– Maybe it’s because I’m a teacher and have experienced first hand the result of helicopter parenting.
– Maybe it’s because I believe to my core that you only give bandaids to gaping, bleeding wounds…not psychosomatic ones.
– Maybe it’s because I’m a busy mother of twins and just don’t have a lot left when all is said and done.
– Maybe it’s because I’m just mean, but I don’t hand out a lot of sympathy.
Yup…probably just because I’m mean.
If a Crazy (that’s what I affectionately call my spawn) comes to me with a scrape, I will respond with “it’s not that bad…look how brave you’re being” rather than “oh, my poor baby. What happened…let me give it a kiss.” This is partially because kissing open wounds is totally gross, but it’s partially because I just don’t think a scrape is that big of a deal (and I don’t want the Crazies to think it is either).
When newly toddling Crazies used to fall down, we’d laugh like it was the funniest thing in the world (because it typically was the funniest thing in the world). We wouldn’t rush over to help them up. We’d let them figure it out themselves…and they did.
Many times when a Crazy is trying to figure something out, to the point of frustration, I don’t step in, but will gently encourage from the sidelines. There are even times that I’ll encourage them to give up for a little while and go back to it later. There are even times that I’ll be totally silent and allow myself to proudly listen to their own self-talk.
If the Crazies get into one of their zillion fights a day, I really try to stay out of it. I pride them on being able to figure some of their own issues out at this point in their young 3.5-year old lives. If it cannot be resolved, I step in, but will only listen to the one that isn’t whining or frantic. Why? Because I just can’t stand the whining.
However, this may not always be the best thing. As I stepped out of the shower the other day and gave a “you’ve got to wait until I can come down there…it’s time to be patient” answer to one of their many demands, I realized that I could be setting myself up for a lifetime of parenting failures.
What if girl-Crazy comes to me with some tale of a friend who was mean to her and I blow it off as unsubstantial girl stuff? Then, what if girl-Crazy thinks that I don’t take her seriously and feels that she can’t come to me? What if she thinks that I don’t care about her and her problems…no matter how inconsequential they seem to me?
What if boy-Crazy comes to me telling me that a kid called him a name and I blow it off as something that’s “just kids?” What if he thinks that I don’t care and turns to a girl who is less than desirable and gets her pregnant and marries her at 15???
Okay, I’m a little off base with that one…rational thought isn’t premiere as I step out of the shower, apparently!
What if they only like Daddy because he gives them copious amounts of Bandaids when I’ve spent all day blowing off their scrapes and invisible injuries because I’m trying to build self-reliant, less dramatic kids that aren’t citizens of our Nation of Wimps???
Then I say to myself, “Self, put your darn robe on and calm down. There is a balance to everything you do. When it’s important, you will listen. When it’s dangerous, I will be there protecting my Crazies. When it comes to their well-being, I will do whatever I have to do to take care of them and keep them safe. This will not turn them into wimps. My ability to discern what is important and requires attention and what is not may be what turns them into well-developed adults that don’t count on me to call their college professors to argue their grades.”
What about you guys? Are you sympathetic? Not so much? Overly so? What is your philosophy?
(as I wrote this, girl-Crazy woke up from a nightmare and I spent 10 minutes talking about things she could dream about instead of “da mans,” so I can’t be that bad, right??)
I can definitely feel the pull towards ‘helicoptering’ and I know it stems from the difficult pregnancy, Nicu stays, and our B baby coming home on oxygen. I am better now that they are 2.5 and working on fostering independence. If they fall and get a scrape, I hug them and tell them I know it hurts, and sometimes we get hurt if we aren’t careful. (or whatever they were doing). These are kids who kiss the dogs, pick stuff up from the floor to eat (5 second rule), etc. I don’t want to hover, but also don’t want to be too distant It is a challenge!
There are so many things I do as a parent each day that I think twice about; the effort to not helicopter parent is not one of them. My twins were premature and spent 6 and 8 wks in the NICU. So I have had my share of worrying in their 2 1/2 years. I’m not sure if that makes me more likely to helicopter parent, and perhaps I’ve gone too far the other way. I’m certain that some my reluctance to intervene is from the exhaustion of parenting twins (my husband dubbed ours Zombie Hordes) and their older sis. Nonetheless, haven’t we all seen some of the results of intervening too much and is it pretty or healthy? I think it could end up breeding resentment on both sides eventually. Isn’t the goal independence? How will they want to strive for it if they can’t recognize it?
Great article, Rebecca! Thanks for sharing. And stay strong – a Crazy (or a Zombie) will never quit!
We are two moms made from the same mold! I parent in the same manner and I have those same thoughts of quilt of their future that doesn’t even exist! I think I have raised some pretty awesome and well balanced kids with this method. Keep up the great work!
One of my mommy friends mentioned kissing boo-boos the other day…and I flippantly commented, “I don’t think I’ve ever kissed a boo-boo.”
If you bump your elbow, it’s probably because you were doing something you shouldn’t have…and when you have an *actual* boo-boo, I cuddle, yes…but kisses don’t really do any good. Hahaha!
Yes, that sounds so harsh! But I’m trying to do the same as you. And, I DO think that when it’s serious, our kids know it, and so do we.
And who knows…maybe not coddling our kiddos too much actually makes our *real* cuddling carry more weight, too.
And THIS is why I love you!
Awesome post. I have the same sort of goals in mind, and I already believe my girls are stronger and more independent because of the way we have refused to make a big deal or worry about every little thing.
I do have to work on stepping back and letting them accomplish tasks on their own, though. I have a tendency to step in just to “get it done”…but that’s not teaching them anything.