Helicopter Mum – What is it?
So you have probably heard the term ‘Helicopter Mum’, but you might not know what it is or what it really means. in loose terms a Helicopter Mum can be described as someone that obsessively ‘hovers’ around their child, trying to protect them in every situation. Other terms like micro-managing, coddling, overly attached, over-protective are used too. When it boils down to it, the term refers to someone overly involved in their child’s life.
What’s the Alternative?
What is the alternative to a Helicopter Mum? They call it a ‘Free Range Parent’, someone who leaves their child to their own devices, to learn from their own mistakes, to explore their freedom and do most things themselves.
The Middle Ground
The above descriptions for both the Helicopter Mum and the Free Range Mum are at the extreme end of the scales. For most of us parents, we choose a middle ground between the two options. We take what we think are the good points out of both parenting styles and meld them into our family dynamic.
Let’s have a look at some of the good and bad points now. I must make mention here that these ‘good’ and ‘bad’ points are based solely on general information. Everyone has a completely different parenting style and we do what works for us and our family, there is no right or wrong way to parent a child if there is love involved.
Is ‘Helicoptering’ a Bad Thing?
By doing everything for your child they are not always able to learn skills on their own, this can spell trouble for later in life when they are expected to have certain skills. If a child never helps with the general tasks in daily life, then when they choose to live on their own they will not have the necessary life skills. They will not be able to cook or clean for themselves, they may not be able to handle their own finances, timekeeping, and responsibilities.
While growing up they may feel like they are missing out on certain rights of passage like walking to school, playing at a friend’s house, or walking to school. They may not get to learn independence and may have a high number of fears.
People say that Helicopter parenting is the unnecessary coddling of a child.
Is ‘Helicoptering’ a Good Thing?
Our maternal instincts are to protect what we love, and that is what helicoptering is all about. A Helicopter Mum loves her child so much that she cannot stand to be without them for any period of time, so becomes involved in all aspects of their life.
Because there is so much love there, a child will know that they always have the love and support of their Mum in all situations. They will also feel safe in all situations as their Mum is always there to protect them.
Partial Helicopter Mum
This is me. I am a partial Helicopter Mum.
I cannot bear the thought of my daughter being hurt if it’s something that I could have prevented. At the same time, I know in my mind that pain is a great teacher. A grazed knee will heal, as will a bruise. Within reason I let her play and run about with the full knowledge that she could fall down and hurt herself. She is of course not allowed to run near roads, driveways, cliff edges, swimming pools or anywhere else where she might get seriously hurt. Safety is key, after that, I have to let her learn things for herself.
Sometimes I itch to help her complete a task when she is struggling, but if I always do it for her then she might not learn to do it herself. I like to try and involve her in tasks that I am doing such as cooking, baking, hanging out the washing, scrubbing the pots, emptying the dishwasher.
After more than a few helicopter moments, I have had to take a step back and look at what I am doing. I want to guide her in how to learn and discover so that she has the tools to learn things on her own. This is not always an easy road for me I have to say!
I have learned what her limits are now and I encourage her to try and reach beyond them. She is a great explorer and loves to discover new things. I want her to be able to take full advantage of these new experiences, equipped with the skills that she needs rather than sending her off to find her own way hoping she might figure it out.
I am not fully opposed to some aspects of the Helicopter Mum, but I do believe that we need to let our children experience things for themselves so that they are able to grow up capable and independent.