I’ll be real here. I’m the mother of four kids and I’m a lazy parent. Not lazy in that I don’t have continual tasks all day, but lazy in that I mostly ignore my children.
How to Handle Helicopter Parents
I don’t get down and play with them often unless I’m enjoying myself, I don’t help them up and down things at the playground and I certainly don’t tell them how to play with toys or playground equipment. The reason I’m a lazy parent is two-fold, One: because I don’t particularly enjoy playing with my kids. Before you come with the pitchforks and the “if you don’t like kids, why did you have them?” talk, I do enjoy the company of my children. Part two is that I think they develop a much more inventive and independent personality if an adult isn’t down their throats all the time. Being a lazy parent is awesome, and it’s the best way I can be happy and be a good parent. I’m not here to defend my parenting style.
What’s the problem then, you ask? Mostly other parents who disagree. I can’t count how many times I’ve been silently or openly judged for letting my kids go free-range. Do my kids get hurt? Yes, of course. Do kids learn from getting hurt and making mistakes? You bet! In a controlled environment, a kid falling and scraping their knee has way more benefits than risks. They learn natural consequences and that they can dust themselves off and try again (thanks Beyoncé). So if you want to join me in lazy parenting, how do you handle the helicopter parents? Here’s a few tips:
1. Let them do their thing.
If they feel the need to coddle their children, that’s their prerogative. They’ll deal with the child. I don’t judge other parents because it’s hard, and we are all doing what we think is best.
2. If another parent starts to help my child do something I know they can do, or something that’s developmentally beyond their level, I ask them politely to stop.
“Hey, could you not help my kid” is my go-to. They usually give me a nasty glare, but I brush it off. I don’t have time to be worried about what another parent at the park thinks of me. If they say anything, which is uncommon, it’s usually something like “I thought they were going to get hurt!” To which I respond, “that’s okay, maybe they’ll learn not to do that again.” Another common comment is “but they were asking for help” and I say “yes they were, but don’t you think it’ll empower them to do it without help and they’ll learn that they are capable?” It comes down to how well you know your kid and the environment.
3. Every once in a while, I encounter another parent who has such a problem with me and mine that they feel the need to publicly shame me.
They'll yell across the playground, “don’t you see what your child is doing??” for something completely harmless. Or people at the grocery store or random strangers walking by commenting on my children, they’re going to get hurt or that they look cold. These folks I put in their place. Depending on my mood I’ll either shut them down with a comment like “why don’t you tell them to sit down in the shopping cart because maybe they’ll listen to you” or “maybe if they fall and get hurt they’ll learn their lesson” but on bad parenting days where I’m at the end of my rope, I’ll hold my kid out and say “you take it! If you think you can do a better job!” The looks I get with that one are priceless.
Parenting is hard. Emotionally and physically. We all are doing what we think is best. I try not to judge others, one because I don’t have time for that kind of negativity in my life, and two because I know how it feels to be judged. I love my village because we are all different kinds of parents but we all co-exist without shaming and finding fault. Parenting isn’t a competition, and that’s coming from one of the world’s most competitive people. Don’t change yourself to appease the masses. You do you, my beautiful friend.