Monday, February 15, 2010

Hover Much?

I read this very interesting article, which left me wondering:

Am I a helicopter parent?

I definitely think that I could be. I like to schedule activities for Will, I like to make sure that we are learning, developing, and growing all of the time. I hate to see him too frustrated (though I will let him try things on his own), so I will step in to help him. But I think those are all normal parenting goals and desires, so when does one cross the line between helping their child(ren) and overparenting?

I recently joined a mothers' group through my church. We are all relatively new moms in the game for two years or less. As I sat around the snack table today, trading recipes, secrets to get our kiddos to eat veggies, and tips on handling separation anxiety, I did feel a bit. . . Stepford Mom. I really try hard not to be one of those moms and none of these moms really are that way, but sometimes, when it comes to kids, food, playing, sleeping, etc., the Donna Reed in all of us has the potential to emerge. We all want what is best for our child(ren) and our intentions are pure, that I am sure of, but when does it become excessive?

I do not want to be a Helicopter Mom. I want Will to make his own decisions, learning from his mistakes and flourishing in his victories. I want him be independent and able to stand on his own two feet. But at the same time, I want him to know that I am always there for him and I want to help guide him in this world. It's a scary place out there and there is such a limited time in which I can really take care of things. I also don't want to be an absentee parent, with one of those kids that you are looking around, wondering where the mom or dad is and why they are not stepping in to help and/or reign in their little darling.

I guess I will just have to keep walking the line. I will make my own mistakes and victories along the way, of that I am sure.


Sophie said...

Magda Gerber, Magda Gerber, Magda Gerber. In all your free time, if you ever need yet another parenting book, I think hers are really worth reading. Changed the way I view frustration, etc. Love her.

Katie said...

Thanks, Sophie! I don't have a ton of free time for reading if it's not Elmo or Good Night Moon.
But I always love a good recommendation. I will have to google her!

Jen said...

I found this article at work on the kitchen table and read it over the course of a few days while microwaving my lunches. This very much describes many parents I see these days, and I too hope I am not like them. Sometimes I feel like I am too loose with Jillian compared to other moms (let her climb on things provided the fall won't hurt too much, let her play alone in her well proofed bedroom, etc). Hopefully I haven't gone to far on the other end of the perspective!

Debby said...

i think the fact that you are even asking the question, means you are not a heli mom. in my experience, helicopter mom's (or dad's) are pretty clueless that what they are doing is not quite normal. I've never gotten a helicopter mom vibe from any of your blogs - just that you're a great mom!

peesticksandstones said...

Debby took the words right out of my mouth. Seriously, the worst offenders are clueless.

I only skimmed the article, since reading that stuff often gets me all upset for no reason and I'm trying to avoid that now. But I feel like so much of these types of articles are about villifying the MOMS, and that just pisses me off from a feminist perspective.

Growing up, I recall all my friends had divorced parents/everyone was a "latchkey kid", etc. So I guess this current trend is sort of overcompensating in a way. But really, I'm sure every generation of moms has been told she's "going it wrong" by someone (usually a dude). Yet somehow, kids keep turning out okay!

That's awesome about your church group, by the way. I'm still looking for a group I feel really good with.

HereWeGoAJen said...

I think you are fine. I don't think that providing healthy food and dealing with separation anxiety are even coming close to the line. Maybe if you were making him wear a helmet to keep from hitting his head, we'd have to have a conversation. :)

Anonymous said...

B is a little too little yet for me to really feel like I'm falling on one side of the fence or the other at this point. But I can speak for my own mom, who let me try and try on my own until I got it right, even if I was beyond frustrated. Because of that I'm fiercely independant yet never ever question her love or compassion for me. Yet my sister is my complete opposite... my parents always did everything for her and now, at age 22, she struggling with something as simple as understanding her tax return. She also feels completely loved by our mom, but wishes she would have been left to do some more things on her own. I think when I see B struggling to perform tasks at this point (like putting rings on his rock-a-stack) I let him do it on his own until he gets it right, but I'm right there to reinforce what he's doing and praise him when he gets it.

Motherhood is totally trial and error.

Sunny said...

I completely hear you... my son is so SMALL and clearly needs me, I want to be there for him whenever I can. I think it needs to be a gradual process of letting him learn and gain independence, and the fact that you are being conscious of it means you won't be guilty of helicopter parenting. My husband and I cannot stand people who feel entitled and rely on others to support them, so hopefully we will have the strength to let our kids struggle and learn when they need to.

Nicky said...

Yeah, I read that article, too. I think that everybody struggles with the right balance of teaching self-reliance and also being an involved parent. I just keep reminding myself that *age* *matters.* Parental behavior that is "hovering" at one age might be perfect for another age. You NEED to hover over newborns, because they really are helpless. That same behavior at age 18, or even age 4, is just freaky.

My personal approach is to let LL work things out on his own if it's not going to cause serious injury. He falls, he fails, he gets frustrated, but I give him some time to work it out before I offer a hand. Usually. But I also kind of think that, at this age, a LOT of hovering is necessary. I just keep reminding myself that each day/week/month, I need to take another step back and give him more and more room.

Danifred said...

Hi, almost helicopter mom here! I constantly struggle with being TOO involved. I know that Tot is independent, it's the other little rugrats I worry about.