| Jomelle Thomas

What The Heli is Going on?

I have never understood helicopter parenting.  I can barely get through my own day, never mind micromanage two small humans in addition to that. Whenever I win the parenting lottery and have a small window of five minutes of time in my day to pause and look around, I try to watch the world around me because I'm a sucker for human behavior. Because my world revolves around my kids, those behaviors tend to be either that of children or their parents.  I'm honestly baffled by the helicopter parenting trend.  I just don't get it.

I was raised the oldest of four children.  My dad worked as a contractor during the day and my mom worked at a plastics factory at night until she scored a day job when we were older in the school department (that was a much cushier gig than working in a plastics factory). We went to school, came home, did our homework and then we went outside to play: unattended (gasp!). We'd play in the neighborhood or even go over to another neighborhood, and we'd come home for dinner.  On the weekends, we'd be outside playing for almost the full day, and somehow, miraculously, we didn't need to coordinate playdates and logistics and map things out on apps and calendars and work out algorithms to figure out how to do it, we just did.

Studies show that a lot of helicopter parenting can be blamed on the fact that we have too much information at the ready.  Social media, research and educational information, parenting blogs and articles, all of it - just information overload.  We're always trying to be the BEST parent, and in doing so, we end up micromanaging down to the finest details, forgetting that we sometimes have to let kids do and figure things out for themselves.

I did a little research, and found some great ideas for parents who want to land the copter and start to extract and let their kids be more self-reliant:

1. Make a "Kid Resume."  Sit down with your child and a piece of paper and write "Jenny is Four, and she can do these things(*)". Then work with your child to list of all the things she can accomplish at this age.  Maybe revisit within six months.

2. Create an "I DID THIS!" list.  Create and post a list when your child accomplishes something new and put a date and a star next to it.

3. Help your child "Get The Picture."  I *loved* this one, from Dawn Arnold of Mazon, IL, mother of a 5-year-old. “I filled a small photo album with pictures of my daughter doing all the things she needs to do in the morning before school, after school, and before bed. Now she follows along every day. It lets her be independent, but the things that I think are important are still getting done.” (*)

We all want to be there for our children and let them know they are safe and loved, but we also want them to grow up to be independent, well-rounded, giving, and grounded individuals as well. It's time we land the helicopters.

(*) Noted from parenting.com article.

Tags: Parenting

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