I’m a Negligent Helicopter Parent

Welcome to the February 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Fears

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about parenting fears.

Every parent knows about fear, right? Our one big job is to get our kids safely to adulthood, and good grief it’s a big scary world out there when you’re imagining your tiny baby out in it.

Helicopter Parent?

So as the parent of a toddler, it makes complete sense to me to be a helicopter parent. I mean, Wikipedia says a helicopter parent “pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems”. Um… don’t all parents do that?

I guess the key is the word “extremely”. What is “extremely”?

Not only am I the parent of a toddler, I’m a parent with anxiety. So, yeah, I kind of hover over my toddler. I am hyper aware of where he is at all times, and I’m constantly on the lookout for dangers.

I’m also a parent with depression. One way my anxiety and depression play off of each other is this: because of my depressive episodes, I’m not as interactive with Dylan as I’d like to be. That means I get really anxious about whether or not he’s being stimulated enough and having an enriching enough experience. Sometimes I micromanage his time in order to work in all the different learning categories I think he should be exposed to.

Negligent Parent?

If you were to see us in person you might think I was a negligent parent. That’s because I’m NOT afraid of many of the things that other parents are.

Dylan runs up and down the stairs completely unattended, because I know that he’s very proficient at the stairs.

He gets very sporadic baths, because I’m not really that concerned with overall cleanliness.

Sometimes he’s out in the cold without a lot of clothes on, because he’s old enough to let me know if he’s cold, and he doesn’t really like wearing a lot of clothes.

I really value independence, and part of that enriching experience I want Dylan to have is the experience of being trusted to go out and explore the world.

On our little 2ish acre homestead, sometimes it might look to the neighbors like my toddler is roaming the place alone, when the truth is I’m hanging back lurking around corners so that Dylan thinks he’s exploring alone but I’m satisfying my helicopter-y tendencies.

Fear Is Personal

Yes, fear is probably a universal parental burden, but how that fear manifests is intensely personal. Who knows where all the little details of our parenting baggage come from? [pullquote]Fear is a universal parental burden, but how that fear manifests is intensely personal. {Tweet this.}[/pullquote]

Why am I hyper-concerned with “enrichment activities” but not at all with Dylan being well dressed or well-bathed? Why does another parent excel at feeding nutritious meals and banishing all germs but doesn’t own any puzzles or books?

It is difficult and pointless to compare myself to other parents. My experience can’t tell me about their fears and their experience can’t teach them about my fears.

Knowing that fear is personal reminds me that I can’t look to “reality” for an objective right or wrong.

There’s no magic number of educational toys a child should have around for optimal brain development.

There’s no perfect amount of cleaning that kills the most germs while leaving enough time for the rest of life.

There’s no ideal number of minutes a child should have independent play versus one-on-one parent time versus group play with other children.

We can only do what we think is right while attempting to find balance.

I’m reminded to be compassionate when another parent makes a different risk assessment and makes a different decision about something that I fear.

It’s all personal. It’s so, so personal.

As personal as it is, fear itself is something we’re all doing together.

What is something you’re afraid of or something you stress about that you know other people don’t take so seriously?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • When Parents’ Fears Escalate — If we didn’t self-doubt, we probably wouldn’t care enough about our children to struggle with understanding them. But how do we overcome self-doubt? Read advice from Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., guest posting today at Natural Parents Network.
  • What ifs of addiction — After seeing how addictions of adult children is badly hurting a family close to her heart, Hannah at HannahandHorn shares her fears for her own child.
  • Sharing My Joy — Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares her fear that others think she is judgmental because she makes alternative choices for her own family.
  • Building My Tribe Fearlessly — A meteorite hit Jaye Anne at Tribal Mama’s family when she was seven years old. Read the story, how she feels about that now, and how she is building her tribe fearlessly.
  • Fear: Realized — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen shares how her fear of car accidents was realized and how she hopes to be able to use her efforts to overcome the remaining fears to help her children overcome their own.
  • I’m a Negligent Helicopter Parent — For Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow, the line between helicopter parenting and negligent parenting is not so cut and dried.
  • My Greatest Fear For My Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama admits that she has struggled with not allowing her fears to control her and how the reality of this was blown wide open when she became a mother.
  • Proactive Steps to Calm Parenting Fears — Every parent has certain fears related to dangerous situations, That Mama Gretchen shares ways she is preparing herself and her children for emergencies.
  • Homeschooling Fears – Will My Children Regret Being Homeschooled? — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares an interview with her now-adult children that answers a question she had throughout their homeschooling.
  • An Uneasy Truce — Homeschooler and recent convert to unschooling, Tam at tinsenpup shares just a few of the things she tries to keep in mind when fear and insecurity begin to take hold.
  • Fearing the worst, expecting the best — Tarana at Sand In My Toes writes about fears that come with parenting, and why we must overcome them.
  • Can I be the parent I want to be? — Amanda at Postilius confronts her struggle to peacefully parent a preschooler
  • Out of Mind, Out of Fear — How does Jorje of Momma Jorje deal with her pretty steep, long-term fears regarding her son’s future?
  • I Don’t Homeschool to Manage My Kids’ Transcripts — One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s fears of parenting is that she will get so caught up in the monotony, the details of homeschooling, the minutiae of everyday life, the routine of taking care of a household – that she will forget to actually be present in the moment with her children.
  • Beware! Single Mom Camping — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her first adventures as a single mom. She laughed, she cried, she faced her fears.
  • Parenting Fears And Reality Checks — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares her three biggest fears as a parent – that most parents share – looks at the reality behind these fears, and offers a few suggestions for enjoying parenting.
  • Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit…Mother Goutte tells us the story of a pink rabbit that disappeared, came back, and became the symbol of her worst parenting fear…
  • Roamingsustainablemum considers whether allowing your children freedom to explore the world safely is harder now than in the past.
  • Meeting my parenting fears head-on — Lauren at Hobo Mama had many fears before she became a parent. Learn how they all came true — and weren’t anywhere near as scary as she’d thought.
  • Don’t fear the tears — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger worried that letting her children cry when going to sleep was tantamount to the dreaded parenting moniker, CIO. She discusses what actually happened after those teary nights, and how she hopes these lessons can carry forward to future parenting opportunities.
  • Will I Still be a Good Mom? — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot worries about her mothering skills now that breastfeeding is no longer the top priority.
  • Pregnancy Fears: It Happened to My Sisters, It Will Happen to Me… — Kristen at Country Fit Family discusses the difficulties with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding that the women in her family have had and how she overcame them.
  • Fears — Meegs at A New Day talks about how her fears before parenting led to a better understanding of herself and her desires for her daughter.
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