As I browse around a lot of the parenting websites that I often frequent. The term ‘Helicopter Parenting’ has come up quite a lot. At first I thought the term was quite funny and more tongue in cheek about parents who can sometimes be a bit paranoid when it comes to their little darlings. However I quickly learnt that there was a lot more to it than that.
So what is helicopter parenting? The official meaning according to google is a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children. Said like this, I don’t see what the big issue is. In my view, how other parents wish to raise their kids has nothing to do with me or anyone else but the parents of that child. However Helicopter parenting has evolved somewhat, and is now seen as nosy parents intervening in the raising and/or discipline of other people’s children.
So when is it ok to helicopter parent? and is it ever ok?
I remember when I was in Paris, and I was walking down the street. Down one of the Parisian side streets was a man dragging a young boy down the road into a car while the little boy screamed to the high heavens. At first glance I assumed that the man was the child’s father and that the boy was just throwing a tantrum for some reason or another. I continued to walk until a heavy feeling appeared in my stomach. What if he wasn’t the father? What if I had just witnessed an abduction but had done nothing because I had assumed it was nothing. I felt conflicted.
What was the right thing to do in this situation ? If this was the child’s father and I came in to helicopter over the situation I was surely going to piss him off. And rightly so. I would probably be a bit annoyed if my son was throwing a mega tantrum and some random came over to question what I was doing. But what if there was something sinister happening? How would I live with myself if my fear of upsetting someone and being seen as a nosy bystander stopped me from helping a child in need.
On the other hand there is the extreme of helicopter parenting. I have heard of many a story from fellow mums about nosy do-gooders intervening in things they have no place to intervene. I have heard of a stranger calling the police on a mother that let her pre-teen 12-year-old daughter sit in the car while she ran into the store to buy milk. Or have seen others criticize other parents choice of wipes, toiletries and child snacks to the point of bullying.
So is it ok to helicopter parent?
Thanks to a handful of overzealous parents overstepping the mark there is now a stigma around speaking up when you truly feel you should. I can see both ends. I know as a mother, if someone took it upon themselves to helicopter my child and challenge my parenting choices I would see red. But on the other hand if my child was in trouble, I pray that someone would have the guts to helicopter the situation and help my son.
So should we helicopter parent? If the situation truly has you fearing for the child’s safety. Then HELL Yes. It is worth possibly feeling embarrassed for 2 minutes than to realised you could have helped a child when they needed it and didn’t. But if you do not agree with another parents approach to parenting their child and there is no danger to the child. Then butt out! If a parent chooses to let their baby cry it out, go down the attachment parenting route or make their own parenting plan. It is NONE of your business!
There are too many stories of children getting hurt and nobody speaking up because they were scared to be seen as being a busy body. So lets stop helicopter parenting over trivial things, and encourage all of our fellow mummies and daddies to support each other no matter if you agree or disagree with their parenting method and speak up only when a child truly needs a voice!