I was made aware of the helicopter parent a couple of years ago, when an old friend mentioned it. Now I’ve got a toddler and I didn’t think I was too bad, I really didn’t.
The other day we were having tea and jokily did impressions of each other. The one of me went something like this – “H, don’t do that. H! Be careful! Watch what you’re doing H” and so on. Sometimes you need to take a step back to see yourself, but no; it was spot on and I recognised it straight away.
So I then thought too much about it as I always do; am I now a helicopter parent? Should I take a step back and let her learn how to not do things, when I know her so well I know she’ll bump herself trying to do it – where’s the line between being a helicopter parent and one that can pre-empt when their child is about to hurt herself by accident?
So, on Thursday night after work we were sat outside. I put the washing out and turned my back for a millisecond. H was stood on one of our outdoor chairs – “LOOK AT ME MUMMY!” she announced, obviously expecting me to laugh at her cheekiness. I asked her nicely to come down and told her she shouldn’t do that as she could hurt herself. She got down, and then next thing, as my back was turned I heard a loud clatter and a wailing toddler. The chair had collapsed in on itself and she’d fallen onto the patio (something which could have been a lot worse had she been stood up).
Fortunately it was just her knee she bumped and not her head, so we’re lucky – but still – it could have been a lot worse.
I think I’ll keep hovering over her until she turns three, but take a bit of a step back. She still needs to learn and actually the helicopter parent thing might only really apply once they can make sensible decisions of their own, rather than be a toddler. There’s a great sign at our local children’s centre which has a famous quote I can’t remember or find about only experiencing life by taking risks and understanding what happens when things go wrong. One day I’ll get there again and make a note, if anyone can think what it could be, please do say!