Will the real helicopter parent please stand up?

6 Jan

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.

#helicoptermom looking over daughters shoulder while texting

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?

#helicopterparent and son pilot

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

22 Responses to “Will the real helicopter parent please stand up?”

  1. Ducks 'n a Row August 5, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    My mom was a heliciopter parent and dad took his lead from her example. I felt nurtured, loved, cared for and SAFE! Hooray for your parenting style!
    BTW…many kids wished they had my parents.
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  2. Tove Maren February 23, 2015 at 10:40 pm #

    As I am reading this I realize that we are SO helicopter parents. Our neighborhood kids run around outside – as kids should do… but they have ZERO supervision – ZERO – and I just cannot do that with 6 and 8 year olds – I just can’t… it takes a lot of work – as you acknowledge – but isn’t that why we became parents in the first place?! Thanks for writing this!
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    • Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad February 24, 2015 at 10:10 pm #

      Yes, yes, you get it. Not that we have to peer over their every move, when in a safe place…but why take a chance when it’s a riskier situation. Thanks for your thoughts and welcome to the group!
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  3. Deb June 19, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    I guess you could say I’m one of these “helicopter parents”. I didn’t even know there was a term for it until today, tbh (I found your blog through Sophie’s newsletter). I chose to start working from home when my son was born and to homeschool him because I didn’t want someone else to raise him; that was the start of it. I don’t hover around and dictate my son’s every move but I do make sure he’s raised in a safe and secure home. I used to think I was being overprotective until I watched a video the other day about gangs out in California–how some of the kids joined and started doing violent crimes at the young age of 10 and 11. That’s when I realized there’s nothing wrong with my style of parenting–lol.

    Personally, I think more “helicopter parents” are needed in this world. So many people have gotten to the point where they just shoo their kids out the door because they’re “in the way” or whatever, and the result is a generation of kids that I don’t want my son to associate with–where the kids dictate to their parents what *they* will do, etc. If someone wants to give me a derogatory label, that’s fine. I’ll proudly wear the badge. At least my kid isn’t in juvenile hall or acting like he’s the parent. He’s respectful, polite, smart, and kind to others. He’s not perfect by any means, but I think he’s doing better than many other children who don’t receive very much attention from their parents.

    Things were just different decades ago when I was a kid. It was okay for parents to send the kids out to play for hours at a time because the world was much cleaner and safer than it is right now, and you didn’t have to worry too much that their friends were going to “corrupt” them. There are now security guards patrolling the halls in the high school where I graduated and it wasn’t like that just 20 years ago. Thanks, but I’d like to keep my son away from *that* kind of reality for as long as he’s in his impressionable years. The bullies were bad enough back in the day; I can’t imagine how bad they are now…

  4. Crystal March 21, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I’m between the two parenting styles – leaning more towards helicopter. I HAVE to be involved in my kid’s lives on a fundamental level. I offer guidance and step back where I feel there is an opportunity to let them explore and grow, but not in situations where lack of judgment or experience could prove disastrous or damaging. I think you guys are awesome! And have raised a wonderful daughter!
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    • Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad March 22, 2014 at 7:16 am #

      Thank you for the kind comments Crystal. I appreciate you visiting this post and am so thankful that you “get” what we are trying to accomplish with our daughter. Not smothering, just guidance! Heading to your post to find out what having 5 kids has taught you-I can only imagine!
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  5. Teresa March 18, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    We lived in a rural area when our kids were younger which meant we had to take them where they were going or pick them up where ever they were, and it also meant lots of talk time driving to and from. We were definitely more “hands on” in our parenting style than other parents we knew but all our kids are in their 20s now and tell me that they wouldn’t have had it any other way. I found that a lot of listening was involved – especially with my daughter. I had to wade through the “he said, she said” that wasn’t all the interesting to me to get to the “good stuff” that a parent is concerned about. You’re right – being a parent involves TIME.
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    • Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad March 20, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

      Teresa, thank you so much for taking the time to reassure me that the kids appreciate this (albeit) when they are older. You always hear how the kids rebel and things backfire, but I don’t believe it. My daughter often says that she likes how I know her friends and that I worry when she’s away; some of her friends parents have no idea where their children are. I appreciate the kind words and like you, love those long talks when they are “hostage” in the car!
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  6. Claudia Schmidt March 16, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    I don’t really think of your actions as “helicoptering.” I am the same way with my 16 & 18 year old. Kid need guidance and we’re here to show them how to become independent and that takes a lot of input. I think it’s the smartest and most effective way to raise your kids, from my perspective. Looking forward to reading more on your blog (just found you)!
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    • Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad March 16, 2014 at 11:53 am #

      Thank you, I forget that sometimes we get nice comments on our parenting! ha hah I agree with you though, we have always felt that being involved was just parenting…but as we’ve learned more about this term, we definitely fit what others describe. And we’re okay with that. I’d rather say, upon my leaving this Earth, that I spent too much time with my daughter instead of not enough. Thanks for being a reader; we appreciate you!
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  7. Rabia March 9, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    I think the therm “helicopter parent” has gotten a really bad reputation. IT has been used to describe parents that are over-involved in their kids’ lives such as parents who will call the school to make a teacher change a bad grade, complete a class project or bully a coach into letting their child on the team. Those types of behaviors are surely not good for a child or the parent-child relationship. I don’t think of myself as a helicopter parents, but I’ve chosen to be involved in my kids’ lives. I know where they are at all times; they don’t roam the neighborhood; they don’t have access to the outside world that I don’t control (they are 10, 6, and 3). I do however, let them make their own choices about what to wear; I let them play by themselves; and I let me kids fight with each other because I think they are gaining important problem solving skills by doing so. I step in if they need some help getting their point across and I don’t *like* it when they fight, but it does feel good to see one of them stick up for her/himself and to see them come to a solution on their own.
    I think that parents who are involved in their kids’ lives and truly want the best for them are good parents; whether they consider themselves to be “hovering” or not.
    (Sorry for the novel.)
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  8. Marya March 9, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

    I agree completely. I was a free range kid and found lots of trouble. I have definiteky been a more involved mom and It has turned out well.

  9. Betsy March 9, 2014 at 1:23 am #

    Thanks for the interesting take on helicopter parenting. I’d heard the term as a “negative” more than a beneficial thing. I think there are benefits to both the involved and free range styles, and each family will ultimately find the balance that works for them :).
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  10. Bonnie Way March 8, 2014 at 11:37 pm #

    I’m not sure how I’d describe my parenting style… I’ve leaned toward “attachment parenting” which I’d say is probably closer to “helicopter parenting.” I remember, when I was growing up, attending seminars with my parents which encouraged “sheltering kids” (which was, back then, the equivalent of helicoptering, I guess). I agree with you that kids need us… and too often, we do let them go too soon. I can think of times when I was almost an adult and I wanted my dad to be more involved in my life than he was… so thanks for sharing this!
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  11. Carla March 8, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    I’ve always been a helicopter parent (did not know it until I just read what you wrote — I just thought of it as parenting) but was more so with my daughter. Not because she’s my daughter but because when she was a senior in high school (and 18) I came home from work and she was gone. She left because she did not feel the freedom that her friends had. Because of that I eased up on my boys and now the middle one won’t seem to leave. LOL Although, at 22 he still has to check in with me and keep certain hours so it’s not like I just let things go. My youngest just joined the Navy. I have no idea what that means but I’m proud of him for making an adult decision.
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    • Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad March 11, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

      I’m so sorry to hear about the conflict with your daughter. It definitely crosses my mind that at some point I may cross a line with mine and she’ll run screaming from our home. As she has gotten older, we have loosened up the reins a bit naturally but I can’t say that I like it. I have prepared her for leaving but I dread that day coming. I envy you having the strength to let your little one join the Navy. Such a wonderful profession (we loved the military) but so different than life at home. I’m proud of you and him; not an easy decision. Thanks for sharing your story; you definitely got me thinking.
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      • Carla March 11, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

        I should tell you now that my daughter and I are very close now. She has four children and I spend tons of time with her and her family. After she left we had a rough patch because I was blindsided but when she became pregnant with her first child we became very close again. I was even there for the birth of my first grand child! Just don’t want you to think it was all bad but I may have been a little too strict with her (oh, and she pretty much raises her kids the exact same way so it can’t be all bad!).
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        • Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad March 11, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

          Oh that is wonderful news. I definitely think that some kids can handle more freedom and will succeed, even if it’s just to spite us! There is something so great about a baby; it brings us all together. And I love that she now parents her kids the same way. No matter what happens, we all turn into our moms!!
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  12. David Bennett March 6, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    It’s great that you feel this way. Of course your approach is likely to work because you want your children to flourish.

    Some parents are intent on undermining their children. Then it’s a different story.
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