Helicopter parenting. According to Wikipedia a helicopter parent “is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they hover overhead, overseeing their child’s life”. I swore I would never be one. I did. I swore the entire time I was pregnant with my first son that I would not be one. And yet, here I am, and I think I might be a helicopter parent. It started the second M was outside of my body. I birthed him and immediately became the thing I swore against. How did it happen you ask? Well, here are some reasons why I think it is really easy to become a heli-mom.
- Media- Have you watched the news lately? Every day there is at least one story of a kidnapped, murdered, abused, or injured child. Who is to blame? Generally it is the mom. Even if no one says it, we all think it. She must not have taught him to swim, or watched him close enough. Or she trusted someone to care for him that she shouldn’t have. Yep, mom guilt hard core. So, thanks to the media, I don’t let M out of my sight. A sex trafficking ring might take him from my shopping cart, or a bear might snatch him out of my yard. There is a lot of pressure on mom’s to not be “that mom” that let the unthinkable happen.
- Fear-Have you read about medical kidnapping lately. It’s when a doctor decides that you are abusing your child because he hit his head on a coffee table or has a rare vitamin deficiency that allows his bones to easily break. Despite the witnesses that saw him hit his head, and the medial tests that verify weak bones, your children can be ripped from you in an instant if a doctor feels like you are the reason your unsteady tot fell over and bumped his head. So, naturally you don’t let you child walk without being spotted or in a harness until he is 12 and even then you gasp every time he gets near an object that might trip him.
- Opinions-Had any good parenting advise lately? I have not either. No matter what I try as a parent, someone will tell me it is incorrect. There is a research study out there about just about anything you can think of and why it will ruin your child for life. So, as a mom who is trying not to ruin her children, it is easy to be overly cautious about everything. Especially things so critical as baby led weaning vs. spoon feeding. One wrong move and your baby could totally hate broccoli for life. Yikes.
- Competition-It is a contest right? Last I checked every mom thinks she has to have the smartest, cutest, earliest walker ever. As moms we don’t mean to compete, it is just that when our children are successful it overshadows all of the feelings of failure that we face daily. So, to make ourselves feel less like giant failures, we boast in all of our kid’s accomplishments. And to have accomplished children, you have to be really involved in making sure they have all the required skills and knowledge.
- Society-Kid’s pretty much have to go to college for at least 7 years in our society to be “successful” by the new standards. I need to make sure my child can do calculus by 5th grade or there is no way he’ll be a successful engineer like every other kid in America. This makes me panic about his education and I’m sure as he gets older I will be freaking out at his teachers for his undeserved, imperfect grades.
- Knowledge- We simply know too much about everything that can go wrong. We have access to so much research and so many stories. I think parenting must have been simpler in some ways before the internet came along. If you were damaging your child, at least you didn’t know it, and therefore couldn’t feel stressed about it!
See it’s really not my fault that I’m paranoid about everything my child does every moment of the day.
In all seriousness, I try very hard to let M learn and grow without having me in the way. But it truly is difficult in our culture to parent without hovering. I personally am working on giving M (who just turned two by the way) a safe environment and turning him loose to explore. He will never learn new skills if I do everything for him. My favorite new place to do this is at Cool Beans Play Cafe in Fort Collins. This place is amazing for toddler free-play, and they feed my caffeine addiction while I am there. It is fairly priced in my opinion too. If you haven’t been, I suggest you go! Here is the link to their site Cool Beans Play Cafe.