I am the first to admit when my kids are out of control. Really. I am. I’ll usually roll my eyes, let out a deep sigh or an “Oh my word!” and quickly remove myself and my kids from the situation… after I’ve threatened them with their lives, that is.
Sunday, however, was not one of those days.
I had met my bestie at the mall and between the two of us we had six boys under 7. (She had traded in her daughter for her nephew.) Anyway, the boys wanted to play on the playground, even though it was near 100 degrees out, but we allowed it as we sat in the shade and chatted. Soon enough, they came over all red-cheeked and we let them take their shirts off… because they’re boys and they can. That led to playing in the small fountain by the playground, which we also allowed, because like I said it was hellish hot. I’ve seen plenty of kids play there and I knew it wasn’t against mall policy. We set boundaries; no standing on the fountain and no getting people wet that don’t want to be wet.
They had a blast! They were getting soaked and giggling and yelling with glee and running around chasing each other. Pure childlike fun. Typical kid stuff, right?
Apparently, their behavior was disrespectful. Well, according to another mom on the playground, they were completely disrespectful. And I know this not because she confronted either me or my BFF, but because she muttered it as she was walking past us removing her child from being around our little hooligans. She even went so far as to call security to come over. Lame. The security guy came (on his stand-mobile-thing-a-ma-jig) and told us that our kids would probably have more fun at the bigger fountain. He was right, but part of me wanted to stay just to bug this other mother, but we didn’t.
There’s a few names I have for this other mother. One I will not publish on my blog. Another is coward because she couldn’t just come up and tell us her concern. And the last is a helicopter parent.
What is a helicopter parent, you ask? One that hovers. One that never lets their child out of their sight. Which is easily accomplished as a helicopter parent because they never actually let their child further than five feet from their person. Their kids never take risks because they aren’t allowed… they have boundaries for goodness sakes! Their kids never make mistakes, because their heli-parent is always there to protect them from failing. Their kids miss out on a lot of natural kid activity; things like drinking out of the hose, riding their bikes in the street, or digging in the dirt… because God forbid they should eat a little of it… shudder!
One of the biggest problems with helicopter parents is that they are extremely judgy. Case in point, heli-mommy at the park. Because she has practically closed the lid on the teeny tiny box that she keeps her kids in, anyone that has slightly wider boundaries for their own children is wrong. Their kids are misbehaved and unruly, she says. If heli-parent isn’t a coward, they will probably actually step in and try to parent your kids for you, because Lord knows you aren’t doing a very good job on your own.
Calling them down from the top of a play structure, lest they fall. Barking at them to slow down as they run through the park, not the mall, the park… a place for running. Stepping in during disagreements when the children would have actually benefitted from using their own problem solving skills. These are all things you can catch heli-parent doing as she tries to parent your kids.
What she fails to see is that these other kids, these unruly, disrespectful kids, they are actually normal. They are exhibiting completely normal childlike behavior. What she fails to see is that children are not mini-adults that need to be confined and restricted into behaving in a mature way all the time. They can actually be free to be youthful, and childish, because they are children.
The biggest problem with helicopter parents are their children that will one say become adults. They are raising them in such a way that I believe they only have a choice of becoming two types of adults.
One, they will become spoiled brats. They will think the world revolves around them, they never have anything go wrong, and mistakes are not an option. The sad part is that things do go wrong, and mistakes will happen, and unfortunately these adults won’t have the tools to handle it.
Secondly, these kids will grow up to become very fearful adults. Mostly because their parents instilled fear in them by never allowing them to take risks, never allowing them to step outside of their box, and once again never being allowed to feel failure or mistakes.
So, yes, that mom on the playground bugged the be-Jesus out of me and made my blood boil with her judgy attitude and her tattle-telling ways. I guess I have to walk away thankful that my children will actually experience a real childhood, mudpies for dinner, and all.
Have you ever met a helicopter parent? What do you think? Maybe you are a helicopter parent… defend yourself!