Wednesday, August 29, 2012

On Helicopter Parenting...

People label each other every day. It seems to just be an ingrained part of social interaction. Working moms, work-at-home moms, stay-at-home moms, crunchy, granola moms, attachment parents, etc. The truth is, all these labels are so misleading and none of us moms can be labeled with just one thing. Every parent is different, every child is unique, every family has their own ways. 

I recently watched a little video on "Helicopter Parenting", something that was aired on national television. 

My thought was "I suspect people who don't really know me have looked at my kids and I and thought of me as a 'helicopter parent'". Maybe even you have, reading my blog. I'm not here to defend myself, or to attach a different label. 

You know what I think? (if you're reading this far, you probably want to know)

We live in a society of extremes, where people either shout "Neglect!" when you're further than 10 feet from your baby, or they exclaim 'helicopter parent!' when you are helping your 4 year old tie their shoes.

So what to do? Stop caring what anyone thinks. What's important is what you think and feel is right. What works for your immediate family. What makes your kids happy. What makes you a satisfied parent who will be able to say 20 years from now "I've done a good job raising kids". 

Assuming that all parents who homeschool are helicopter parents is like saying all parents who send their kids to public school don't care about their child's education. 

Assuming that the mom who doesn't let her kids eat junk food is a helicopter parent is like saying all parents who let their kids eat junk food are abusive. 

Is there a fine line? Probably. 

I, for one, don't think we should push our kids into something they genuinely do not want. Especially when it is something we want. I'm talking about telling them that what they are drawing the wrong way, pushing them into a certain college, making them play a certain instrument, deciding on their career path, scheduling their time so that they have no free minute left. I think there is a lot of pressure on parents to do all they can, and we end up doing too much.

There was one thing I agreed with, in part, when I watched the video. Parents need to demonstrate their own passions to their kids. The problem, it sounded so forced. As if you have to pretend you have a hobby you're passionate about. You either are passionate or you aren't. If you don't have any passions, it just may well be the result of your upbringing by 'helicopter parents' who never let you discover what you truly loved. Ahem. 

It's true, if the kids see us passionate about something, whether it is hiking, soccer, drawing, reading, writing, singing, volunteering, cooking, etc., they will notice. They just need to see that there is more to life than work and bills. 

Kids just need to be sometimes. Exactly why we want to homeschool. Our society teaches what to think, not how to think. It teaches doing instead of being. I want my children to experience life-long education, the world outside of the 4 walls of a classroom. I want them to live outside of textbooks and not be consumed by popular culture. I want them to decide if they want to continue homeschooling when the time comes. I want them to discover what they are passionate about and to follow those passions. I'm not here to make these decisions for them. And no, putting them into every extra curricular activity on earth does not help them, it burns them out.  

We are there to help them discover what they want to be, what they are meant to be, what they were born to do. Not to tell them what they should be doing.

What do you think? Enough with the labels? On with parenting...

Photo: Cecile Graat


  1. I totally agree. We are all trying to do the best we can and labeling just stereotypes and is unnecessary.

  2. Wonderfully put! We're so afraid our children won't succeed if we make mistakes that we fail to enjoy them. Every successful person on the planet had imperfect parents. Relax, love on them and use old fashioned common sense.

  3. This is a great post and i agree with you on people pre judging everything about parenting, since you are pregnant until your kids are married! One thing i agree with you is just be yourself around your kids, I don't believe you have to pretend to have a passion in life for them to be passionate about something, they will have their own personalities and if you are yourself you are teaching them a valuable lesson either way, that you need to be genuine in life! :)

  4. I always encourage my kids to make some easy confidence-building decisions like choosing what to have for dinner, or where to go for a playdate.

    raceracegirl at yahoo dot com

  5. Parents today are scared to discipline their children which is making them intio very ungrateful and spoiled little children. We all feel so judged about everything we do,

  6. I love this post. Ive never heard the term helicopter parent until now, though, but it fits perfectly. I believe there is a balance that every parent should find between the two extremes. Your goal is to maintain a child's safety while letting them discover what their abilities in life truly are. You want them to become independent, but only when it's comfortable for them to do so. You are to be there with their successes & their failures & help them learn lessons from both. Everybody these days is too busy pointing fingers at other parents instead of being a responsible adult & looking at themselves & what they should be or could be doing better with their own children.

  7. I love all of the real here. It's so easy to fall into labels and camps and fake passions {!}, but as you perfectly said - on with the parenting and amen! :)

    {Great piece!}

  8. BoBo the Monkey is my favorite.So cute.

  9. I find that other mothers judge other mothers so much. I really wish we could all just put it aside and say, she so knows her kiddos look at how great of a job they are doing with their hovering parenting style or the neglecting style. If it works for the family it works for the family. I love the on with the parenting, that is what it is all about : )

  10. This is such a great topic and I completely agree with what you are saying. Parenting really should be what is best for you and your child, and no one else. I always feel like I am being looked at or judged by certain things I do or do not do with my daughter. I hate that I have to feel that way. Before having my own child, I always thought parents were lazy or NUTS, when it came to baby harnessing. After having my daughter, who is a complete handful, I understood more. I myself used to use a harness on her when we would go to crowded places. It gave her the freedom to walk a little and not be tied up in her stroller and it gave me a little bit of a break from having to worry about her running off or trying to push the stroller one handed, while holding her hand. So, it really is what is best for your family, and no one else!

  11. I really wish parents would stop judging each other! Nicely put in this post. You have to find what works for your family.


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