I'm Not a Helicopter Parent
By Lana Hirschowitz - 29th June 2010
I’m not a helicopter mother. No way. I don’t trust those helicopter mothers that hover around their children getting involved in everything that they do, pretending they’re not looking and then suddenly swooping in and fussing about something or other. It really irritates me. There are precious moments that their children could get into trouble and they are not there at all.
I’m more of an A380 mother. I don’t hover. I am just there all the time. And I don’t pretend I am not. Everyone knows I am there, especially my child. And that’s the way I like it. And most importantly – he likes it too. He finds me dependable, he can trust that I am there complete with galley to provide him meals, and comfortable stretch out chairs to relax and unwind. He knows that he can talk to me through the nifty little intercom system about any turbulence he is encountering and he knows that the inflight entertainment system will always have something to stimulate an entertain him.
I know that this may be frowned upon in some parenting circles – aviation is not considered the strong suit in raising independent children but I see it differently from my cockpit. Children are children for such a short time, we spend a lot more time being adults and having to shoulder all the responsibility of the world. Surely there is some time in our lives that we can be free of care.
I have never understood the fascination with trying to make my child independent when he is clearly nowhere close to being there – and nor should he be at 9 years old. He is confident, he is secure, he has had a plethora of amazing experiences to build on as he grows up but he is not an adult and he is not ready to fly the coop (not without his A380 anyway).
I wonder at the wisdom of ensuring that my child can go to the park alone. Just because he is with me doesn’t mean he’s not able to push himself on the swing or climb the tree on his own. It just means that he likes me, he likes his friends, he even likes his friend’s mothers. Why shouldn’t we all go to the park? I can say with absolute confidence that while he may be able to push himself a lot further on the swings when he’s 19, he wont expect (or even let) me come to the park with him.
He can make his own food but I would never expect him to forage for food or to prepare a meal without me. I don’t necessarily want to cook for the family – why should he? He will have to cook when he lives on his own or when he gets the urge to “treat” the family and I have no doubt that even if he doesn’t cook as a child, he will be smart enough to learn when he’s an adult.
I don’t want him to play in places that I deem to be unsafe. I really don’t want him to get hurt and I fail to see the big lessons that he will learn from getting into dangerous situations. I do however see the benefit he will have from having someone care for him, nurture him and direct him with kindness and love.
I want my child to know that he is important, that he means the world to me and that I really care about what he does. But most importantly I want him to know the joy of being a child before he knows the responsibility of being a man.
I have flown pretty close to him for the past 9 years and he’s confident, he’s happy, he’s responsible and he’s empathetic. I am as proud of my flying as I am of him.