Helicopter parenting

We are on day three of school, and I’m trying really hard to not be one of Those Moms. You know the ones… the one who, as my friend Plummy likes to say, are convinced of their child’s “speshul sheshulness”. These are the moms who think Junior needs life handed to him one tiny gold-plated (supervised) bite at a time.

Psychologists agree (Psychologists as a group, not as specific individuals. All the specific individual psychologists I know are each lovely and talented people) it is a question of boundaries. There is a fine line between advocation and plain over-bearing parenting. We’ve all heard the term helicopter parent, and we all say ohthatwouldneverbeme.

But sometimes it is.

And when you have a kid who’s a little different that line gets even blurrier.

You know what comes next. I am worried about Jett getting what he needs from the new school year. I’m worried about whether he is able to participate fully in his day. And I worry about his emotional needs being met. I have no reason yet to worry – except that I do. I see the hot spots, and right now they are ok. The newness of the year is glossing things over for him still. We are honeymooning so to speak with 2nd grade. But I know PE is still an issue. And the playground is already a problem.

And some of it, maybe most of it, is simply going to be something he has to work out for himself. Those Psychologists (again) tell me he is an individual and not an extension of me. His personality is his own. He has to be allowed to figure things out for himself, as he is able.

As he is able.

That’s where I get stuck. Trying to figure out where his able-ness lies. Where his 7 year-old development meets his Asperger’s. Where he needs to figure it out by himself, and when he needs a little extra.

I heard a story recently about a parent who visited a teacher. This parent was crying about her child’s grade and begging the teacher to change it. The problem? The teacher was a professor – of a GRADUATE STUDENT. It’s a slippery slope, my friends. One I don’t want to slide down. But I also don’t want Jett overlooked, or not get the services he needs, because I’m afraid of being too overprotective.

All this before the second cup of coffee. No wonder my head is spinning.


About morelikeaveragemom

I'm a stay home mom with 3 kids. I am simply figuring it out as I go.
This entry was posted in Autism / Asperger Syndrome, Kids, Mothering and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Helicopter parenting

  1. Jennifer Scariano says:

    You are such a great mom, and this is such a tricky issue! No doubt the parent in the graduate student story is absurd, but something about the whole “helicopter parent” thing gives me pause. I’m not sure why, but somehow it gives me the same feeling – okay I know this is weird but stay with me – the title “cougar” gives me. I can’t help but wondering if when people use the phrase “helicopter parent” they don’t really mean, “helicopter mother.” It somehow seems like a way to put down women who are asserting themselves about things that are natural and important to them.

    Also, I’m not exactly sure how these helicopter parents are doing it. Every school I have been at (which at this point is more than I care to think about) has had barriers at every turn to parent intrusion. From actual lines in the hallway that parents are not allowed to cross to teachers who refuse meet face to face with parents. I’m not sure I could hover even if I wanted to!

    Kids have got to fail sometimes, and screw up and hurt – no doubt about it. And they are not me – no doubt about that either. That being said, I suspect that if you looked back at the papers written by social scholars who are commenting on over-involved parents, there would be even more papers on the horrors of under-involved parents. You can’t win as a parent!

  2. Believe me, if an “issue” comes up, you’ll know about it. It won’t go unreported, either by the school, by Jett or both. I understand the worry — Is this the day I’ll have to deal with such-and-such, and what will I do if Plans A, B, and C aren’t a fit to the scenarios I’ve imagined in my head? — and I know from experience that 99% of what I make up doesn’t happen. AND I know from experience that 100% of what actually does happen I can deal with competently.
    My son was rebellious and I was a single parent. As he grew into a teenager, I could smell trouble brewing, and we had long talks (lots of eye-rolling on his part) about the dangerous path he was on.
    When he was 15, I got a call at work from the police. He was accused of being an accessory to a burglary. I left work (in another city) and drove to our hometown police station. Four other boys were accused of entering the house (a neighbor with binoculars had identified all of them). All of the other parents bailed their kids out. I told my son in front of the jailor that I didn’t have the money, wasn’t going to try to get the money, that he’d committed a crime and could spend a night in jail (the equivalent of bail) and I would pick him up in the morning.
    He learned his lesson and was never in trouble again. The other 4 boys? They were constantly in trouble for years following.
    I know the stories aren’t quite the same, but they point to the limitations of worry. So know where your boundaries are, how far you’re willing to go, what Jett’s capable of and what Jett can handle on his own. He IS capable. Your worrying about him won’t make him any more or less capable.


  3. Leslie says:

    To me, advocating for your child’s individual needs is nothing like following him around at school all day to video tape every “amazing” thing he does.

    There’s so much polarity in parenting now. I agree with Jennifer about the word “helicopter”. You wanting the best experience for him in school doesn’t mean you let him get away with things or that you are hovering.

    My brother was always in trouble in school. Teachers voiced concern and one even called him a jerk to my mother’s face. My parents disciplined him at home but stood up for him at school. And despite his gory poetry in English class, his failing Chemistry, his truancy–he now builds rockets for NASA.

    I say forget the labels, the “experts”, and trust your gut.

  4. Lauren says:

    I agree with the trusting your gut. Pray about your decisions, and the Holy Spirit will lead you. You’re level headed and have a good partner in Jon. Together you’ll figure out his able-ness and what that means for school.

    From a teacher’s point of view- I love parents that were involved in a healthy way. Parents who genuinely cared about their kids- loved them enough to be tough when necessary, and not just coddle them. Parents who respected the teacher and tried to help the teacher best serve their child. Sometimes this means providing information. Sometimes it means providing a tool for the classroom- such as the bean bag things we’ve discussed before. Sometimes this means providing time in the classroom by volunteering. And sometimes this means providing chocolate. (Homemade is best.) 🙂 I also always enjoyed parents who had a sense of humor about their child- such as the Mom who bought me the relaxing scent of bubble bath from Bath and Body Works at the end of the year b/c she knew I’d need to relax after her son! 🙂

    I have faith in you, J.

    Love ya.

  5. Christine says:

    Wow. Your post brings home what real parenting is. You are a good communicator, and you have a good sense of when you are being perceived accurately. As truths occur to you, you share them effectively with those who need to know. Try not to bother yourself with everybody else and what they think. Just think, “me(&J – who’s got my back), Jett and his teacher.” Time and truth and love are on your side.

    Some of us put too much pressure on ourselves in the daily stuggle to balance what we can and can’t do. I think, the most common illusion is that we are in control. Just breathe, see, listen and share. You are beautiful!

    Also, there are many bad examples out there, but don’t compare yourself to them! We see the best in our kids and we hope they will see the best in themselves. We hope they will compare themselves to people they admire rather than those they dismiss or disdain. As a parent, I can set the example by seeing the best in myself and comparing myself (my actions) to those I admire.

    Some days are better than others. For example, days with enough sleep are consistently better! Still, no matter how perfect the circumstances, everything and everyone are far from perfect. We just do the best we can with what we’ve got.

    Thank you for sharing your struggles. Me, too. Deep breath…

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