I first heard this term AFTER I had kids and I thought it was so offensive. But it very accurately describes how things have been for me since moving. Oh no, I’m not the helicopter. Far from it.
My parenting style is a philosophy I have coined “active neglect.” I am choosing to be as uninvolved as safety permits. This means if the kids refuse to put shoes on before going outside, I don’t chase them with the shoes in my hand or refuse to let them play shoeless. They just go without shoes, then when they step on something that hurts them or complain because they have dirty feet I remind them “hey, shoes could’ve prevented that.”
When we go to playgrounds, I keep them within eye sight but don’t do alot of “helping” them play. This is because the whole point, in my opinion, of going to a playground instead of playing at home is so the kids can play with other kids and I can take a break from playing cruise director. If I am the one playing with them at the park, what’s the point?
Sure, I’ll help one of them climb up something, push them on the swings, or figure out how to use something. But I won’t go down the slide with them or “catch” them at the bottom if they are old enough to get up to the top of the slide unassisted in the first place. I also don’t use a high-pitched “isn’t this SO MUCH FUN” voice because my kids think it sounds as stupid as I do.
Today at the playground the other parents were helicoptering like it was a war. One little girl, about 4, had 2 parents following her at arms-length throughout the little toddler playground. Predictably, this kid did not want to play with mine because she had 2 grown-up playmates instead, who would not get in front of her on the slide but would instead ooh and ahh at every little thing she even thought about attempting.
Another couple had a little boy who was maybe not quite 2, and he ambled around the fenced area with that toddler confidence that makes one greatful for fenced areas. The 2 adults with this little guy, though, were not content with the fencing and instead insisted upon gripping his hand the entire time they were there. They also climbed on the toddler playset with him, repeatedly lifted him up over the wide, rubberized stairs instead of letting him climb them himself, and had an adult stationed at the top and bottom of the slide. One of them even kept raising her arms in fear at MY kid, while she climbed around the structure like a monkey, because “ooh, I don’t want her to fall.” News flash folks: it’s a TODDLER playground, and they all fall at some point.
It really was an appalling waste of resources.
I do not mean to judge. Honestly, I don’t. Because I know that none of us have the answers and we all want to do this parenting thing well.
I just think when it comes to parenting, trying too hard can be as bad as not trying at all.