They say children need to fall so they can learn to pick themselves up.
The problem is behind every child who falls there’s a nervous mum who was wincing and yelling at them “be careful” seconds before it happened.
Helicopter parenting. It’s a term that’s regarded with negative connotations. It’s a label for parents who interfere and hover over their child way too much. Parents who have allowed their parenting paranoia to get out of control.
The mum who keeps a death grip on their child’s hand as they walk close to water.
The mum who stays within touching distance of their child at all times in the playground.
The mum who pays close attention to the age restrictions on toys and swiftly donates any that have small parts.
The mum who asks their nursery key worker how they slice up grapes.
But all parents worry, it comes with the territory. And so therefore we could all be accused of helicopter parenting at some point, I know I’m guilty of it.
It’s even harder to hold back once they reach toddler age and they have the physical ability to investigate everything that piques their curiosity.
And yet I know it’s not the best thing for my toddler to have me at her constant beck and call and always telling her to watch where she’s going or not to climb any higher.
My eldest daughter needs to learn independence and what her limits are. In order to do that, I know I need to back the f**k up.
I want her to grow into a strong adult, and I certainly don’t want her living with me for the rest of my life, as much as I do love her.
But it’s easier said than done. That mother’s instinct is always there in the back of your mind. It whispers about the very worst case scenario that could spring up from a go on the swings.
Back off mum
There are many times when I feel like I’m having to physically restrain myself from diving in to help or redirect my children.
Times I had to remind myself to back off:
When my increasingly boisterous toddler is showing her “love” for her little sister by attempting to climb on her.
When bigger children are racing past my toddler, who looks teeny by comparison, at soft play and she’s struggling to reach the slide.
When my toddler grabs the bottom rung of a seriously long ladder (actually only about four steps high).
When my toddler makes a beeline for the biggest slide in the park.
When my toddler walks anywhere near the kitchen when I’m cooking with various hot pans.
When my toddler decides to climb up or down the stairs all by herself.
When we’re out for a walk and my toddler runs slightly further ahead of us.
When I see a tiny uneven patch of pavement right in front of where my toddler is walking.
Maybe we need a softer term for it, such as paraglider parenting. We’re hovering, but in a quieter, less dramatic way.
I’m doing it because I’m learning and making s**t up as I go. There’s a lot to feel guilty about in this parenting lark and I refuse to feel guilty for caring too much.
Yes I need to let my toddler learn to pick herself up. But I also want to be there just in case she needs a helping hand.