Saturday, August 15, 2015

Damn Helicopter Label Trap

kei splash2

  I have hated the label "Helicopter Mom" ever since I first heard it.  It is another dis empowering term that pushes parents away from doing what they feel is right.
       There are times to give our children distance and time to be available and nearby to them.  This term, implies it is bad to be supportive and present with our kids, or bad to be an responsible community member keeping other children safe.

      That being said, I try not be "be" a dis empowering mom.  I try not to do for my kids what they can do for themselves.

      There are times; however, that they want me there, watching them, being a part of what they are doing; and when they want me there, I try to be there.

       I also try to not help them when I know they are asking me to do something because they are lazy or afraid.

      I do not do any of this perfectly.
     In the past, I have been more of a Helicopter.  I have struggled greatly with anxiety; especially with anything related to my kids and heights.  I am insanely afraid of heights.  The discomfort it gives me is almost unbearable.  I am guilty of hovering at play structures and bridges, but I have gotten better about this.  Especially now that they are older and more and more capable and coordinated.
     In any case, I am frustrated.

       It is labeled "bad" to be a helicopter, and I cannot help but try not to be "bad."  This in itself, I think is a trap, but it is hard to not be ensnared in it.

     How many of us are also struggling with this?  Trying to be a "good parent" when you are damned if you do, and damned if you don't.  Bad to neglect, bad to be too involved.  Oh, wait, it is good to neglect now, because it fosters independence.  Not to worry, it will be bad again, when the next label comes out.

      So, in my effort to be a "good" parent, I genuinely send my child to preschool; and I feel proud that I really am not too nervous about it.  I confidently drop her off knowing how strong she is, after all she can handle two much older siblings.  The third child is the toughest, etc.  I am proud I am genuine about feeling comfortable about it.  She should feel very confident too, because after all, I am not being nervous about it.  She must "feel my confidence in her," right?

      Then BAM, almost right away, the teacher starts giving me doubts.  She starts pushing for me to be more involved; to be worried, etc.  That my 3 year old is acting shy.  That I should be concerned that something is wrong with her because she is shy and not actively engaged.  "She should be this, she should be that.." She is too "overwhelmed" by the environment.  I think, "she is happy when I pick her up."  She always wants to go.  She must not be too distressed.  She talks about school happily. I am not worried. Until months of being told I should be worried about it.  It definitely got to me.

     I tried to hold onto my confidence, but all year long, I hear that I should be more of a helicopter.  I am told I should be there to see how she withdraws.  I should be there.  When I am there, she mostly does not withdraw.  I do see sensitivity and adjustment to a large group of kids.  I see her resistant when being asked to perform.  Things she does normally, she resists while being putting on the spot. Those are things she can work through in time.  "But no, she isn't learning it fast enough."  The teacher is more worried than I am.  My gut tells me she is okay, but needs to "learn" and it may take time.  She keeps telling me it is not okay to be an introvert or sensory overloaded.

     Well, she was three years old, then.  Good grief.

     And then, during swimming lessons just last week. She is dong great, on her own. She loves her teacher. She is happy; she is not being shy.  But, she is a handful.  She tests by moving away from the teacher in her euphoria over the water.  I trust the teacher to handle her and the class. I see the teacher is doing a good job.  I try not to step in.  I don't step in, but then another instructor asks me to sit close by.  It was not enough that I was trying to let her be independent before someone asks me not to let her be independent.  I spend the rest of the 2 week session nearby as asked, and intervening sometimes, by threatening my child she has to sit out of the pool if she doesn't stay with the teacher.

      I am sure I looked like a helicopter, but I tried not to be.  Probably no one wanted to even associate with me because I was being "that mom" sitting by the pool while the others were keeping their distance enjoying their sunbathing doing a better job of "not being a helicopter."  Instead, I decided it was important to support the teacher in getting my child to stay with her, but only when I was asked to.  I couldn't help feeling damned, though.  Not to mention socially unacceptable.

   It was most likely good I was there though, when another child pushed my child's head under the water  and held it there, when she wanted a toy.  Her mother was doing a much better job, not seeing what her child was doing.  She did a really good job of not even acknowledging what her child did, too.
       I am sure I looked like the bad helicopter mom, though.
Damn Label.
     There shouldn't be a hesitation to do what a parent instinctively feels is right..  If involvement is needed, then the parent should be involved.  If stepping back seems best, then the parent should be able to step back as well.  Both decisions without worry of being judged.

    I really really hate this term. It is shackling and part of the whole system of what is wrong with parenting trends.

      Pendulums swing back and forth so severely and frequently.  Attachment parenting is good.  Helicoptering is bad.  And so forth.

      Basically, I think I will assume that anything I do is going to label myself as a bad parent and just be done with it.  That's it. I don't care anymore.


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