Helicopter Parenting : When You Should Speak Up And When You Should Shut It
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 HELLYes. 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!
Check out on my post on when my son burnt his hand under my supervision, despite being a vigilant parent.
This is so true! I too have felt conflicted on if I should interfere/speak up if I see a stranger disciplining their child in a way I wouldn’t… how to balance when to speak up for the child vs. not tell a parent how to parent without being in their shoes. I agree with your assessment – to speak up when the child needs a voice.
I have never heard of this term until now. I find it very interesting. I would never State my two cents on a parent disciplining their child unless it was harming them. I think that is the only time anyone should step in confidently.
I am a teacher so, helicopter parent mainly means to me…the parents who emails you about every assignment. They do not teach their children to handle situations with their teachers on their own. They may blame the teacher for what their child is not learning or a poor grade, etc. In terms of being a mom. I totally agree, parenting styles are all different and you have to respect other people’s choices. But, it truly takes a village, right? I have no problem with someone swooping in to help me if I need it.
I now have three kiddos and I am totally outnumbered when I take all of them out by myself. We went for a walk by a lake near my home and my middle daughter took off. The more I chased, the more she ran away from me. I had my infant in the stroller and my oldest was on foot. I was panicked. I can’t leave my infant in the stroller and run after my runaway toddler. But, I can’t let my toddler run away! A wonderful woman riding a bike on the path asked me what her name was, rode her bike over to my toddler, and gently herded her back to me. It was amazing! I felt so grateful that the woman intervened. Please, sometimes I DO need help. I think sometimes people do not intervene because they think the parent will get mad. I was not mad at all.
I have also had people in checkout lines talk to my kiddos to keep them occupied. On a plane a woman heard me unsuccessfully convincing my middle daughter (she is a feisty one) to put on her seatbelt and turned around to help. She was so sweet as her two teenagers cooed over my newest addition. I am willing to be vulnerable and accept help in public. I genuinely need it sometimes. Does that make me a bad mom? I don’t think so. I am in survival mode right now! I am working to keep my kids happy, healthy, and alive.
I have never heard of this method of parenting but definitely an eye-opener. I also agreed that if it can prevent a child from getting into an even more dangerous situation then as a parent, you should intervene. Great post!
It is always so hard to know the right thing to do in a situation like that, I feel like you just have to use your best judgment!
Another really interesting read. I think vultures also come in to this and people frequently helicopter on France – or maybe it’s just that I receive a lot of comments because I’m a terrible mum – but they are it as “sharing wisdom”. How I see it depends on the mood I am in and I’m always grateful Kris hasn’t been the one receiving advice! It ranges from “your baby sounds hungry” to “babies shouldn’t wear headbands as it stops their heads growing” – needless to say those sweet accessories have been put to the side…. The most recent one was in reference to me placing a cloth about the thickness of a teabag over the pram for all of a minute as the parasol kept hitting people to which I was then told I should never do that. I did look in to this further as I didn’t really understand the explanation as I was taken aback – it seems with good cause as recent research suggests it is quite dangerous due to overheating. I didn’t know this.
I must admit I also almost told a girl not to touch things in a museum yesterday! Her parents weren’t around and she hoped he rope and was playing on the pool table! I figured a wee friendly “you better not do that in case you get in trouble”‘from me was better than a telling off from security but Kris said it really wasn’t my business and on reflection, he is right!