Have you met parents before that seem to get confused about their role with their children? I’d like to introduce you to a style I call the “Groupie Parent” I am seeing around the country today. Have you seen these parents, too? They are everywhere.
Do you remember the term groupie? It’s usually been associated with rock stars. Groupies are the devoted fans who idolize their favorite performers. They travel in groups, following a band, doing whatever they can to be close to them, and enjoying the precious moments they have with those brilliant, talented performers.
Groupie parents do the same thing with their children. They view their children as “stars” who are to be honored and served and have their every whim catered to, and they make sure they are available to applaud at any possible moment. These parents never miss a performance or fail to show up for a PTA meeting. They’re great volunteers as long as their children benefit directly from the attention. They are often the “stage moms” or the infamous “pageant parents.” More than merely being spoiled, the child is venerated as an object of glory around which the family revolves.
They might even spiritualize the issue by saying, “These children are precious gifts from heaven.” Those statements are true, but groupie parents fail to see the other side of that reality–that their kids are entrusted to them to raise to become mature, contributing adults. We parents are stewards of our children. Our role is to equip them to give back to society.
The problem: These parents lack a big picture perspective. To be sure, they enjoy their precious moments with their children, but they fail to equip them for the future.
The issue: I have found this type of parenting style is often a reaction to a past experience. Due to the absence or neglect of their own parents, they may swing the pendulum to the other extreme, determining to never miss any milestone their child experiences. This motivation in itself is noble. The problem lies in their failure to see the big picture. By lavishing too much time and attention on a child and never denying the child anything, groupie parents can increase that child’s self-image to an unreal perspective. How can anyone surrounded by groupies avoid becoming bloated with self-importance? Sadly, these kids, who are used to being the center of attention, may never learn to function when the spotlight goes off. They may become relationship-disabled, unable to manage the give-and-take of a healthy relationship. These parents must work to grasp the reality that loving their kids means treating them as people, not idols. It means learning to say no when appropriate and requiring them to serve others… as well as learning to work well even when the focus is not on them.