Monday, February 25, 2013

Guest Post: Helicopter Parenting

Heather has been a loyal reader and blog-friend for a while now.  We actually live in the same town, but have never met in person!!  This summer, I'm hoping to change that because we both are going to BLOGHER in Chicago.  (Sad that we have to go to Chicago to meet!)  Anyway, I appreciate Heather's writing style and the wisdom she has gained from a few more years of parenting than me...  Also, as a teacher, I admit that I'm sometimes quick to think of "Helicopter Parenting" as a negative thing.  I love the new perspective she brings to the table... Enjoy!

Why I'm Breaking
I'm very excited to be a E, Myself, and I today and am slightly thankful eternally grateful that God told E to give up her blog for Lent and didn't have that same message for me. Seriously. He told me I had to be nicer to my husband. It's quite possible that E got the easier of the requests. :) I kid... kinda.

I know that E is in the throws of parenting and learning how to raise Sam in the best way that she knows how. So I thought that I would address an area of parenting that I've recently encountered and my feelings on it -- Helicopter parenting. Have you heard of this? I think I heard the term once on a blog and then not again until I stumbled upon a blog in which she proudly proclaimed being "helicopter mom." She stood by her parenting stance but welcomed the advice of others. I didn't mean to write a blog post within her comments section, but I found myself writing... and writing...and writing. I had NO idea I had such an opinion on a term that I really hadn't heard of.

By definition (and by definition, I mean what Wikipedia says) a helicopter parent "is a colloquial term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to their child or children's experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions." Tweenpareting.about.com states "Helicopter parents are accused of being obsessed with their children's education, safety, extracurricular activities, and other aspects of their children's lives.
helicopter-mama

Before I go any further, let me state that I don't judge your parenting style. I just don't. Unless your parenting style involves neglect and then? I attempt to suppress every ounce of judgement that I'm feeling because reality? I don't know your story. On the flip side? You don't know mine. That's not said to be mean, just a long way to say, "We don't have to agree with each other's parenting style but let's agree to respect each other... m'kay?"

Wouldn't it be nice if they created a book and just TOLD us how to parent? Which schools would produce the best students, the punishment that would have the greatest effect on our offspring, and how we can be better parents? The term helicopter parent has such a negative connotation in all the research that I've done. But I've been left to wonder if I am, in fact, a helicopter mom. Because, y'all? I am all up in their bizzzznesss....

I know where they are. I know what they are doing. I'm reading their cell phone messages. I'm reading their Facebook messages. I have their passwords. I check their grades daily, their homework daily, and I ask them about their day. I'm questioning what they are registering for in high school and making sure it ties in with what they want to do in life. In fact, I know when most all of my kids pooped last. (Although, it's so much easier to track the bowel movements of the boys because they announce it and compare the stink! What? Your boys don't yell "Fire in the hole!" prior to smelling up the joint?) So, by definition - not that knowing the last BM of your child is a requirement to earn the title - I AM a helicopter parent. 

But am I? For now, maybe... But my job, I feel, as a parent is to hover a little less as they get older. Because guess what? I'm not going to be around forever... There comes a time when they need to live for themselves. They need to know how to talk to their teachers. They need to ask questions about why they were or were not recommended for a certain class or program. They need to know how to apply for a job, how to follow up for an interview, and how to dress for the interview. Do they need help with these things? Yes! But they need to have the confidence to know that when they are out on their own, they will know how to take care of themselves without mom. I'm still going to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing, guiding them in their class selection, and knowing who they are hanging out with AND meeting their friends' parents before hand. They need someone hovering now. When they are 30 with a spouse and family of their own they don't. (Trust me!) 

So how about you? How do you define your parenting skills? Until next time....    

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  2. A helicopter parent (I'd never heard the term before today) sounds like it equals a good parent, at least when the child is younger :)
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  6. You've got a new reader Heather! Love your stuff and think your version of helicopter parenting means you love your kids and there is nothing wrong with that.

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  7. As a teacher, I think of a helicopter parent as someone being all up in everyone else's bizzzness concerning their kid. I love that you know where they are, their passwords etc. That is just solid parenting. I call the parents who are calling me constantly and wondering what their kid got on a test that I havent handed back yet, or want to know what I am going to do about their kid's missing assignment etc. helicopter parents.

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  8. I agree with the above commenter. I think what you are doing right now as a parent makes perfect sense! Sounds like great parenting to me. I do think there is a big problem, though, when my high schoolers are unable to do anything at all by themselves because they have a serious helicopter parent who has crippled them by "helping them" too much. That's the scary kind of helicopter parenting.

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  9. I think you're a good parent, not a helicopter parent :) I agree with Stephanie's comment above though, I had to help a family member fill out a job application (he was 24) because he didn't really know HOW to do it. His parents had mostly done those things for him rather than teach him how to do it. I have a 3 month old and I want to show her how to do things and I know I'll be all up in her business, but I want her to be a very independent kiddo.

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  11. I blog at Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad and am proud to wear the title. I truly appreciate when someone [anyone] recognizes that not all stories end tragically. I have a delightful teenager that has always been overprotective and she's a blessing to us and the world. That didn't happen by accident.

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