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!