Meet the parents who won’t let their kids become adults
TALK about your fair shake of the sauce bottle.
In the United States, a recent report in the New York Times told the story of a precious child with zero life skills revealed to her university pals that mummy and daddy had helped her avoid sauce - yes, we're talking mustard, tomato and probably turkey gravy too - her whole short life.
She found herself in the canteen in a cold sweat because she was surrounded by sachets and pump bottles conveniently placed everywhere for her condiment-loving fellow students.
The parents weren't able to phone ahead and clear the hall of the offending liquids - which is what routinely happened ahead of dinner invites to private homes until she had moved out of home, readers learned.
The New York Times called this young woman's parents - and the presumably millions of others like hers - "snowplow parents".
Where once "tiger mothers" scrutinised every report card and helicopter parents scrutinised everything else, this new breed of mum and dad eliminates the middleman and just clears everything out of the road so that their children never have to ride over anything so much as a metaphorical pebble.
But I have a better term for it, though: not snowplow parents, but 'emotional anti-vaxxers'.
Because just as regular anti-vaxxers refuse their children the resistance-building exposure their young bodies need, their emotional counterparts do the same thing when they don't allow children to encounter the things that might help them build mental toughness.
Consider the news this week of super wealthy emotional anti-vaxxers, the Hollywood mums charged in a massive crackdown after a bribery scam involving some of the most elite colleges in America was exposed.
Dubbed Operation Varsity Blues by the cops who busted it, the racket offered up irresistible shortcuts to cashed-up parents hooked on the Failure Is Not An Option ethos with fake test scores and athletic records plus preferential treatment - all at a price.
The whole thing was, on one level, hilarious: the caper involved in at least one case the photoshopping of a prospective student's head onto an action shot of an athlete in motion in an attempt to con the admissions office.
But this sort of thing has its serious side, and it's not confined to the Hollywood elite.
From early on these 'emotional anti-vaxxers' create a role for themselves, injudicious as it may be, of always being there to fix things for their son or daughter which inevitably means said son or daughter can fix very little for themselves.
It's one thing to wish your child a successful life and another to be so myopic that you are preventing their success. Obstacles are life, they are learning.
But they are moving out of the sandbox and on from the play date, evolving into a dangerous force that not only strips away any fragile layers of budding independence but robs their children of the opportunity to grow in self-discipline, resilience and motivation.
And the scary thing is that in their hyper-vigilance to mow down anything and everything that could be in the way of their little treasure, there will be collateral damage. And that could be your child.
Sure, there will be times when we do have to fight for our children but there are times when we have to let them be and work it out for themselves.
The stakes get higher as the children get older. Normal social ups and downs can become so blown out of proportion that innocent children become drawn into the drama, often painted as aggressors or bullies.
The 'emotional anti-vaxxer' bares their teeth once again in defence of a child now conditioned to realise that the way to get what they want is to simper and play the victim card.
Some experts also note that these children often will have poor social skills because they have never actually had to make children like them. Instead, their parents taught them that they're entitled to friends.
What becomes of them when they are adults, if and when their parents die or decide they have had enough of this caper?
The damage is done. And without their crutch what will they have? Answer: a steady stream of anxiety, depression, social problems, substance abuse and dysfunctional relationships.
How could you look at that baby lying in your arms and want that for them?
Julie Lythcott-Haims, the former dean of freshmen at Stanford and the author of "How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Over parenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success," told the Times that parents like this have it back to front.
"The point is to prepare the kid for the road, instead of preparing the road for the kid," she said.
There's a difference between supporting your children and wanting them to be successful and obliterating all obstacles so your child ends up struggling in the real world.
Wake up people. It's not about you. It's about your child maturing as a person who knows how to win, lose, pass, fail and do everything in between.