Insanity of Motherhood

Motherhood, marriage, and midlife.

Watch Out for Your Head or a Propeller Will Hit You.

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“How to begin to educate a child.  First rule:  leave him alone.  Second rule:  leave him alone.  Third rule:  leave him alone.  That is the whole beginning.” – D.H. Lawrence

There is a new term in parenting.   It is called helicopter parents.  Never heard the term helicopter parents before? Here is the definition.

“They (parents) hover over their children and make a lot of noise rescuing when difficulty arrises.” – Psychology Today

Before I begin my rant about helicopter parents, I will admit something to you.  I used to be one.  Yes, I am a hypocrite.  I used to be one of those annoying parents who felt the needs of my child far surpassed the needs of anyone elses.  I was too involved, overprotective and downright difficult.  I am proud to say I am no longer this way…well, most of the time.

I consider myself to be a professional parent, whatever that means.  In my parenting career I have advocated for my children.  I can  growl loud if someone does not help me to meet my child’s needs.

Advocating for your child  is a very admirable trait for a parent to have.  The truth is, if you do not advocate for your child, no one else will.  But today’s helicopter parents might be taking advocacy a bit too far.

While researching for this blog, I had difficulty finding research that supported my idea that being over involved in parenting is a bad thing.  The reality is, being too involved is far better than being not involved.  Over and over, the research indicates a child will suffer the most academically, socially and emotionally if their parents are not involved.

So why am a writing this blog?  The reason is, because, overinvolved helicopter parents are invading my space.  It is one thing to look out for your child’s best interest.  It is another to decide that your way of parenting is the best way for other kids.  This idea is becoming more and more common, especially in schools.

In recent years, I have noticed more and more parents getting involved with school curriculum and policy. Overinvolved parents have made it a goal to change things they do not like about their child’s school.

Parental involvement is an important part of what makes a school great.  I, myself, have been very involved with my children’s education for years.  But when it comes to running a school and chosing curriculum, I like to leave it to professionals.  Although I do have experience in running a preschool, I do not have experience with elementary, middle school or highschool.

It used to be parents would volunteer at the school as a way to support the teachers.  They would read to the children, make copies or help on field trips.   But today, this type of involvement is becoming secondary to advocating changes in school policy.  Many parents, most of which do not have teaching experience, are giving suggestions for school improvements.

This would be fine, except some parents are not happy if the suggestions are not responded to.  They will not take no for an answer.  There is increasing pressure on behalf of schools to listen to overinvolved parents.  Many parents have a specific agenda and will not stop until policy has been changed.

The reason this is upsetting  is because of the effect it has on children and teachers. Parents are not with their child at school.  They are not supposed to be. At some point parents must trust other people to care and educate their child, without interference.  When the parent is overinvolved, it sends a clear message to the child and teacher, that they do not trust they can do their job.  It makes the work they must do much harder.

Children must learn to cope with the hardships of life.  Learning to cope with adversity is a needed skill to be successful as adults.  Sometimes other children will not like them.  Sometimes their teachers will be lousy.  And sometimes they will not get their way, no matter how much they complain.  This lesson is a good one for all of us.

Maybe it’s time for helicopter parents to shut down their engine and come in for a landing.

Author: insanityofmotherhood

Mom of three boys, wife, educator, and all around nice gal in the middle of a midlife something. It's not a crisis, but it's something…

6 thoughts on “Watch Out for Your Head or a Propeller Will Hit You.

  1. Call me an overprotective helicopter parent if you wish, but I think it is my duty as a parent to make noise about a curriculum if I think it is not well serving the needs of kids.

    I believe that was true of “Everyday Mathematics” when my sons first used it. I have not seen more recent reviews of the program so I can’t comment on in that respect on the current textbooks.

    “What Works Clearinghouse ( or WWC ) [13] reviewed the evidence in support of the Everyday Mathematics program. Of the 61 pieces of evidence submitted by the publisher, 57 did not meet the WWC minimum standards for scientific evidence, four met evidence standards with reservations, and one of those four showed a statistically significant positive effect.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everyday_Mathematics)

    There are many mathematicians that have spoken out about Everyday Mathematics and both California and Texas have rejected the curriculum.

  2. But where does it end? We recently had a mother call the human resource manager at our company to complain that her kid didn’t get the job. Her grown up kid.

  3. Okay…here I go. My children have informed me it is a late start…so I have a little time! Funny, the term helicopter parent was being used over 10 years ago when I was in the toddler program at the Children’s School. (my child was the toddler…)
    I always took it to mean that these were the parents that hovered over their children, everywhere. These were the parents that were terrified of letting their children “fall” physically and figuratively. This was the parent that could not see the possible benefit of allowing the fall to happen so that little Joey could learn how to get back up…and this is the same parent that will make constant excuses for their children’s and their behavior. I am a firm believer that it is indeed one’s ownership of mistakes and how one addresses their errors are what builds character. We ALL make mistakes. I am not sure why people are so afraid of acknowledging and owning this. However, it is this person who refuses to acknowledge their and their children’s weakness that I think is truly the problem…not only for teachers but friends and business associates. And yes, if I were a teacher and I saw one of “them” grim faced coming towards me, I would have a knot in my stomach, no doubt.
    In terms of parental involvement at schools, anyone who knows me, even in passing, will know one of my favorite lines is, ” Having passionate and involved parents is both a blessing and a curse..” Schools (well, the administrations) and parents that are able to form respectful partnerships will have the best of both worlds. Somewhere there needs to be a balance. Parents who are writing big checks or donating a lot of time should not feel that they have the right to dictate anything regarding the functioning of the school. By the same token, not all parents are stupid and so if the administration dismisses parents ideas and thoughts out of hand, then they are doing themselves a disservice. Balance, it is all about balance.
    The last thing I would like to address is the part about trusting teachers. Let’s put it this way…having been in both the HT/ Explorer System and regular neighborhood public school. Trust. Is. Earned. Admittedly, teachers at the HT/Explorer schools will have the benefit of the doubt with me because I know the philosophy of mutual respect permeates the very fabric of the schools… Some of the teachers I have met in these fine institutions have been life changing. I tell you truly beautifully smart, in tune, inspirational, challenging, I could go on and on…. However, I have also met some truly awful teachers, I mean awful…nasty, revengeful, demeaning, deceitful and apathetic educators…and some of these have met my kids… Do I spring into action with these teachers? You bet. Does that make me a helicopter mom? No, I don’t think so…it makes me a mom.

    This mom needs to get the kids to school….Thanks for dong this blog….!!

  4. I’m an ex helicopter parent or at least that is my goal. It has been difficult with my oldest son though. He is 12—and I understand that his problem is pretty typical–but he is extremely forgetful. Let’s see in one week he lost his Year 7 jumper, forgot to tell me that his debate was rescheduled (dad went to work early so he could go to it), forgot to give me school newsletters about upcoming events that I need to plan for, forgot to bring home some homework, etc. BUT I will not go through his backpack or go talk to his teacher. I know he’ll get organized….one day. Until then, I’ll refrain from hovering and instead I’ll become good at asking questions and dropping subtle hints, like “dude why are you wearing your school uniform when you have P.E.?”

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