I just came across this hilarious post at Motherlode (parenting blog sponsored by The NY Times) about moms who can’t help but be helicopter parents over their children at the park. It’s a reality check to all those helicopter moms we see at the park. This sums it up:
Oh, I know you mean well. You’re trying to be a good mom. In fact, you are a good mom. That’s the problem. Your enthusiasm is killing my buzz. See, I’m a mother, too, at the very same park with my 4-year-old, but I’m here to stop mothering. The playground has a gate, and the asphalt is covered with rubber mats. If I can’t turn on my iPhone and tune out here, I don’t want to live.
Here’s another gem:
Wait, where are you going? Back to your daughter so soon! Oh dear. Is that a BPA-free plastic shovel in your hand? You know, my mom used to say, “One man’s litter is my child’s toy.” Just before you arrived, I passed this wisdom on to my son when I gave him a Starbucks cup I saw wedged under the slide. The trash can’s loss was our gain.
I agree. It’s not that I completely ignore my kids when we’re at the park, but if I happen to pull out my iPhone, I’m not going to feel guilty. If I opt to sit on a bench for a nice chat with a friend, I’ll do that. I may even pull out a book. If they’re enjoying themselves (which they always are at the park), why can’t I?
When my kids were younger, I was more attentive at the park. This was especially true with my eldest who was a complete daredevil at the park. At age two, he was scaling ladders that other five-year-olds were hesitant to attempt. So I would spot them, help them up on swings, push them on swings, and offer any other help they requested.
I suppose that gets to the crux of helicopter parenting. If they need help, help them. If not, give them the freedom to explore and find their own way. Don’t teach your child that he can treat you as his servant. Don’t offer him juice that he doesn’t request. Don’t chase after him shoving food in his mouth. Don’t act as if he’s incapable of finding his own fun.
At the same time, treat yourself to a little time off. Of course, keep an eye on your little ones at the park, but don’t feel like you have to teach him how to use the slide, join in other kids’ games, etc. If he’s having fun, leave him alone and find some fun of your own!