Why helicopter parenting is absolutely necessary in our world…

We live in a world where everyone is quick to judge and everyone has an opinion and is keen to express it. This is especially true when thinking about parenting. Breast feeding, bottle feeding, stay at home parent, working parent, 1 kid / 10 kids, single parent, same sex parents. You name it people judge you for it. 

I’ve read a couple of blogs recently where so called helicopter parenting comes under fire. Dr. Dunnewold PhD says, when referring to this style of parenting with toddlers…

“a helicopter parent might constantly shadow the child, always playing with and directing his behavior, allowing him zero alone time”  

I’m here to defend why we have to helicopter parent our child. You simply can not judge this style of parenting for every kid. The Monster is autistic. He needs to be hovered over.

We will be the ones hovering over our child at the park, chasing his every move and being in his shadows. 

Why? The Monster gets so excited when he sees people on swings that he thinks nothing of running in their path, he could be knocked over by them causing significant injury. He picks things up off the floor he shouldn’t and wouldn’t think twice about putting discarded food / drink in his mouth, or anything else could also get put in his mouth due to his sensory needs.  He runs everywhere in an uncoordinated manner and frequently needs peeling from the floor and dusting down after a fall. His attempt to make friends often involves pushing other children, understandably this doesn’t go down well with said children or their parents. He doesn’t understand park etiquette; queuing for the slide? Why do that when he can push himself to the front knocking down whoever is in his way. 

To make the park an enjoyable visit for everyone, we will follow him, play games with him and teach turn taking. We encourage his independance and follow his lead but we will be in his shadows and guide him when necessary.

We will be the ones not letting him walk down the road (path strictly speaking) without either a tight grip of his hand and / or reigns on.

Why? The Monster has absolutely no sense of danger. He also has very selective hearing and will most often not respond to being told to stop, wait or walk. He would think nothing of running into a busy road into oncoming traffic.He will not just walk alongside us, instead he runs, opens and closes neighbours gates, attempts to touch all parked cars and if he sees our car the other side of the road he would run over to it regardless of what’s in his path. 

It would be nice to be able to take a leisurely walk where he could run to the next lamppost and wait, or run a stick along a metal fence, or take his scooter / bike to the shop but he simply can’t be trusted to do any of these things without us being in physical contact with him. I would consider one of those retractable dog leads if I could get away with it 😁.   

We will be the ones not able to relax even in the confines of your house.

Why? There is a running joke amongst family and friends that there is baby-proofing and then there is Monster-proofing. I am so on edge when at peoples houses that I rarely get to have a focussed conversation. He will play with your phones, pull over your ornaments, turn over your TV, destroy your CD / DVD collection and your DVD player when putting several in at a time, he will drink or knock over any cups / glasses, he will put anything that fits into his mouth.  He can’t do gentle, so even his attempt to look – with his hands in typical kid fashion! he is likely to damage / break your belongings (RIP TV number one). He will turn on your cooker, slam your doors, go in your wardrobe, grab your hoover and flail around the house pretending to clean without a care for what he breaks in the process (RIP TV number two),  he will love playing with your housephones, especially when they make a noise. He will yank at your blinds and wrap himself in your Laura Ashley curtains. He will run your taps, bang his hands on your windows, climb on or even in your furniture and go around turning your plug sockets on and off. And that important mail on the side? Yeah that’s probably been shoved back through the letterbox all screwed up and ripped. Those toys you got out for him to play with? They’re still neatly where you left them when we leave, natch.  Nothing is safe. I have to do a risk assessment in every house we enter, often moving your belongings out of reach. 

Of course, these are extremes and in familiar environments we can relax a bit. They are real life examples but don’t worry, they didn’t all happen in one day! 

Helicopter parenting still a bad idea? I didn’t think so. Hopefully we can relax this style of parenting as The Monster gets older. We want him to be independent, we want him to grow, to flourish to experience his world without us in his shadows but right now he needs us to guide, teach and protect him. So for now… 

We’re the pilot and he’s the co-pilot!

Is it OK to hate my child’s autism? 

I love The Monster more than I will ever be able to describe. To Infinity and Beyond. To The Moon and Back. I would lay down my life for him. You get the picture. But that doesn’t mean I always like what his autism does to him. Ouch I feel guilty even writing that. 

It’s taken a long time to admit to myself that there are things that I plain and simply don’t like.  What autism does to him. Of course autism isn’t all bad and I wouldn’t change him for the world. If he could have a magic pill to make it all go away I don’t think I would give it him. 

There are only two things that I really don’t like. Only two, that’s not bad considering it has a bearing on his whole being. 

  1. Speech. I hate that it has ripped away the ability for him to talk. I don’t know if this is forever but I am a realist and I know that he perhaps won’t ever talk, at least not like a ‘normal’ person. I hate that I might never hear him say “mummy”, he might never be able to tell me he loves me. Telling us he is hurt, sad, happy etc can be done through other means, i.e. body language, signing etc but telling us why is more difficult. I might never get to hear if he has an accent (although to be honest, who wants a brummie accent 😜). I hate that we might never be able to talk over the phone. I even feel sad that his friends and peers can call me by my name yet he can’t. 
  2. Inability to follow instructions / listen! The Monster does what he wants, when he wants contrary to what we tell him. We are forever giving him instructions, more often than not for his own safety. We yell “slow down” a lot. He runs everywhere. we gasp at all the near misses he has because he is going to fast and not looking where he is going. How we haven’t ended up in A&E yet I don’t know*. I feel like I am constantly giving out a negative vibe since “Don’t do that” and “No” are probably the most widely spoken words in our existence! He doesn’t learn from experience so we have to repeatedly give out the same instructions. For example: “Don’t touch the TV” – he’s already broken two and do you think we can stop him messing with it? Not a chance. The most stressful thing in the world is visiting people and new places since instructions to not run wild around peoples houses, to sit and chill and / or play with toys falls on deaf ears. 

    And you thought sleep was going to be up there with the things I hate didn’t you!? 

    Would you admit to things you don’t like about your child? Does it make me a bad person for not liking these things? I don’t think so, I feel guilt of course but autism isn’t all bad. Challenging yes. Happy, unpredictable, fun, quirky and fascinating. Most definitely. 

    *in hindsight I should’ve taken him to A&E when he found the only bit of metal in a soft play. He fell and hit his head good and proper. Even now, about 2 years on you can feel the lumps on his forehead and if he bangs his head (quite often) it’s a cert it will be in the same place!