A few years back I was sitting in the lecture theatre listening to our lecturer talk about parents. As a primary school teacher, we would encounter many different types of parents – they used analogies such as ‘bubble wrap parents’, referring to those who are too overprotective; ‘lawn mower’ parents, which are those who would ‘mow down’ others who stood in the way of their child’s success and happiness; and ‘helicopter’ parents, the ones that ‘hover’ over their children. We all laughed at these analogies – one, because they conjure up hilarious mental images, and two, they just seem outright ridiculous. It was pretty clear from that lecture that you wanted to stay away from these sorts of parents.
Am I a Helicopter Parent?
Fast-forward a couple of years to the present day, where I am the mum of a beautiful 4-month-old boy. We recently moved our son to the cot in his own room at nighttime (as he’s getting too big for the bassinet). I expressed my sadness over this to a friend who quickly remarked, “Oh, you’re going to be a helicopter parent are you?” At the time I brushed off the comment, as I knew it was made in jest, but I’ve since been pondering about it. I remember this term being used in a derogatory fashion to describe overprotective and over-involved parents. I was a little bit offended, a little bit proud, but mostly I was concerned.
surely as a first time mum, I am allowed to have some sort of anxiety or worry, or just want to be close to my child. Is that not a normal feeling to have?
Why was it a bad thing to want to have my child close to me at night time? Why couldn’t I express a little sadness at another example of my little baby growing up? Why would I be classified as ‘hovering’ over him because I wanted my young boy near me? Why is it, especially as a first-time mum, that people jump at the opportunity to point out that I need to relax, worry less, move on?
I know I suffer from some sort of anxiety. I haven’t been diagnosed, but I know my anxiety levels are higher than most average people. I know I worry about things too much. I know I overthink things, and I stress about ridiculous situations (like where am I going to park when I go somewhere new?). But surely as a first time mum, I am allowed to have some sort of anxiety or worry, or just want to be close to my child. Is that not a normal feeling to have?
When we were introduced to the term ‘helicopter’ parents in that lecture room several years ago, it referred to parents who do not allow their child the space to explore situations independently. Maybe those parents who hover around their children at birthday parties, social gatherings, or play dates (not that I would judge those parents – I haven’t gotten to that stage yet! I may be one of those parents…). However surely when you have a 4-month-old baby, it is kind of your job to hover and make sure they’re okay? I thought that was what my life was basically all about right now? So why is it assumed that because I am fussing over my baby that I am worrying too much about them? I know I’ve been throwing a lot of rhetorical questions around, but heck, I feel like that is part of motherhood (constantly questioning EVERYTHING!).
Just a Mum Who Loves Her Son
As I sit here at a quarter past 1 in the morning, cuddling and feeding my boy before putting him back to sleep, I realise that I’m not a ‘helicopter’ parent. I’m just a mum who loves her son so freaking much. I love him so much I want to be close to him, so that when he wakes up upset in the middle of the night I can quickly soothe him. I love him so much that when we are out at a social gathering and he starts crying in the arms of someone else, I want to make sure that he’s okay. I love him so much that when he’s awake I want to spend as much time with him as possible because he makes me laugh and smile. That has nothing to do with anxiety. It has everything to do with loving and caring for my son. When did caring as a parent become a derogatory thing?
If caring too much about your child means I’m a ‘helicopter’ parent, then so be it. I’ll wear the label loud and proud if it means that I get to be close to my boy.
Fi has also recently started her own small business called ‘Starfish Creations’ whilst running her own blog to document her life with her little Starfish.
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