My husband and I have lived under the constant scrutiny of a nation that does not understand our parenting style. Not only don’t they understand, but many of them don’t even care to try. Just like the extra effort needed to stay involved in their children’s lives, it isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it.
Please don’t misunderstand and think that we intend to bash those parenting styles that don’t mimic our own, we don’t. The truth is that we feel everyone has a right to decide what works best for their family. Children prosper when they are part of a tight knit family that recognizes their importance to the family unit and humanity. Regardless of your parenting style choices, the most important thing to remember is that we are all doing what we feel is best.
As helicopter parents, we take great pride in attending to our daughter’s every need. The amount of involvement hasn’t lessened as she’s grown, it’s just changed. Gone are the days where we pick out her clothing, carry her to and from school, and schedule her play dates. Now it’s driving her back and forth to the mall, helping her complete homework and explaining appropriate behavior when hanging out with boys.
Staying involved in all aspects of your children’s lives is exhausting, heart wrenching, difficult and, well, feel free to insert your own adjective. Let me also suggest loving, caring and rewarding. As parents, we want the best for our children. As helicopter parents, we know the best for our children is our guidance, protective natures and willingness to share our life experiences. We don’t just tell them what is expected, we show them, we make sure it is done and we discuss how they handled the situation.
This differs from the lenient or “free range” style, which promotes freedom from worry as children navigate life. Just as we seem overprotective and lingering to these parents, helicopter parents often feel others are neglectful, dangerous and risky. In most instances the tasks are the same; however the way we allow these tasks to be accomplished is very different.
Helicopter parents are often described as over-parenting their children by paying extremely close attention; harming them in the process. Pardon me; aren’t we supposed to know what goes on in our children’s lives? If hovering over our children is so wrong, then why do many children feel the need to attract attention from parents with our style? We believe it’s because they aren’t getting it at home.
Not because they aren’t loved, they are, but their parents feel that children will succeed in raising themselves and trust their limited words are enough guidance. Free Range parents believe that the trials and tribulations of daily life build character in their sons and daughters and asking them to deal with whatever comes, is simply part of the learning process. In contrast, we believe we have valuable knowledge to impart on our children. Why should they suffer through the issues that are bound to present without being taught what to do?
We disagree that helicopter parenting harms our children. Our teenage daughter is a happy, healthy, kind person that enjoys a wonderful relationship with her parents and extended family. At a time when most children her age aren’t even speaking to their parents, we have retained a close loving bond. She has been catered to in all aspects of her life and knows without a shadow of a doubt, her entire family supports her. Admittedly, this support is unsolicited on her part and offered whether she asked for it or not. We truly believe that she has been able to better handle situations because we had ingrained them in her from the start.
She never had to be afraid to come to us to discuss controversial topics or when she was having an issue with friends. She did not have to learn what to do by asking her peers; clearly not the best choice with teenagers. Things are not always smooth, particularly as she grows and we head into more serious topics such as driving and sex, however she knows that she can rely on us to be there. As she matures, she approaches less and less; we view this as success on our part. She obviously has the tools necessary to circumvent precarious situations.
We have always behaved respectfully toward our daughter and other children [yes we hover over them too] and allowed her to maintain dignity; a truth that most naysayers forget when they are condemning our parenting style. We have not restricted her right to be a kid or hampered her free will in any way, just added an extra layer of protection as she bounded through life.
She does not fear taking chances, speaking with adults, or standing up for her beliefs. She understands the risks involved in some activities and remembers to remain vigilant. In short, she was not left to raise herself while we stood on the sidelines and hoped for the best. We made a conscious choice to involve ourselves in her world, ignoring the criticism and teasing of parents that don’t understand our choices, and we wouldn’t change a thing. Kids grow up all too soon, let’s step back, enjoy every second with them, and not be so fast to push them into this great big world alone.
What is your parenting style? What do you think about ours?
Hovering high and low, Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad
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