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Helicopter Parenting or Due Diligence?

The other day I ventured over to our local park to let the little guy enjoy some fun in the sun with  some of his buddies. It seemed like everything was going well and then it happened….a little kid came running from one side of the park over to my little dude and  smacked him right on his little noggin. My jaw dropped to the ground and I was temporarily speechless.

 

Thoughts were racing. Did what I think I just saw really happen? Would a kid really do that?

And then I snapped out of my haze and reverted my attention to my little guy whose bottom lip was quivering and a silent tear out of his eye. Where was this kid’s mother? And just as this thought was running through my head, I was in mid “swoop” to pick my kiddo up….SMACK! It happened again, except this time I grabbed the kid’s hand before he was able to run away and calmly yet firmly said “we don’t hit people.” It was right in this instant that the mother appeared and glared at me as she took her child away. No apology, no embarrassment, nothing. With my heart racing out of my chest, there were a million and one things I wanted to say to this woman but inhibitions set in. I know toddlers and young kids test boundaries and don’t always know right from wrong but we as adults should. If that was my kid, I would put my little one in a timeout after he apologized, ask if the other kid was ok, and say I was so sorry to the mother.

For the longest time, I thought that this was the “right” way to ensure a more positive social outing until I came across an article about “helicopter moms.” What the heck was a helicopter mom?!?! Wikipedia states it best by describing it as “ parents who try to resolve their child’s problems and try to stop them from coming to harm by keeping them out of dangerous situations.” Was this me?

In my defense, my little guy is just a little over a year and a half. He cant defend himself. He was just playing nicely on the jungle gym. I know a lot of parents will say “kids will be kids,” and I totally agree but I certainly do not want to be a parent of a kid that turns out to be a bully  later in life because I subscribed to that theory when my little dude was a wee toddler. Veteran mommas out there…

What are your thoughts on this situation? Was I being a helicopter mom or a diligent parent? How would you have handled this scenario?

 

Meet the Author | Veena


Veena is a former Miss California as well as 4th runner-up to Miss America. Pre-baby, Veena worked in the non-profit field specializing in Special Events and Development/Fundraising as well as a Program Officer for a family foundation. Now as a mom of a 2 year old, she spends her time running after her little one as well as branding and marketing consultant. Veena and her husband and son enjoy hiking, camping and traveling. She resides in Walnut Creek, California with her husband Ryan, son Eddie and their 3 dogs.

8 Comments
  • August 22, 2012

    1 1/2 years of age is all about self play. The child being hit, needs protection, first. The hitter, needs rules (for being near-to your child, if not in general!) & his mom to take over.
    Sounds like mother like son –
    nothing to be done there

    This is how our little ones learn, with guidance and protection – as much as curiosity and experience. The term helicopter parent – is a cop out. Id much rather deal with a parent involved, than one who could care less. Your reaction fit the situation – perfectly (in my opinion).

  • jenny
    August 22, 2012

    don’t overthink it :) he’s still a baby. start to worry if you’re contemplating accompanying him to grad school orientation (i saw such a thing with my own two eyes)!!!

  • MC
    August 23, 2012

    It’a a hard question I struggle with. At 1.5 yrs kiddos still need parental help at the playground for safety and bc that age can freak older kids out. 2.5yr olds and up can have strange reactions to young toddlers. However, I let me almost 3 yr old explore on her own now and have for over a year once she had a pretty good mastery of the ladders. She’s been pushed, kicked off a swing, and smacked in the face with a wild seasaw. Mostly these happened with daycare kids at the park or highly apologetic parents. I often try to let the kids work it out unless it looks like she might be SERIOUSLY hurt, which is rare.

    If you let your kid fall or get hit without swooping in every time, I believe you are letting them figure out how to react on their own. I tend to mosey over if there are real tears or if she seems distressed over the kid stealing her stick or what not.

    There is this line between helicopter parents and free range that I am trying to find. I think also following your instincts is the best advice bc everyone parents differently and every kid is different. I want my kids to know I’m there for them when they need but I also want them to be self-reliant and resourceful on their own two feet. How that is accomplished? No clue. :o)

  • Veena Author
    August 23, 2012

    Thank you all for all of your wisdom and words of encouragement. I know, it is such a hard line between letting your kids grow up and fend for themselves emotionally and being there for them enough. Please do share your own stories :)

  • August 23, 2012

    I had the same thing happen at an indoor play place. My son was standing on top of this mushroom thingy smiling and waving to me and then some kid crawls up there and just pushes my son off. I was SHOCKED. My son just burst into tears, he didn’t understand what happened. One minute he’s smiling and the next he gets pushed.

    I was waiting and waiting for a parent to stand up and come over and talk to their child about how that was not okay! But nope – no parent in sight. I told the child “That wasn’t very nice and please keep your hands to yourself.”

    I was so angry, but kept my cool. It’s amazing how the protective instinct just comes out so quickly.

  • Eva
    August 23, 2012

    I do believe that you were in the right in this case with age of the children. I have witnessed almost the exact same thing and had the same reaction, the only difference is that my daughter is quite big for her age so there is an expectation from other parents for her to act older than she is.

    Recently, I have been letting my daughter work things out on her own and for the most part it works out. However, there are the times that it results in a screaming match or hitting on either child’s part. At that time, I always go to the child who got hit first and not acknowledge the actions of the hitter as to not reinforce the negative action.

    I would not define you as a “helicopter mom” for that one action.

  • Dani
    August 23, 2012

    I took Miss Miss to the kid’s exploratory museum yesterday and there was a little playhouse. A girl about 4 was in there already playing with various things. Little Miss wanted to play with some of the kitchen bowls and as soon as she went near them, the other girl rushed over and yanked them away. She looked so confused and tried for another toy, same story. The other mom was sitting nearby but totally ignoring it. So I stepped in and told the little girl we needed to share and that the baby gets to play with x, too. She tried to negotiate with me regarding what the baby could play with, so I just said no thank you, she was holding this one and you shouldn’t just take it from her. We share. I didn’t check the other mom’s reaction because it really didn’t concern me. My job is to protect my child and teach her that we’re polite and that other kids shouldn’t act a certain way. It’s part of setting her expectations of the world and modeling correct responses to other kids’ bad behavior so she won’t be the kid who hauls off and whacks a kid when they try to steal a toy. It also reinforces what I’ve taught her – we share. Soooo long story short – I think you’re 100% right to intervene and protect your child from another parent’s lack of intervention or parenting. That’s why kids have parents – to protect them from harm and to model ideal behavior. Developmentally, kids run through all sorts of behaviors that are not socially acceptable or ideal. It’s the adults’ job to extinct those behaviors so they don’t carry them on into later life (and we all know people like that). The kids that are left to figure things out on their own… well, I just hope they come across enough other parents who are willing to step in and explain how the world works.

  • August 27, 2012

    Totally not a helicopter parent. Your kid is little and can’t defend himself. At that age you have to teach them proper behavior. Helicopter parenting is referring to those who bubble wrap their kids and don’t let them out of their house for fear that everything not bubble-wrapped is dangerous.

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