Zamboni Dad

I was surprised when my friend, who had just returned from dropping his son off at university, mentioned that he had spent four days on campus, helping the first year boy move in. “Hey, he had a lot of stuff, and we had to try out for the choir, too.” (I resisted the temptation to point out that “we” might not have been the right word.)

He must have sensed something in my voice because he quickly added, “But I’m nothing compared to my son’s roommate’s parents. They actually bought a home out there, so they can spend weekends on campus.”

During a parent education program recently at school, a psychologist gave us this advice: “Giving your child everything he needs all the time is not good for him. That approach will prevent him from becoming resilient. You want to be a concerned, interested and compassionate bystander.”

That advice makes good sense, but as the parental metaphor moves from “helicopter” to “zamboni,” it’s getting tougher and tougher to find a bystander. Many parents, like my buddy who thinks he’s trying out for the band, feel it is their duty to make straight and smooth the path.

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One Response to “Zamboni Dad”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Jim: The feature article in this month’s The Walrus is titled ‘Why Parents
    Can’t Let Go.’ Marni Jackson gets off a good line describing how their son
    ‘has always been civil and tactful with us, but firm, as if negotiating with
    slightly impaired part-time employees.’

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