Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Helicopter Parents Anonymous

My name is Sandra and I'm a recovering helicopter parent.  Honestly, I didn't even know I was doing it.  Not until I hit my third trimester of Zoe's pregnancy and I was too large and slow to effectively hover did I realize that I was a classic helicopter parent.  Once my ankles were so swollen and my back was so sore that I couldn't follow Leo for every step on the playground I discovered he could do all sorts of things I didn't know about.  I had spent so much time steadying his hips as he climbed and holding his hand as he went down the slide that it never occurred to me that he didn't need me to do those things.  The first time he got ahead of me and scurried up a ladder I nearly had a heart attack - but he was fine.  He was better than fine - he was having fun.  Soon he was climbing and running all over the playground while I sat on a bench and watched.  Of course I still help him when he needs it, but I try to wait until he asks for help before stepping in.

This has raised my blood pressure considerably, but it has also given him lots of opportunities to impress me.  And impressed I have been.  Did you know that he can sit on a regular (non-baby basket style with leg holes) swing just fine and even pump?  I sure as heck didn't.  Stepping back a bit has also allowed me to relax a little.  I can sit at the park, nurse Zoe, hold a conversation...  That's not to say I don't still have my heart in my throat as he tests his physical limits - but I'm trying to trust his judgement.  And so far it's been pretty good.

I recently took this video at the playground.  It was hard not to step in when he lost his footing - but not only did he not ask for help, he recovered on his own and didn't even look back as he continued on.

I'm still fighting the urge to micro manage his play most days - but it has been really neat to watch him blossom.  Not just on the playground, but at home, too.  His independent and imaginative play has grown by leaps and bounds as well.

The timing for me stepping back (even if it wasn't my idea so much as a necessity) couldn't have been better - it fostered his independence just as he was about to need it more than ever.  I suppose that is the silver lining of the discomfort of the third trimester.  With Zoe's arrival his new found autonomy came in handy since I wasn't as available.  And it helped me know he was going to be ok.


  1. I'm a big fan of watching while my daughter learns. She knows that I'll offer a helpful hand if she needs it, but is eager to get back up on her own most of the time. Having another baby is definitely a motivator for allowing this to happen.

  2. Maggie Lozier11/21/2012

    this is great! If we have any cross over time in PIttsburgh (we are gone from Thurs-Sat) we would love to meet up at a playground!

  3. OMG I need to check myself in. What's the first step? Um, I am powerless (or near-?) over the impulse to dive in and hover and overprotect. I whimpered several times while watching that video, and was so relieved when Leo made it to the top. I kind of think I have to keep re-viewing this thing 'til I get to the point of not whimpering. Ahem.