helicopter, over protective parenting or somewhere in between parenting…….

having kids is tough. no matter how old they are. my kids are 17 and 21. they are both graduating this year. one is going out into the real world and the other is going away to college. how on earth am i going to be able to protect them from…ummmm, EVERYTHING? after watching what happened at the ohio state university today, i realized i don’t want my children leaving the house. my daughter is a penn state senior and just left to go back there after break. the ohio state university is actually my sons first choice of colleges. he has been a buckeye since he was 5. his room is scarlet and grey. todays event was like a double whammy to my gut.  zach is going to go to a community college near home and sam only has 1 semester left and then she is back home and never leaving again!!!! thats it!! thats the answer! that is how i feel but that is not the reality of whats going to happen.

hel·i·cop·ter par·ent
nouninformal
plural noun: helicopter parents
a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children.
“some college officials see all this as the behavior of an overindulged generation, raised by helicopter parents and lacking in resilience”

The definition of overprotective parenting
Though there is no formal definition for overprotective parenting, it generally shares the following key traits:

A) Overprotection aims to address or alleviate a parent’s anxieties rather than those that come from the child.

B) It places restrictions based on what might happen rather than what is reasonable to expect. It’s driven by a fear of experiencing hurtful things.

C) It attempts to shield a child from any and all unpleasant experiences or hardships.

D) Overprotective parents view negative experiences as an evil rather than a character builder that could make a child stronger.

E) Overprotective parents harbor the view that children are fragile flowers who might shatter into a million pieces should something bad happen.

when is a parent being “over protective” vs “helicopter parenting?  i don’t consider myself either one of these things.  i consider myself somewhere in the middle. when my kids started driving all i wanted to do was follow them wherever they went. when i left my daughter in her dorm room that first day, i wanted to call her as soon as we got into the car to see if she was ok. but i did not do any of those things, and it was so hard for me not to. i let them be. i give them what they consider to be “unsolicited” advice.

when they are little and just starting to walk, we had to let them fall. how else were they going to learn to get up on their own? isn’t that what we have to do as they get older? i guess i come from a different perspective. when you have a child that is disabled in any way, all you want to do is keep them home in a bubble. keep them away from stares, and mimicking and being made fun of. the truth of the matter is that….. WE CANT.  nor should we.  sometimes zach would yell at me that I’m being mean and unsympathetic to the way he felt. the truth is that i was dying inside but sugar coating things isn’t going to help him in the future. he is going to have to deal with a lot of different things that other people don’t deal with because of his disability. he needs to know the truth. i want my children to know there are people out there that are going to say bad things to them, they are going to stare at them for whatever reason, they aren’t going to get the job or school they want. that is life!!  how my children react to that is my job as a parent.

so whether you are a “helicopter parent”, “overprotective parent” or “somewhere in the middle parent”, here is my unsolicited advice….. do what you think is best but know that your children mimic your behavior. i have experienced it first hand with my own children. i have seen the stares, and heard the laughter meant for my son. if i have seen and heard them, I’m sure zach has too. he has watched how i have reacted in those situations.  i try to lead by example. i am not going to lie. it has been very difficult not to stoop down to their level. but i honestly believe that in the long run it is better for your child. they will grow up to be strong, kind and empathic adults…..at least i hope so.