There’s a new style of parenting out there and it’s finally one I can get behind.
“Passenger plane parenting” is said to be a common style employed by so-called millennials, (people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s). Passenger plane parenting, or PPP, is a welcome evolution from helicopter parenting, which is characterized by extreme hovering and hyper-involvement. Kind of like your five-year-old whenever you open your laptop or make a call.
Millennials, who were victims(?) of helicopter parenting, have decided to do things differently. Instead of focusing solely on their children, often to the exclusion of their own identities and interests, millennial parents are choosing the “it takes a village” approach.
And you need a passenger plane to move that village.
According to Adweek, rather than hovering and micro-managing their children, millennials seem to be parenting in a way that is more inclusive of the entire family’s wants, needs, and interests, including their own.
Exhibit A: Commercials for all-inclusive resorts and cruises who market to families by showing the little kids in the splash pad, big kids on the rock wall and mom and dad lounging together in a gauzy cabana. In short, passenger plane parents want experiences that involve togetherness AND the pursuit of individual interests.
This style could also be described as “togetherness, but not too much” which is another reason I can TOTALLY get behind it.
As mothers, most of us fear and/or experience a loss of our own identity. We try to balance being there for and attuned to the needs of our kids while still maintaining a sense of self. We do that inside and outside the home, regardless of where, how and if we’re employed.
Helicopter parents are often derided for trying to live life through their children, for raising their kids as though it’s their opportunity for a do-over. Helicopter parents are accused of usurping their kids’ freedom and independence in order to exert control, or because they fear no longer being needed by their kids.
But the motives of helicopter parents can be more complicated and well-intentioned than that. For them, it might be about removing roadblocks to success that no one removed for them, or making sure their kids experience things they themselves could not or did not.
PPP is great for positive child development because it gives kids more freedom to move, explore, make decisions and have experiences. Rather than consider how the helicopter parent might react, the children of PPPs can take those tentative steps outside the nest knowing that personal expression and healthy failure are supported and encouraged. These kids can experience a level of independence and individuality their parents might not have been able to.
I’m usually loathed to write about any specific parenting style because doing so often leads to heated debate and brittle comments about which ones are best, which ones are terrible, and why. I don’t believe anyone should have to defend their parenting choices and I try not to wade into those conversations because we all parent in different ways.
I also believe that being open to new ideas and methods is healthy and productive and that the world would be a better place if we could just stop judging each other, which is what I love about PPP. At its essence, it’s saying “you do you. I will be here for you if you fall and I will help you when I can, but you’re your own person and you have to learn to do it yourself.”
Watching kids fall is easier said than done, but the great thing about a PPP style is that you get to bring your village along for the ride. It’s not up to you to be the be all and end all for your child. You can let new people, experiences, and influences into your life because that’s what’s best for everyone.
Before adopting our children my husband and I went through hours and hours of mandatory training and preparation. Eight years later, an instructor’s pointed remark has stayed with me. She said, “When you adopt, you will need to let go of the notion that children belong to you, and accept that many people will have a hand in their upbringing. That is the nature of parenting a child of adoption and you need to be okay with that.” I’m biased towards this approach, of course, but I truly think it could work for everyone – adoptive families or otherwise.
Teachers, therapists, counselors, medical professionals, social workers, foster parents and our extended families have all collaborated on the raising of my children and both my kids are better for it. Passenger Plane Parenting takes everyone along for the ride. It’s parenting from 35,000 feet, not 50, and it gives everyone room to breathe.
Just remember to put your own mask on first.