I was once a helicopter parent. There I was at the playground, hovering, deeming the slide too high, the sand box too dirty, and the other tots just a bit too aggressive.
When my kids grew older and entered grade school, I learned there’s a whole new level of hovering possible: arguing about grades, challenging class assignments, questioning any perceived slight by a teacher. I didn’t want to be “that” mom. I vowed to keep my helicopter days behind me.
But I’ve realized “not hovering” does not mean “disengaging.” I remember two years ago my son casually mentioned one evening that he had to sit out an entire recess for “time owed;” my husband and I were concerned. I debated not doing anything—what with my self-professed commitment to ground my helicopter ways and all. But because when pressed, my son acted clueless about what he’d done, I decided to send a note to his teacher asking if she could elaborate on his offense so that we could talk with him about it.
There was, as we suspected, much more to the incident than our son had let on. (In a nutshell, his offense that day—getting out of line and clowning around in the hallway—was the final straw in a build-up of disrespectful behavior; he’d been calling out answers, correcting his teacher, and even rolling his eyes at her. Ouch.) My note had opened an important line of communication with his fantastic yet increasingly frustrated teacher. His father and I worked with him at home to help reinforce better behavior in the classroom. His teacher worked with us, letting us know how he was doing.
This year my daughter has that same teacher for her reading class, and homework started to overwhelm her. Again not want to be “that parent,” I held my tongue and didn’t intervene (stupid, I know) till the built-up stress on my second-grader simply overwhelmed her and emotions crashed down. My daughter was miserable and started hating school. The teacher was incredulous (and a bit hurt) that I, of all people, had remained silent while the problem brewed. She said, “We had great communication with your son. What happened?”
Too much attention on all those negatives of helicopter parenting, I think. In two years’ time, I forgot that we are our children’s first and most important advocates. When things aren’t going well at school, it’s our role, especially in their younger years, to help them communicate with their teachers effectively. Lesson learned (this time, I hope).