Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No Helicopter HashBrown Here

I had a brief chat with a friend this evening and it reminded me of who I don't want to be as a parent.  No, no, it wasn't my friend - she is a very good parent.  But we were basically talking about Helicopter Parents. 

I just don't understand Helicopter Parents.  You know the type.  They hover like helicopters when their perfectly healthy & able children are trying to play and explore.  These kids are often forbidden from participating in activities that might be dangerous in the slightest.  Soccer is a maybe, but Football is a definite NO.  These kids are practically outfitted in bubble-wrap when riding a bike, rollerblades, or skateboards. . .if they are allowed to participate in such a "dangerous" activity at all.  These kids have Stranger Danger drilled into their heads so completely that they probably begin to fear their own shadow by the time they reach elementary school.

The children of Helicopter Parents are taught, indirectly at least, that the world is a scary place and it should be feared.  I disagree.  Is the world all unicorns and rainbows?  Heck no!  But it also doesn't have danger and pain lurking behind every corner.

Crime is down since I was a kid, but stupid jackass "stunts" and "extreme sports" are up.  I kind of think that kids have less to fear from strangers than they do from themselves.  Specifically, their lack of painful experiences leads them to do things that can really screw them up.  Getting hurt serves as a great educator, but it's tough to get hurt when you have to suit up like a Star Wars Storm Trooper just to ride your dang bike around the block.  Actually, these kids probably aren't allowed to go around the block, but you know what I mean.

I didn't always feel this way.  For a period of time, I became somewhat Helicopter-ish myself.  Even worse, I allowed other Helicopter Parents to dictate how I was raising my own child.  Well, "dictate" is a pretty strong word to use because not a word was spoken directly to me.

As most kids do, my son went through a biting and a hair-pulling phase and he went through it at a fairly young age.  Thanks to over-reaction, I spent several months jumping all over my son at the slightest hint of misconduct.  In full Helicopter Parent-mode, I hovered constantly.

One day I noticed that my son was effectively being bullied by a child who he had been rough with months earlier.  My son was passively taking the mistreatment and the parent who had been so bothered by my son's previous conduct didn't seem all that concerned about their own child's behavior.  That really bothered me, to say the least.

I realize that I was wrong to so harshly correct such a young child.  I was also wrong to change my parenting philosophy to fit in with another parent.  If I had it to do over again, I'd just redirect him to a new activity rather than take the course of action that I did.

To this day, I fear that I squashed too much of my son's lively and energetic spirit.  And I resent that I did it to meet some unspoken expectations that I was under no obligation to meet in the first place.  No, I am not a Helicopter Parent any longer. . .and I hope to never be one again.

What I Want for My Son
By MrsHashBrown
I want my son to climb. . .even if he might fall.
I want my son to fall. . .so he'll learn that it hurts.
I want my son to learn what hurts. . .so he'll be more careful.

I want my son to try new things. . .even if he might fail.
I want my son to fail. . .so he'll learn to try harder.
I want my son to try harder. . .so he'll excel.

I want my son to explore. . .even if he might get lost.
I want my son to get lost. . .so he'll learn to stay close or at least learn directions!
I want my son to learn directions. . .so he'll be able to find his way around town.

I want my son to fight if he has to. . .even if he might lose.
I want my son to lose. . .so he'll learn how to win.
I want my son to win. . .because I love him.


  1. I agree that helocopter parents suck ass. Our old neighbor was one of those parents. The kids were great, very polite did nothing wrong and did not get into trouble when they were younger. Unfortunatly, the oldest son when he turned 18 wanted a bit more freedom. Afterall, he was an adult, graduated from High School with A's & B's and an all around good kid.

    The mother did not like the fact that he wanted to spread his wings so to speak so she make him get out of the house for good. Paul & I decided to take him in and help him out. Treat him like an adult and make him have some responsibilities if he was going to stay with us. We made him pay $200 per month in rent, my husband got him a job where he worked so this could be done and get him into the real world.

    Well since he had been hovered over for 18 years this kid had no idea what the world was really like. He never learned peer preasure because his mother hovered so much that they did home schooling. Needless to say, this sweet, smart, nice, respectful boy got involved with the wrong people. He ended up doing the last thing you would ever think just looking at this kid. He got into drugs and ended up robbing paul and I of over $15,000 worth of electronics, CD's etc for 2 eight balls of meth.

    Because he had been hovered over, he was never allowed to explore, to climb and to fall, to get hurt and to learn. He was thrown into the real world without any knowledge of it.

    I feel for children of parents like this. I let mine climb trees, fences and ride their bikes without helmets. Why should i raise my kids or keep my kids from doing the same things I was allowed to do.

    Good for you for not being a helocopter parent.

    Oh and NONE of my kids went through a biting phase. Thank God. =)

  2. Thanks for weighing in on this Stacey. You're a good parent and I value your thoughts on this matter. I think it's cool that you balance being involved in their activities with giving them the freedom to just be kids.

    That story about the former neighbor's son is a cautionary tale if I've ever heard one! As I told another Mom earlier today, the sad thing is that these Helicopter Parents think they're doing their kids a favor, but it's really just the opposite.

    I agree with you that part of the joy of being a kid is to do "dangerous" things like climb trees or hop fences. I seem to recall jumping the 3 or 4 foot block wall to get to your house quite a bit! I don't want to deprive my son of some of the fun things I did as a kid - even if there is a hint of possible danger. Heck, there's a hint of danger in darn near every aspect of life. . .why not let your kids enjoy themselves and have a little fun?

    PS Your kids were easy to transition to big kid beds and they were never biters? You were so LUCKY!!