Sorry, no pictures today - just me ranting. The kids and I just got back from the Customs House museum in Clarksville where I witnessed the most horrific example of helicopter parenting that I have ever seen. Granted, the museum seems to be a place where these people congregate but this woman blew everyone out of the water.
area in the museum is a medium sized room in the basement of the
building - it's really isolated from the rest of the exhibits and
there's only one area where people can enter/exit from. My point is
that it's really safe for kids to run around and if you sit by the door
then no one can escape unnoticed. The activity centers are geared
mostly towards kids 6 and under so Aidan is always a little bored but he
goes along with it since I don't bug him and he has free reign to be
the big kid with all the little ones around. We have been there enough
times that my kids know the drill - they can play however they like as
long as they aren't disturbing other people and if they fight or
complain then we go home. There's no use being there if they're not
So I'm sitting so I can see the kids and the exit.
The girls are playing together nicely - they've dragged play food out
into the center of the room and are having a picnic and Aidan is playing
with the golf ball physics experiments. They are all entertaining
themselves and I am relaxing - good deal for all as far as I'm
A woman and her two sons enter. The kids seem a
little old for the play area - probably 8 and 10 or so but whatever. It
takes me a little while to realize what is going on because, frankly,
I'm enjoying that my kids aren't acting up and I can veg out for a
little while. As this other mom walks by me she shoots me a dirty look
but I dismiss it - the preggo belly with 3 kids gets odd reactions from
people. I've been asked if I know how this keeps happening, advised to
get a TV in the bedroom or asked when my husband is going to get fixed.
You never know what's going on in people's brains. I believe that I
misjudged her. In hindsight, the dirty look was probably because I was
sitting down watching my children enjoy themselves instead of directing
every aspect of their play.
She says to her boys as she leads
them into the grocery shopping area, "OK now, each of you get a shopping
cart and we are all going to chose a whole grain product, a vegetable
and if you do that you can chose a dessert." Mind you - this is PLAY
FOOD - no one is going to be eating anything! I roll my eyes to myself
but then she starts to INSPECT the (play) food that they have chosen off
of the shelves - is she really serious??
I lose track of them
for a few minutes as I enjoy some of the tasty treats that the girls
have brought me from their "picnic" but then there they are again, right
next to me. Mom has found a big sheet of metal screwed to the wall for
playing with magnetic letters, dinosaurs and gears. She instructs the
boys to tell her what their goal for this board would be. They both
mumble an answer that I can't hear and go about setting up the gears in a
configuraation to get them to all turn at once. She tells the older
boy to go on the other side of her and let the younger one work it out
on his own. He turns to her and says, "NO, I want to HELP him set them
up!" She is NOT pleased that there is dissent in the ranks. After this
tiff blows over, she tells her sons where to place each gear and says,
"This is really pleasing." What that means, I'm not sure - nor have I
ever heard anyone use that phrase in my entire life. She continues to
control every single aspect of this "play" session. The younger boy
decides he wants to move on to something else and she nastily says to
him, "You have to learn to have FUN, not race from thing to thing!"
Fun? Has she lost her mind? She has taken the fun out of everything!
understand that we all want the best for our children and we all want
to prevent them from feeling sad or getting hurt - emotionally and
physically. She is a prime example of a parent who clears a path for
their children without understanding that they are, perhaps, achieving
the exact OPPOSITE of what they intend to do. Instead of developing
confident, capable, resilient children who are able to feel good about
the decisions that they make, my guess would be that these children feel
extreme stress when placed in a situation where they have to make an
unaided decision. I believe that these children and those like them
also have low levels of confidence and think that they are incompetent.
Normally I ignore the helicopter parents and the evil
eyes they send me for letting my children run around unassisted. I
didn't say anything to this woman today - because, really what
difference would it make to her? I did pay a lot of attention to what
she was doing and saying - I even pulled a pen and paper out of my purse
to take notes because I was in shock and didn't want to forget the way
she spoke or the exact words she used.
get me wrong, I'm not saying that I have it all figured out or that my
children are perfect angels. They are, in fact, quite the opposite.
They make many mistakes daily in the way that they act and decisions
that they make but guess what? They aren't life and death decisions.
No one is making the decision whether or not to get in a car with
someone who has been drinking or the choice to stand up for a kid who
is being picked on. Every time someone chooses an option that leads to a
less than positive outcome they have a chance to fix it and realize WHY
this happened. How on earth can we expect anyone to make the difficult
but correct decision when it really counts if they've never had the
opportunity to practice? So instead of being a helicopter parent and
hovering around providing aerial support whenever something goes wrong,
let's be resilient parents. Let's let our kids know that we will be there
for them when they need us but that we believe they are strong, smart,
empathetic individuals who we trust to make good decisions or fix it
when they make a mistake. No one is perfect - not even parents - but we
can fix our mistakes, clean up our messes and learn to make better
decisions in the future. The sooner they learn this the better.