Monday, November 9, 2015


It's my understanding that Helicopter Parenting is taking quite a hit on the blogs. Some young parents are under the impression  that all that hovering and obsessing is detrimental to a child's development. Free-Ranging is the way to go, they say. I tend to agree if we're talking about chickens.

When I was a child, there was no such thing as Free-Range Parenting. In those days, it was simply referred to as "parenting." (Actually, that's not true, since turning nouns into verbs wasn't a big thing in the 50's.) My generation was raised to run wild in the streets of suburbia, doing just as we pleased as long as we were home in time for dinner. We were brought up tough..forced to write our own book reports, to suck it up when we didn't make the team, to get our hair done in our mothers' kitchen, and to devour all sorts of chemical compounds. Basically, once we were old enough to leave the whelping box, our parents moved on with their lives, leaving us to fend for ourselves at malls and slumber parties and cheerleading try-outs. It's no wonder my generation invented Helicopter Parenting!

When I look back on my childhood, I have to wonder how much better it would have been had my parents been Helicopter-ites. I envision them hovering, making sure that my first-grade picture was re-taken so as not to display my dead tooth. In my fantasies, they earn all my girl scout badges for me, and sign me up for tap, ballet, and basic cheerleading, because they know what's best for them me. I like to dream about parents who put effort into building up my self-esteem. As it stands, I don't have a single trophy to my name. Who's to blame for that? Not me. I "tried my best," as my parents would lazily remind me. Had they been Helicoper-ites, you better believe I would have a box in the attic filled to the brim with participation trophies.

This is why I was a Helicopter Parent. Of course, I still am, because you never outgrow that sort of thing. However, your child does and tends to put an end to THAT nonsense right quick. Oh, they still accept the cash handouts and aren't adverse to free dinners or use of your washer and dryer. But, you are no longer permitted to hang out in the parking lot at their job to make sure they aren't being bullied by the other employees. Also, they consider it bad form for you to visit their supervisor to ask if there are any extra-credit options they can do to get that raise. God forbid you try to organize a workplace Donuts With Dads Day.

I don't know the original helicopter mommy but would love to meet her. Life, this mother noted, is always one terrifying moment away from disaster. This mother saw to it that our children were kept safe from household dangers. The first thing every pregnant couple of reputable upbringing does nowadays is to go to Target to buy those white things you put in electric outlets to prevent baby from crawling to and inserting a metal knife into the socket, thus dying of electrocution. A quick perusal of the CDC website reveals that childhood deaths via electric socket are not even in the top 200, nowadays.  Good job, original helicopter mom!
Currently, helicopter parents are working on getting legislation passed to force college dorms to install outlet covers as children never do outgrow the desire to stick their finger in those things.

If baby survives the first few years (thanks be to safety gates, toilet lid locks, faucet and stove handle grips, and the ever-present baby monitor) it's time to move on to other issues - intellectual and social stimulation. Left to their own devices, toddlers are no better than the children of apes. Fortunately, the inventor of helicopter parenting understood that we could not sit idly by and let our two-year olds carry on entire conversations with inanimate objects or pretend to read an upside-down book if we expected them to excel in their pre-school testing. No. The well-rounded toddler is "scheduled." Thus, the invention of the family calendar.

I don't know if it was the original helicopter mom who invented the family calendar, but I do know this is where I was a major flop. When you entered any well-parented family home in the 80's, and 90's, the first thing that caught your eye was the family calendar prominently displayed for public viewing. The best were color-coordinated to acknowledge each individual family member. The worst, like mine, were usually months behind. Imagine my shame when the best-scheduled mother in the PTA entered my home to find my calendar boasting a Christmas motif in mid-May.

Understand, the well-scheduled child is the future successful adult! I don't know about you, but I'm not about to vote someone into elected office who can't prove they participated in at least one sport a season plus played a musical instrument all the way through middle school. Be warned. This is where the hovering gets tough as you will be competing with dozens of other helicopter parents, so mid-air collisions are common. But get right back in the bleachers to cheer your child on as loudly as possible, even if they are sitting on the bench. Your child's performance is being judged by how enthusiastic you are, so don't hold back. Pro tip: if you are at a band or choral concert, it's best to chat it up with the popular moms while the less talented are performing so that your child shines noticeably brighter on the stage due to the suddenly diminished background noise.

I can't say enough about the importance of social interaction for the well-helicoptered child. Parents? Please don't allow your children to choose their own friends. There are plenty of popular children to select from, so don't let your children settle for someone "nice." Getting your child on the list for the best parties is a must. None of those D-Lister events at Chucky Cheese for your future superstar! Destination parties are de rigueur. These involve limo rides to the country club where the partiers are greeted by the staff dressed in costume and treated to a disc jockey, an open bar that serves fizzy drinks, and a celebrity flown in to sing Happy Birthday as the birthday boy or girl has a meltdown because they've missed their nap.
Our children need to be taught early that we are here to please and serve.

As for education, please remember one strong and fast rule: YOU PAY The TEACHER'S SALARY! Don't be afraid to call the principal on a regular basis to complain if you don't feel you are getting top notch service. If your child gets a C- for that Science Fair project you did for them, don't take that lying down. How is your child going to learn to treat disappointment with outrage if you don't demonstrate this for them?

Finally, the day comes when you graduate from 8th grade and begin the most exciting years of your life...high school! Don't be nervous about the size of the building or the glib attitude of the teachers. You can do this! Though most high schools frown upon you organizing your child's locker and peaking in classroom doors to give your son or daughter a supportive wave, there are still activities open to you. Sneak in the gym for pep rallies and sing the fight song loud and proud, visit the counselor's office regularly to discuss the best strategy to getting your child into a boast-worthy college, and, finally, in your final act as a helicopter parent - fill out their college application and write their essays. But, before your graduation day, be sure to organize and participate in a Mom Prom! What better way to insert yourself into your child's life in a way they could never imagine in their wildest dreams?

The next thing you know, that little one you've hovered over for 18 years is off to live in a dorm at Harvard, or, as the case may be, some small liberal-arts college in the heartland. There is nothing left to do, at this point, but to store your rotor blades in the attic and start drinking boxed wine. Trust in yourself. If you've done your job correctly, your child will be moving back home in the blink of an eye!  Besides, you need to rest up for the grandchildren. Heli-Grannies are now all the rage!


  1. Very clever! And true about how our parent left us alone, for good or ill.

    1. Thank you, Norman! It looks like we survived. :)

  2. Nice, Susie.

    I too am an example of that which you write about. What I am thankful for was that I was invited and welcomed, most invasively, into both my boy's developmental lives. So much so that it allowed me to truly see their dreams and talents enough to nurture memories and experiences that influenced, in some way, whom they are today and what they strive to be.

  3. But, Neil, did you throw them a destination birthday party? ;) Being supportive and proud and of our kids, or even supportive and disappointed when they make bad choices isn't helicopter parenting. That's parenting.

    BTW, this was written for humor, I think that helicopter, free-range, crunchy, and tiger-parents all love their children the same. The good news is, our kids are going to find reason to gripe about us in their adult years no matter what we did. So do what works for you! :)

  4. Good writing Susie. Hehe. I know an awful lot of these types of parents. Maybe thier kids will go back to the old fashioned ways of letting the kids find who they are, not who we parents want them to be.
    We turned ok from the ignored generation!

  5. Hi Zsus! I just bookmarked your blog. Lovely to see you!

  6. Coming here to wish you a merry Christmas. Still not on facebook so this will have to do!