I had absolutely no idea what this meant until someone used the term at playgroup a few months ago and I asked. It’s popped up a few times since then and I can’t honestly say it’s ever been used in a positive way – it seems to be another term created as a criticism of someone’s parenting techniques (why do we do this? Simple blog fodder? Does it make some feel better about their lives?)
So for those that don’t know – a helicopter mum is one who hovers over her child all the time – supervising his or her every move.
I’m sure I probably sniggered at the time as I thought how this was sooo not me and I marvelled at my independent youngster having a grand old time with his mates and toys while I hung out over here having a cuppa and a chat. Smug old silly me.
As so often does with babies and toddlers things change a lot – especially when you think you’ve just got it all under control!
I can pinpoint the time I started hovering to round about the time my toddler started greeting his mates with a smash over the head with whatever he was holding. Or pushing them over if they got in his way or driving a truck into the smallest of them -just because. I was not helicoptering for the sake of my child but for the safety of everyone else’s. There are a few littlies that I love him hanging out with as they let him know he’s not being cool and they seem to work it out amongst themselves without (thus far!) any serious injuries. But for the most part I’m not comfortable letting him strut around like king muck.
And then just as the smaller kids are catching up to my little man and I can start breathing a little easier during playtime he moves the goalposts yet again and decides that whilst he will play nice in a group he is determined to do himself some real damage at every given opportunity. My brother in law put it quite well when he said that childrens’ confidence often exceeds their ability – this is my toddler times a hundredfold.
I recently tweeted how whilst I was searching for local infant and child first aid courses my hubby shouts at me for not watching the toddler as he has opened a bottle of the baby’s teething tablets he had climbed on the kitchen bench to retrieve. Today he grabbed the potato peeler I’d just finished using and immediately cut his thumb open. He will instinctively find the most dangerous item in the room and embrace it. It’s terrifying.
I have friends who can leave their toddler happily playing for ages without the fear that they are juggling knives or putting forks in the toaster. This is a real fear in our house. I honestly can’t leave him for a second unless I fancy a trip to accident and emergency.
So helicopter mums I salute you as I join your ranks and hang my head that I ever laughed at your loitering. We are not raising precious and inhibited little ones we are protecting them and those around them.
And I’d much rather be the helicopter than be calling the rescue one. Actual fear.