Thursday, September 25, 2014

Helicopter Parenting

Ok, so we've all been guilty of hovering over our children at one time or another.  It is only natural, especially with the first one, to be concerned about the well being of your prodigy.  I remember having dreams, when I was enormously pregnant with J, of leaving my baby, still in her carrier, in stores that I normally frequented.  It is a horror that no parent ever wants to experience - losing your child.

An article that I read recently really made me think more on this subject of parenting styles.  (You can read it here.)  The article discusses a unique playground in Europe, and the importance of experimenting and play in children.  Basically, it states that since today's children are so heavily supervised by their parents, and have big portions of their lives scheduled for them, they are becoming "less emotionally expressive...less imaginative, less unconventional...less perceptive..."

It is true that I was raised much differently than how my children are raised.  I remember spending hours on my own exploring outside.  My mother commented recently (at J's soccer game) that they didn't have these kinds of organized sports when I was growing up.  I did take piano lessons after school though, as did my middle brother for a time...before he became interested in other instruments.

I think I tend to spend less time playing WITH my children than do many of my friends.  This is a fact that frequently makes me feel guilty, but it seems that my children ENJOY going off and exploring on their own outside...just like I used to do.  True, since we live on a mini-farm in the country, that is safer and easier for them to do than their peers who live in town.  This doesn't lessen their pleasure (or mine) when I do sit down to play with them. 

They do have a giant portion of their lives scheduled right now:  school for 7 hours, soccer practice during the week & games on the weekend, music lessons and practice during the week, etc.  These are things they CHOSE to do and ENJOY doing, and so (even though I might complain mightily at times) I try to make it possible for them to do.

Is that the difference then - that we want our kids to have it all, so we go to great lengths to give them the opportunity?  Didn't my parents want the best for me as well?  So, society has changed.  It seems that there are many more Sickos out there, which is scary.  But (knock on wood) the only major injury that my child has suffered has been a fractured pinky finger...and that happened at school!

My mantra has been:  "Not on MY watch!"  If hovering over my kids keeps them safe, then that is important.  I wonder though, if they would be fine regardless?  I can fervently say that my children are astoundingly expressive, imaginative, unconventional and perceptive.  They are relatively healthy (ok, L is home sick for the 2nd day with a fever and sore throat, but I blame that on Public School!)  They are growing up with a freedom similar to one that I grew up with, and for that I am extremely thankful.  The only thing that I would change, in the end, is maybe trusting them a bit more with the things that scare me:  knives, fire (ummm...maybe not, considering the bathroom fire earlier this week), firearms, staying home alone...with limits, of course.  When they complain that they "haven't had a chance to play ALL DAY!", send them outside.  I keep forgetting that they are not small adults, how silly of me!

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