By Rod Rose The Lebanon Reporter
---- — Clinical psychologist Dr. Greg Sipes was the keynote speaker at Judge David’s 14th Community In-Service Wednesday at the Boone County 4-H Fairgrounds. After his keynote address, Sipes moderated a student/parent panel discussion on helicopter parenting.
The key to Sipes’ presentation was the phrase, “how you ‘see’ determines what you ‘see,’ which then determines what you will ‘do.’”Panelists included parents Bret Bayston and Heather Schaller, and students Grace Bayston and Rein Schaller, from Lebanon; parent Neal Randolph and students Olivia Randolph and Jonathon Morales, from Western Boone; and from Zionsville parents Jim Schillaci and Sharon Cornacchini and students Dixe Schillaci and Siena Cornacchini.
Sipes posed questions for the students, for the parents and for both groups, that ranged from their response to hypothetical situations to “one thing that your parent does that drives you crazy.”One of his children, at age 17, was found loading wood and cement into a pickup. Sipes asked him why.“We’re building a beer shed,” the boy replied.“What do you do, guys?” Sipes asked the parents — saying he’d tell them how he dealt with the situation after they responded.“When I was 17, the consequences for getting in trouble for drinking were much less than they are now,” Sharon Cornacchini of Zionsville said. “I would not let him take the materials; that would buy a little bit of time to figure out what the next step was.”“I would hope I could be at least a little bit effective in helping them stop and think about what it would mean for their future,” Bret Bayston, Lebanon, said. “We can’t stop them from drinking.”Sipes said he told his son, “don’t drink and drive. If you’re going to do that, just stay there.”His son is now an attorney, and was one of the top five graduates in his class, Sipes said.
Would the parents “bail out” a child if he or she had gotten to school to find they’d left something at home?, Sipes asked.
Perhaps, said some. It would depend on the child’s prior behavior, said others.“A lot of kids are over-programmed,” Jim Schillaci said. “They’re running 110 percent and something slips between the cracks ... Sometimes, you have to let them fail.”Sipes asked the parents if they would want to know the truth about a party where there would be alcohol and perhaps drugs.“There’s a lot of bad repercussions,” Heather Schaller said. “I hope that if they knew there were a party like that, they wouldn’t have an interest in going. Maybe I’m naive.”“I would hope,” she said, “they would talk with me about it.”What happens if a parent does get a 2 a.m. phone call from a deputy who says he has their child in his car, Sipes asked.“That’s a tough one,” Bayston said. “Obviously, there are going to be legal consequences. We’ll be there to support, and to pick up the pieces once it’s done.”“Do you get them out of it?” Sipes asked.“No,” Bayston said.
It would be better to avoid the temptation, Grace Bayston said.“I think it’s really important to surround yourself ... with people that won’t put you in that situation,” she said.“I just don’t go,” Dixe Schillaci said. “It’s gotten to the point in high school now that I’m never sure, and it’s not worth it.”What parental action makes the students crazy?Schillici said she visits an online site that posts students’ grades “four times a day,” and “I don’t need somebody checking it four times a day, too.”“You rock, dad; you’re totally great,” she told her father. But when she gets a grade lower than expected, she said, “I already feel that bad, and I don’t need you to load that on me.”Schallici has been accepted to Yale.
Being nagged about homework bothers her, Grace Bayston said. “I don’t not do my homework; I’ve never not done my homework. Why are you questioning me?” she said.
What one thing, Sipes then asked, do their parents do best?Rein Schaller was holding the microphone. After a pause, she said it was keeping her on the right track.“Nice save,” came a voice from the audience.“My parents give me life lessons,” said Western Boone student Jonathon Morales. “They teach me something that’s going to help me in my future.”Siena Cornacchini, a Zionsville student, said her parents “let me take on as much as I want to do,” trusting her to not become overly busy.
Her parents give her independence, Bayston said.“You are a remarkable group of young people,” Sipes said at the conclusion. “I’m really impressed. I have a couple of empty bedrooms because my kids left; you’re all invited to come live with me.”Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Edens was delighted with the presentation.“If I’d played this scenario in my head, it couldn’t have been more perfect,” Edens said.