Sunday, March 13, 2011

The 'Helicopter Parent' Backlash

I have been away for awhile - away from blogging, that is - school has taken over my brain and the precious time I have when Eliza is asleep (and I am not), so I haven't been able to give much thought to blogging, except for a photo here or there.  I've missed it, though, and I hope to get back to it soon.  I'm on spring break now, and we are getting ready for a trip out to the west coast to visit a dear friend and her husband and to soak up some much-needed relaxing vacation vibes (and sun, too, if there is any out there waiting for us!).

But first I just have to share this.  I know I'm a little late to this newsflash, and many people have probably read about this already.  It's the trend in parenting towards a slower, simpler family life at home and a paradigm that in general, involves less crazy worry and fear (about everything) and more reasonable, rational parenting - the backlash to the "Helicopter Parent" as they have been coined -- those parents who are constantly buzzing around their child in every area of their life, both physically and metaphorically.

I read this article (published Nov 20, 2009 - I guess I really AM late in reading it!  Though, I was a bit busy that week...!), and came across this website of mommy bloggers who are standing up and declaring that they won't put up with all the fear-mongering that surrounds parenting these days.  They advocate for and try to live a slower, more reasonable lifestyle - one in which kids aren't always entertained 24/7, and one in which we teach our kids that it's okay to make mistakes -- basically, a lifestyle that allows a kid to be a kid and explore his or her world independently without so much fear and worry on the part of us - the parents :).

The author of the article I linked to, which was published in Time Magazine, also talks about being reasonable about risk and asserts that we have lost the ability to reasonably asses risk, to the point that we are worrying about all the wrong things - things that are, statistically speaking, really unlikely to actually happen:

"Refusing to vaccinate your children, as millions now threaten to do in the case of the swine flu, is statistically reckless; on the other hand, there are no reports of a child ever being poisoned by a stranger handing out tainted Halloween candy, and the odds of being kidnapped and killed by a stranger are about 1 in 1.5 million."

And about the fear of boredom:

""[Children] not to be entertained or distracted. What boredom does is take away the noise ... and leave them with space to think deeply, invent their own game, create their own distraction. It's a useful trampoline for children to learn how to get by.""

I also thought the following quote was interesting -- they talk about how this "overparenting" can go right up to the college years (and probably beyond for some), and how schools are responding, trying to get parents to back down:

"Teresa Meyer, a former PTA president at Hickman High in Columbia, Mo., has just sent the youngest of her three daughters to college. "They made it very clear: You are not invited to the registration part where they're requesting classes. That's their job." She's come to appreciate the please-back-off vibe she's encountered. "I hope that we're getting away from the helicopter parenting," Meyer says. "Our philosophy is 'Give 'em the morals, give 'em the right start, but you've got to let them go.' They deserve to live their own lives.""

I was really struck by this article and the movement toward more reasonable parenting, and it made me recognize some of the "overparenting" I fall into doing with Eliza - I think in general I already ascribed to this mindset in many ways, but there are definitely moments when I can easily get caught up in worry and a desire to, perhaps, "over"protect her and make sure everything is perfect.  Of course, there is a place for worry and careful protection of our children, but I think the message of this movement is that it is a fine line we walk, and parents can swing - and in fact, have swung - too far to the point that some are losing all sense of reason when it comes to parenting.

Anyway, the article says it more eloquently that I can, so I'd suggest giving it a read!  

I hope everyone has a great week!


Alyssa said...

It's interesting to see how parenting evolves through the generations. It's always seems that one generation is trying to make up for what the previous one lacked. I do think the helicopter parents swung way too far one way, so it's nice to see parenting style swing back a bit!

Abby said...

This is so interesting; thanks for posting the links, Ella! With my tendency to over-process everything =) I'm always second-guessing myself...trying to find the right balance between making sure Augie and Vi have all of the adult love and attention that they need, but also the freedom to explore on their own without someone breathing down their necks...I'm trying to learn to not feel guilty if I'm reading a book in my chair while they're quietly playing with legos. It gets a little easier the older they get. =)

Jessie said...

I really like this! It must be so hard - parenting is such a delicate balance, and you're always barraged with ways to entertain your kids and messages that you're not doing enough! And it seems like adults are scared to be bored themselves these days...(ahem, iPad)! Very interesting stuff!

Eliza's Stats

Birth: 8 lbs 5 ozs
Going home: 7 lbs 10 ozs
5 days: 7 lbs 13 ozs
2 months: 12 lbs 6 ozs
4 months: 17 lbs
5 months: 18 lbs 12 ozs
6 months: 20 lbs 13 ozs
9 months: 24 lbs 3 ozs
12 months: 26 lbs 13 ozs
15 months: 28 lbs
18 months: 29 lbs 3 ozs
2 years: 32 lbs
3 years: 34 lbs

Alice's Stats

Birth: 8 lbs 11 oz
2 Months: 13 lbs 10 oz
4 Months: 17 lbs 15 oz
6 Months: 20 lbs 4 oz