I definitely fall under the paranoid category. I don’t consider myself a ‘helicopter parent’ for the most part. But I would say I am paranoid. There’s a difference:
2. having or showing an unreasonable feeling that people are trying to harm you, do not like you, etc.
When I think of a helicopter parent, I think of the parents/caregivers at a playground who are right behind their child the entire time, maybe with a hand on them, making sure that they don’t get anywhere even close to falling. Now, don’t get me wrong, no one likes to see their kids fall and possibly hurt themselves, but they also need to learn their limits as well.
When we are at the playground, I am watching the boys, but I am not hovering. I pay attention to what they are doing, and try to warn them if it isn’t a good idea to do something, but I don’t completely stop them. When we were at the playground last week my oldest went down the slide face first on his belly. Of course, little brother has to try it too. I wasn’t sure how it would end up, but I didn’t stop him and turns out he can do that and thought it was hilarious and continued to go down the slide that way.
While I am not a helicopter parent, I would definitely say I am a bit paranoid (that second definition, not the first with showing acts of aggression). Picture that same park, but full of people, parents and kids all running around and playing. I would be much closer to my boys. I am paranoid and don’t trust others. It’s just how I am. If there are other people around that I don’t know, my boys don’t leave my sight. Ever. I keep them close.
I can’t think of anything that has happened to make me this way in particular, but just a general mistrust of the world in general. Unfortunately, there are way too many stories of children being abducted, hurt, etc. in the news and I am terrified of that. To the point that, yes, it has made me a little paranoid. I get very uncomfortable when we go places that are crowded.
We try very hard to let the boys have some independence. Sometimes I wonder if we almost push them too much and make them “grow up” sooner than we should. But they seem to be happy and thriving, so we are going to keep on with what we are doing. Tyler is 3.5 and knows how to brush his teeth on his own. I wouldn’t have thought he could, but he asked and we let him and he does a pretty good job. We let him brush his teeth by himself in the mornings, and in the evening he gets to do it then one of us does it again to make sure he brushes good. He also takes his own plate, utensils, and cup to the kitchen after meals. They both were out of a crib by about 18 months old.
I like my boys to be independent. I don’t like them depending on me. Maybe it’s because I was raised to be an independent person. From a young age, I remember my dad teaching me a lot of things that most little girls don’t learn. But my parents taught me how to take care of myself, and how to be my own person and not count on others for things. Sure, it’s nice to know I have Justin here for things (like killing the roaches because I would just burn the house down), but I also don’t need someone else.
My dad taught me a lot of practical things, such as how a breaker box works, how to check the oil in your car, how to tow and backup a trailer. I could have set up and take down our camper by myself growing up. I know how to put a boat in the water and take it out. My parents weren’t helicopter parents at all, and I feel like that has helped me a lot in life.
I am paranoid in the way that I don’t trust others. When we moved to Texas, I was pregnant with Ryan and flew here by myself with Tyler (Justin drove the car here). I was seated next to a very nice lady and her daughter who were very helpful in keeping Tyler entertained and made the flight easier. When I said I needed to go to the bathroom she offered to watch Tyler so I didn’t have to take him with me. I just said something along the lines of it being ok because it gave him a chance to get up and walk as well.
Yes, that bathroom is extremely tiny, but he went in with me. Why? Because I am paranoid. I’m sure he would have been fine with that lady, but I couldn’t leave him. We were halfway through the flight, where could they go with him? I don’t know, but I still couldn’t do it. What could happen? Still way too many things to make me comfortable. Paranoid? Yes.
We try to be more free-range parents with our children (the opposite of helicopter parenting), but only to an extent. There are many things that put me out of my comfort zone when it comes to the boys and trusting others, so I just don’t do it. I had a hard time leaving Tyler at school the first week or two because I didn’t know them.
But I did it. I know he is loving school and he is learning so much, so I had to set my paranoia aside. I hope that we are doing right for the boys. We parent similar to how my parents raised my sister and me, or at least what I remember, and I feel like I turned out just fine. I have nothing wrong with helicopter parents, its a style of parenting, it just isn’t for me and our family. What works for some may not work for others.
So what do you think? Are you a helicopter parent, a paranoid parent, a free-range parent, or somewhere in between?