You’re not a helicopter parent. The system made you this way.

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We get it. We all want the best for our kids. We want them to have just as many opportunities as we did, and often so much more.

And for good reason. The world is a scarier place than when we grew up. It feels harder to get ahead. The politics, the job market, another big stock market crash? It’s all so real.

So we architect. We strategize. We fight to give our kids the best chance possible so they can beat the competition. Get that scholarship. Set themselves up for success in life.

It’s a rat race and we’re the rat! Constantly running ourselves ragged.

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Credit: Paramount Pictures

Here’s the truth. We spend way more time with our kids than we did in the 1970s . Turns out, we work more too. It’s no wonder we’re exhausted.

But guess what? Not every country is like this.

According to the book Love, Money and Parenting: How Economics Explains the Way We Raise Our Kids, it’s not that we are choosing to be over-bearing parents in the U.S., we simply live in an increasingly unequal society.

The authors, economists Matthias Doepke and Fabrizio Zilibotti explain that as countries experience an increasing disparity of wealth, the stakes for helping our kids succeed grow higher.

In other words, as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, getting our kids into the upper bracket of society becomes more and more important. And so we respond accordingly: by paying attention to every detail, helping with homework and advocating for our kids at every opportunity.

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This is not the case in countries like Sweden and Denmark. In these countries, children have more freedom. Children walk to school by themselves and they are largely responsible for their own career choices and organizing their own study schedule.

And it’s not because parents in Sweden and Denmark are better people. They simply live in more equal societies. Parents don’t have to worry about their kids getting into university because all kids have that opportunity and nobody needs to take out a second mortgage to pay the fees. And because everyone has an equal shot in life, everyone can relax just a little bit more.

So next time you’re wondering if you’re being too overbearing, remember this: it may not have as much to do with you and your personality as you might think.


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