Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Do I Hover? (PYHO)

I recently learned the term "helicopter mom." A coworker explained the term to me and I remained on the fence about whether or not I am one. I mean, my kid isn't even two, right? Surely some hovering is required at this stage of life. In fact, a lot of hovering. (Hopefully, right?)

Fast forward to Saturday, when we went to a neighborhood backyard party. There was music, a trampoline and a huge play place, complete with slide, rock wall and see saw.

It was kid heaven and Toph immediately wanted to play. He was the youngest kid there and I didn't feel right about just turning him loose. So, I stayed with him. I guided him up the ladders, I caught him at the end of the slide, I hoisted him up on the trampoline.

At one point, I looked around and found I was the only parent not visiting. I was the only parent at the play place. I was the only one keeping a careful eye on her kid.

At the time, I kind of got worried, thinking that they would think my son is "chiflado" (spoiled) and that I didn't trust the play equipment. I was worried about their opinion of me, like maybe I was using Toph as an excuse not to socialize. At one point I did yearn to go and visit, to work the crowd, but the thought of my kid falling off the play place had a sort of magnetic pull on me.

So, I stayed. We played. I watched. He had fun. Maybe I hovered. I don't care.

What do think? Am I displaying characteristics of a helicopter in the making?

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Sweaty said...

Don't worry about 'hovering' too much, Gin. There will come a time when no matter how much you want to hover, your precious one would not allow you to ;) Don't let fear of others' judgment prevent you from going with what your heart thinks is right.

Anonymous said...

No, you did not hover. Hovering in terms of helicopter parent means rescuing your child from experiences meant to teach them something and not allowing them to try, succeed, fail, and gain confidence and a sense of self. But I always qualify that with 1) Are they old enough to know better or make the decision? 2)Have I helped teach them the info they'll need to make this decision (like how to be safe jumping on the trampoline) 3) Are they going to be physically hurt doing this activity? People may call me a helicopter parent for watching my two year old on the playground, but those same people often are hauling their kids to the ER, oblivious to the bullying interactions their kids are involved with, and having kids that run wild in social situations. We let our daughter try new things, but we also consider her developmental readiness and experience when deciding whether to "hover" in a particular situation. I think the fear of helicopter parenting is confusing parents into a backlash of withdrawing where they should be involved responsibly. Don't second guess yourself; I would do the same thing!

Kathy Kramer said...

Visiting from PYOH:

This might fall into tl;dr territory, but here goes.

My "little one" is twenty. I'm married to the adult child of the Blackhawk of helicoptor moms. Unfortunately, the perception is true about them because this need to hover is rooted in insecurity. In my MIL's case, it's rooted in some serious mental illness.

I'm not implying that you're mentally ill. It's normal to want to protect your children, and that need is more when you only have one.

Helicoptering isn't so much hovering as it is swooping in to fix things for your kids when they should be learning to do this for themselves. When a child is learning to walk and they fall, your impulse is to help them up. Most parents step back and let the child get up on their own. The helicopter parent swoops in to pick them up every time.

Children who are helicoptered then depend on the parent to fix things for them. When they grow up, they become adults who don't know how to perform simple life skills that we all take for granted.

What you do right now is normal. It's continuing to do this when your son is older is when it becomes harmful.

What has helped me when I was raising my son is knowing this: our children are on loan to us from God. We do not own them. They are not our possessions. They are people. It is our job to raise them and teach them how to become functioning, well adjusted members of society. It is our job to help them discover the people they truly are.

People who think that their children are possessions and "theirs" are the ones who helicopter. Parents who have no concept of appropriate boundaries tend to helicopter. My MIL has serious mental illness and enmeshment issues and it's gotten to the point where my husband has had to cut her out of his life in order to get her to leave him alone. Her "helicoptering" reached a point where she has tried breaking up my marriage. She still thinks she needs to protect her 40 year old son from this danger only she can seem to see. She has no regard for him as an adult or his right to make his own decisions.

Mine is a very extreme case, though.

If you have another child, the worrying and the tendency to hover will diminish. I understand how uncertain it is when you have one child. Every step in raising them is new.

Good luck. :)

Shell said...

I think age makes a huge difference. When they actually need our help, we should be there.

At my oldest's birthday party this year, the kids were all old enough to be on all the equipment by themselves(they are 6-7) but while the other moms sat and talked, I played with the kids.

Not hovering, not acting like they couldn't do anything without me, but simply having fun with them.

Jester Queen said...

I think at that age he needs you to hover. I'm sure the other parents understood, because they had all had kids that age pretty recently. If, when he reaches the age the other kids at that party are now you are still boosting and standing right there to help, THEN you should worry. But for now, I'd say you're doing just exactly right.

RTP_in Heels said...

stopping by from PYHO. I worry about being a helicopter parent too. As a teacher, I can't stand those types of parents. I have also watched my aunt smother my cousin to the point where he doesn't have is own identity outside of her (he's 25!!!). Thanks for the honesty. Stop on by if you'd like. I'll be coming back to read more!

Stasha said...

You can not hover too much while they are still in diapers!! Now if you do the same at his wedding, you have a problem :)

Christa aka The BabbyMama said...

The P. is three. I hover. Because she sometimes falls off of things and while I don't mind her falling off of low things, I'd rather her not break her back until she's over 18 and moved out, ha!

Eve said...

Right now our boys are still babies, Gin. For goodness sake, we still tell people they're age in months. They need us! It's not hovering to help Toph climb the jungle gym or play on the swings. That being said though, I think it's important to let them be boys. As much as we might hate it, they are going to fall, hurt themselves, and learn lessons. Those are things we just cannot stop, no matter how hard we try or "hover".

This may shock you, but I am SO not a helicopter mom. I'm much more laid back in my parenting style. I am all about letting my son explor the world and learn naturally. (Bruises and all) I don't agree with the above commenter who said that the parents who let their kids explore are the ones taking their kids to the ER. That's just silly to say.

If I were at a backyard party with friends like you were, I would have asked if a few parents wouldn't mind sitting a little closer to where the kids were playing. I'd explain that my son isn't as coordinated yet as the older kids, and I really want to keep an eye on him. That way, I could watch my boy without feeling left out of the party. That's my two cents anyway!

Eve said...

Crap! I just read a few grammatical errors in my comment. UGH. I hate when that happens! I guess that's what I get when I try to eat lunch and comment at the same time!