Helicopter Parents

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 not.

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!

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10 responses

  1. I think I am a helicopter parent, but not to that extreme, and I would never sick a security guard on someone. I also don’t tell other people’s kids to get off the top of play structures, I just make it clear to my children that will not be part of their park experience. Here’s my helicopter tendency’s 1. I don’t let my kids play in the front yard unsupervised. We have a huge backyard and they are welcome to play to their hearts content, but if they want to play in the front, I am going to be there for the next several years. 2. They have to hold my hand in parking lots, or at least hold each others hand and one be holding mine. 3. They may not answer the door without permission.

    Those are my helicopter tendencies, and I am okay with that.

  2. I think my tendencies lean toward helicopter parent, but I prefer that to “Oblivious Parent,” which is the opposite extreme. My children are well behaved, and I often have other parents telling me so.

    Do I want to be an extreme “Helicopter” parent (as you described)? NO. But I refuse to be an “Oblivious” parent. I think we all need to be aware of our tendencies and work toward balance between the two.

    In our small community, it is easier for me to allow my kids to be kids than when we lived in Rancho Cucamonga. It is safe here. It is safe for them to play outside unsupervised and ride their bikes in the street. I put boundaries up for the kids (and leave the door open so I can hear them playing). My 12 yo has more freedom than my 6 yo. But at darn near every moment, I know where they are, what they are doing, and who they are with.

    It works for me…

    (But I would never stick security on another parent – unless something absolutely neglectful or abusive was going on. And in that case it would be police, not security.)

  3. I probably tend toward being helicopterish. I want the boys to have a childhood. I am not a germ-o-phobe. They play with worms and catch crickets and smash things in the backyard. In public places, I will not step in against other children unless they are harming my boys, but I do want my kids to be respectful of the people around them. It is also important for them to know how to stand up for themselves. I do call them down from the top of structures and couches, not for fear of injury, but to teach them to be respectful of property. At some point they will be responsible for acting in a socially acceptable fashion, and if I haven’t taught them those things, they are faced with being embarrassed by “unacceptable” behaviour down the road. I don’t mean to squelch their fun, I just want them to know that there are other people around them to take into consideration.

    I don’t agree with that mom. It’s not worth getting angry and huffy. Life is too short to spend time judging others and their parenting methods. You never know what the other family is going through. My friend faces judgement for her child’s behaviour all the time. What they don’t know is that her child has Autism. In a public place, if you don’t like someone else’s behaviour, give the 5-minute warning and then GO FIND ANOTHER PARK, CRAZY JUDGEY MOM! They are children, after all.

  4. I want my boy to grow up to be warriors! I want my kids to grow up in a world that says fear nothing! Conform to no one! Be who God has created you to be!
    You are Gods warrior! You will get hurt but by looking into His face you will find your healing- sometimes others may not like the decisions you make but if you look to Jesus with eyes of humility you will know when to say sorry and when it’s time to change your company. Mommy is not here to protect you from a dangerous world, mommy is here to show you you are the son of the king of the world where fear has not control over you. But mommy will always be here to give you a great big hug when you make a mistake or get your heart hurt. I don’t want to take away your pain I just want to comfort you throughout it. Pain is Gods beautiful way of growing you into the man he wants
    you to be.

  5. I don’t know. Does it have to be one or the other? If you’re not a helicopter mom (which I have decided that I’m not… can you tell from the post?) does that make me more of an oblivious mom? Because I don’t consider myself that either. Isn’t there an in between, where I allow my kids certain freedoms, and I let them take risks (even if that means failure) or stand by and let them make their own mistakes without being the “oblivious mom?” Letting my kids climb to the top of the swing set to pretend that their captains of a pirate ship… that’s just imaginations at work, right? Why stop it? The difference is, when my kids behavior impedes on other people’s social freedoms (eating in peace at a restaurant, shopping at the grocery store without running your cart into crazy children) that’s when I step in a do something. Otherwise, I say let kids be kids.

    • No, I didn’t think you were calling me an oblivious mom. I guess I was just thinking that if one end of the spectrum os “Oblivious Mom” and the other end is “Helicopter Mom” then I must fall smack dab in the middle. I think people call that “Super Mom Territory.” Hahaha!

  6. Do you think you could be a Helicopter Mom and not be judgmental towards others? I think that’s me, I really don’t care what you let your kids do. How you parent is “your style” & how I parent is “my style.” No two moms can do it the same because no two kids are the same. Each family to its own. I’ve always said, “you do what works for your family & I’ll do what works for mine” … my kids know what I expect & for me they need to follow my rules! Being a kid & having fun is part of that! Personally I wouldn’t let it bother you, you’re a great mom & your kids will be fine. Only you know how to meet your kids’ needs! If that means getting in the fountain then I say, “splash away!”

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