Friday, October 12, 2012

Helicopter Parenting Advising

Before I had kids, I was the opposite of interested in early-childhood/developmental psychology. Now that I'm a mom, I can't get enough of it. Except sometimes, I can. I mean, I love learning, don't get me wrong. But just reading someone's opinions or philosophies on parenting isn't necessarily learning (any more than reading US Weekly is learning). That sort of stuff (some of my blog's content included) is more like early-childhood gossip or politics. Or worse, early childhood helicopter advising.

I've said it before, I hate the phrase "helicopter parent." Basically it is a super vague ad hominem. I'm all about letting kids figure stuff out on their own, but I just tend to roll my eyes and lose interest in whatever I'm reading when I see that phrase.

And yet. I'm going to lob that phrase right back. At the child development experts. Because of stuff like this
via Janet Lansbury
This is just full to bursting with irony. Let your kids figure stuff out on their own! And let us tell you EXACTLY how. (Like the way I feel sometimes about Free Range Kid stuff is telling me exactly how I should let my kid do their own thing; or attachment parenting telling me exactly how I should trust my instincts and bond with my child.) Let us get so into the minutiae of parenting that you have to look to us for even the most inconsequential decisions on how to interact with your child (because nothing is inconsequential!). I mean, isn't that what cults do? Claim to have the answers to every little thing so that you have to rely on them for every decision?

Maybe this phenomenon of helicopter parenting came about because parenting experts have led us to believe that every single teeny, tiny, itty, bitty thing we do has HUGE consequences.

And it isn't even like I'm defensive because holding my kid while she walked was near and dear to my heart. I don't even remember if I did it (both my girls were pretty early walkers, based on absolutely nothing I did). I mean, I'm sure I did hold their hands while they walked. I just don't know how often. Most importantly, I don't care.

I think my main source of frustration is that I really like a lot of stuff about this philosophy (RIE) and this author (Janet Landsbury). I just wish that parenting philosophies would model what they preach a little more. Like if you want parents to trust themselves or their kids a little more, then show the parents what it feels like to be trusted! Support them, guide them. Just don't show them how, step by step. Or worse, HOLD THEIR HANDS WHILE THEY TRY TO TAKE THOSE STEPS. Because that would totally corrupt the process, amiright?
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