Thursday, October 25, 2012

Who's a Helicopter Parent?

We went on a fabulous 5 day trip to Charleston, where among the playing in the sand, dashing into the ocean, and savoring of the salty air, we realized that we are helicopter parents.

You know.  The kind of parent that hovers over their child constantly so as to do The Heroic Thing and keep said child out of harms way.

Question is: is that a good thing or a bad thing?  Or is it just a thing?

I suppose it's all about the situation.  When we were playing on the beach, one of us was next to G at all times.  G is 15 months old.  G also has no fear.  An ocean and a fearless toddler makes for impending doom unless carefully monitored, in my opinion.  The three of us went for a twilight walk along the beach with the tide waaaaaay out.  We started up by the grass and as soon as G realized that the roaring sound to our right was the ocean, she ran as fast as those little legs could carry her right to the water.  She would have preferred to go right INTO the water, except we were there to prevent it.  Situation: helicopter warranted.

Another situation is all of us in my brother's completely fenced in back yard.  It was a backyard picnic with several people milling about.  Not much for her to get into, and yet we were tagging each other in and out as if the ocean were right down the way.  Situation: helicoptering not so much needed.

When it was pointed out that maybe we should just freakin' chill out and let her play, we took that as an opportunity to be self-observant.  Are we being too much?  Too little?  Where is the line?

Different for everyone.  For us?  Yeah, I could learn to relax a little bit, especially when so many people have her eyes on her in an enclosed, safe environment. I do tend to relax when going over to a friend's house for a play date.  The kids are all corralled in a living room where I'm free to sip coffee and talk while G goes nuts.

At home, alone, I don't like to plop her down in the living room alone with the TV or some toys and walk out of the room all morning.  If we're watching TV, I want to be with her.  With just toys, she's shortly on my heels anyway. But sometimes, she's just playing and I'm just sitting there watching her, waiting for something to happen.  Not really a great way to live.  

So, yes, I do need to let go a little, for my own sanity, for her health too.  I'm working on walking away to do coffee and breakfast while she's in the living room.  
I imagine, as she gets older and capable of doing more things on her own, it'll get easier.  She can go outside and play, sit at a table and color and do crafts, do some make believe in her tent.  Right now, she's just not at that level.  

So until then, I shall hover a bit while exploring a bit of freedom on my own.  Sometimes I have to wonder: do I hover for her?  

Or me?