individual opportunity, and self-reliance.

As helicopter parenting became more widely practiced, the ideas of a universal wage, “free” healthcare, and “free” college tuition began to dominate our cultural lexicon. Political battles are drawn upon these very lines today. Do our youth want equal opportunity or just more free stuff? Do our youth look to family, church, and community, or do they allow government to replace these societal pillars in the areas of education, nutrition, and even daily income? Increasingly, youth are taught not to think for themselves but to depend on a surrogate parent, the nanny state, which guards its dependent subjects. Increasingly, young adults are satisfied with rights that can be equally given and taken away by a government or a state instead of standing up for their inalienable rights endowed by their Creator.

The adage that politics is downstream of culture is just part of the equation of reality. Politics is downstream of culture, and culture is downstream of what is taught in our homes. That which is taught in our homes is influenced by individuals’ understanding of their own identity, worth, and potential.

We must continue to teach the next generation that one’s best future is found in freedom. This will influence culture and in turn uplift our political climate. In his renowned book, The Road to Serfdom, economist Friedrich Hayek first tied economic freedom to individual freedom, arguing that every step toward a government-controlled economy equals one step away from individual freedom. Hayek demonstrated that any form of socialism is incompatible with Liberty.

Gary Haugen, in a thoughtful book about courage, asks, “If I keep [my children] completely safe … will they never have a chance to be truly good or brave?” Indeed, will they ever be truly free? Parenting makes a dramatic difference in our homes, in our culture, and, yes, in our politics. Are you raising your children for freedom or for serfdom?

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