Monday, June 1, 2015

Mama Mondays : Helicopter Parenting

I am literally typing this in a cafe where I am watching a major helicopter mom micromanage every single second of her poor preschooler's lunch... 

Are you okay?
It's lunch time, honey, can you sit down?
No, not right there, right here.
Do you need help getting up on the chair?
No? (waits a nano second)  Here, let mommy help you.
Wait, let's take a selfie first.
Ready, set, cheese!
Honey, that wasn't a good one.  Can you please smile for the camera?
Do you want mommy to cut up your chicken into smaller pieces?
No? Okay. (Proceeds to chop chicken into micro bits anyway.)
(Child drops fork on the floor.)
Uh-oh! Are you okay, honey?
You have to be careful!  You could hurt yourself with that sharp fork!
(Note: fork is plastic)
Here, honey...hold mommy's hand and we'll go get a new fork.
What's the matter, honey?
Are you not hungry?
Are you not feeling good?
What can mommy do to help?

 Ho-ly sh!t.
I cannot even imagine what potty time entails,
let alone what the hell his future school years hold.
Am I that bad?!?!
For the love of God, I hope not.
If I am this stressed out by < 5 minutes with his mom,
I imagine this poor kid's on the brink of a nervous breakdown!

I usually only notice the helicopter moms on the playgrounds.
Do you know who I'm talking about?
Enter: The 9 Worse Parents at the Playground

The worst are the ones who, in between hovering over their own kids,
shoot you the stink eye as if wondering why the hell you're not doing the same with your own.  I know it's not the 1990's (and earlier eras), when kids were allowed to ride bikes to the pool or go exploring the neighborhood on their own.  Parents nowadays are so worried, bordering on paranoia, about their children.  I also believe these "helicopter parents" have only their children's best interests in mind, which are unfortunately amplified by the crazy, and sometimes cruel, world we live in.

 I am certainly guilty of some helicoptering behaviors myself (especially with my wild child / dare devil disguised as an 18 month old).  Being one that hates a mess does not help matters.

However, aren't there times when kids can just be kids and not have a grown-up critiquing every move and literally telling them how to play?  Isn't that one of the best gifts we can give to our children - time to explore and play (and thereby learn) on their own terms? I feel like some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around that luxury of  unstructured "time"...
Time to just lay in the grass and observe the clouds changing shapes in the sky.
Time to ride your bike with the neighborhood kids with no destination in mind.
Time to observe ant hills or chase the dog for hours on end.
Time to make-up games with friends.
Time to hang out in forts and tree houses where no parents are allowed.

One of my most important "mom goals" is to allow my boys to do as they please during "play time" (with age-appropriate and safety limitations, of course).  I ultimately want them to be able to learn from their mistakes as well as learn how to share and navigate through social conflicts on their own.  It has to start somewhere, right? So, why not on the playground?

Needless to say, this book is definitely on my "to read" list:

And here's another great helicopter parenting read, if you're interested!

Deep breaths, mama.
They might get a little wet and a little dirty.
They might skin their knees.
They might tell you so-and-so is mean or didn't wait his turn.
they're going to be just fine out there.

So sit back and soak in their wonderment
as they explore their own little worlds....

~ image via & / photo by bits of breezy ~

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