Are You a Curling Parent?

As a teacher for 24 years, I’ve encountered every kind of parent either sitting across the table from me in parent conferences or calling to discuss their children—both exceptional ones and those who could use a wee bit of guidance. I’m being nice . . . some needed a whole bunch of help. One kind I saw way too much of was the “helicopter parent,” those parents who swooped in to rescue their children in all situations.

My child forgot their lunch—whup, whup, whup—I swoop in and deliver it to the school. Their basketball uniform still hangs in the laundry room and they’re supposed to turn it in today—whup, whup, whup—I leave work early to drop it off at their practice. Going hungry for one meal won’t damage the kid, and they’ll probably remember their lunch tomorrow. Running a few laps for not turning in their uniform will build character.

I have a term for a new type of parenting in this modern generation. Want to hear it? The “curling parent.” You might not know about the sport of curling or you may have watched a few minutes of it in the winter Olympics. The sport consists of a player pushing a stone so it glides across the ice to land in the center of the target.  Another team member runs alongside with a broom, smoothing the ice so the stone encounters no hindrance or bumps along its path. Hence, curling parents. They desire their children not to encounter any disappointment or hardship and try to smooth their way. But for what end result? Many will become adults ill-equipped to handle a job loss, heartache, or road block. Those skills are developed in the growing stages of life as they learn to adapt and problem solve. So what are your thoughts? Do you think we’re helping our children by brushing away every obstacle in their path or are we actually hurting them?

I get it. I’m a former teacher, remember? Sometimes a student would stand in front of my desk looking at me with puppy dog eyes, pleading for extra credit. It required great strength to explain how it would not be an option because they had failed to complete the regular assignments. I figured it was better to learn a lesson as a 13-year-old instead of as a new employee.

Just as the butterfly has to struggle out of the cocoon to be strong enough to survive in the world, so do our children. My grandfather had the utmost respect for teachers and always inquired about my students. He’d say, “We are raising hothouse flowers.” He insinuated that we insulate our kids from the weather elements and grow them in a perfect environment, but when they exit the door to the real world, they will wither.

Even scriptures encourage the same thought. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).

We want our kids to like us—I wanted them to love Miss Pulliam—but one of the most difficult concepts to remember is we are their parent and not their friend. Our job is to guide, teach, direct, and yes, discipline. If we don’t train our children, then how will they learn what’s needed to thrive as an adult as they navigate life?

So here are my thoughts: save the ice scraping for the car and let your kids hit a few bumps and encounter challenges. You are growing future leaders, husbands, wives, and parents.

About Shelley Pulliam

Howdy! (A girl from Oklahoma has to use this as her greeting) I’m Shelley Pulliam, executive director of Arise Ministries and former teacher of hormone-filled 8th graders. But my real claim to fame rests in my award as second grade spelling bee champ and my recent gun-handling skills as I train to competition shoot. It helps me be on guard when Satan comes knocking. I’m a voracious reader and can frequently be found at the theater enjoying movie marathons where my record stands at six in one day. I’m a single, never married, who loves to pour into children at every opportunity. Let me know if you have any for sale. You can connect with me on social media.