Parenting Styles: Do You Helicopter, Manage or Coach?

I just read an interesting article on that examined the differences between managing and coaching in the context of business. According to the piece, the most effective business leaders know when to do one or the other — or both.

While I was reading, I kept thinking about my job as a parent. Managing, the writer says, “is all about telling, directing, authority, immediate needs, and a specific outcome.” Coaching, on the other hand, “involves exploring, facilitating, partnership, long-term improvement, and many possible outcomes…”

Are you a parent manager or coach?

I immediately thought of the many parents I know who manage their kids helicopter style — hovering  morning, noon, and night  (and I’m not talking about parents of infants and toddlers). There are also the parents who take the authoritarian management  approach  — the “my way or the highway” style of parenting. Then there are the coach-parents who work hard to facilitate a dialogue with regard to effort and expectations and guide their children so the kids see the possible outcomes for themselves — but make their own choices. (Guess which one I’d like to be?)

For me, one of the hardest parts of being a parent is taming my inner manager and embracing the coach. A large part of me wants to manage EVERYTHING. I want to manage my kids’ attitudes regarding their school work, their sports, their choices in friends, the opportunities they have before them. I even want to manage their choices in music! But I also recognize that if I manage everything for them, when they leave home, I won’t have done them any favors.

Facebook is one of those issues that might be old news for some parents, but it’s new in my house. Liam doesn’t really want anything to do with Facebook but Julia desperately did. I let her get an account earlier this year, in 7th grade, with the condition that I am her “friend.” I know of lots of kids who have secret Facebook accounts because their parents won’t allow them to have one. I decided that I’d much rather let my daughter have an account that I keep an eye on so I can let her know when she is posting things that might reflect poorly on me her.

So far, I’ve had to make her take down a handful of posts, but we’ve had lots of discussions about some of the things that her friends post and why they are in poor taste. We’ve had conversations about hurt feelings when she sees things her friends are doing that she isn’t included in. Facebook has turned out to offer more coachable moments than I ever thought it would. But enough about that.

I am trying to cultivate a family environment that takes what I believe is the best of both management and coaching styles so that my kids captain their individual ships in a safe and productive direction. It’s hard. And sorry for mixing metaphors.

Anyway, this doesn’t have much to do with golf or skiing, and I know this post is sort of all over the place, but that article got me thinking….

What is your parenting style?