Am I becoming a helicopter parent?

We took my daughter to a Halloween party yesterday. She was so excited to put her costume (Minnie Mouse – her choice) on. She was especially excited to see cupcakes at the party (she ate all the frosting, and one bit of the cake part). She was even excited to see all the costumes the other kids were wearing.

The one thing she seemed uninterested in was playing with the other kids.

She goes to a daycare with two other kids, whom she loves playing with. I would even say she may be more outgoing (and aggressive, but not in a bad way) than the other kids.

But at the party, she insisted she was “a little shy” and didn’t want to run around and shout and dance with the other kids. Some of the kids were a little older, so maybe it was a bit understandable. But there were also a lot of kids her age. Still, she was “a little shy.”

Then something else happened that made me start to worry…

I saw a group of kids dancing around at the party. She had been having fun dancing with us the whole weekend. I asked her, “do you want to go dance?” I thought I said, “.. with the other kids,” but maybe I didn’t.

My daughter said, “yes,” then grabbed my hand and said, “come on, daddy!”

“Don’t you wanna go dance with the other kids, sweetie?” I asked. “No, wanna dance with daddy,” is the response I got.

Now, we’ve always let her try things like running and climbing, etc. when she was younger. But it made us feel better that we were nearby to keep her from seriously injuring herself. But we were first time parents, so it was a little understandable, right?

So, here I am, struggling between not wanting her to feel neglected and wanting her to develop the ability to play on her own, without needing our involvement. It seems as if, when we are around, she wants us involved in whatever she does.

You see, she isn’t really that shy. It may take her a little bit to warm up to people, but she always does. And usually, quite quickly. I think she may just become to used to us being around and being involved.

And that’s why I am afraid we are turning into helicopter parents. Or maybe we’ve created a need in her for us to be helicopter parents.

It isn’t what we intended at all. Both of our families have a long line of very strong, very independant women. That’s they way we intend to raise our daughter.

Maybe I am worrying prematurely. She is only 27 months old. Maybe now we need to step back on the playground, letting her learn through success and failure. After all, while we still feel sad for her when she gets a bruise or a scape, we worry a little less about it. Maybe now we need to encourage her to do things we know she loves when we need to make dinner; like looking through a book, or drawing with crayons, or putting her stuffed toys to bed.

She’s young. She’s strong. I think she can handle it.

I’m not sure I can.

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10 Responses to Am I becoming a helicopter parent?

  1. abba-daddy says:

    I always thought that when you start counting in years, I will be able to let go, bullshit it doesn’t happen. It does but only on the outside.
    I have 2 girls. one almost 4 years, and one almost 4 months.
    I am a proud protective father ( I almost hit a kids who played and by accident slammed into her at the playground), and the need to let them go but at the same time helecopterize them is who I am.

    for a very long time she couldn’t play by her self. she couldn’t be in her room by her self always wanting one of us near her. till today she can’t sleep by herself. one of us always have to be with her.
    but u know what – u r who u r and you will learn to let go. or not

    sorry for the long comment – it’s my 1st time here and I like it.

  2. aalize says:

    You are doing everything right dumbass (oops)! She’s only 2 after all. My first daughter was extremely shy when she was that age but when she turned 3 she became very brave and outgoing. They don’t have all the language and life skills to deal with EVERYTHING just because they seem quite confident and of a certain age or other kids are doing more. I dont know why we expect all little people to behave the same when not all adults do (but with adults we respect that – go figure).

    Put yourself in her shoes, are you shy around large crowds, does it take you a while to warm up to a party and strangers (personaly parties where I know no one and feel forced to mingle always leaves me with a whopping headache). I don’t know why western culture is always aiming to push our kids into independence and ‘be social already!’ the minute they emerge from the womb, and then are made to feel guilty – GUILTY for goodness sakes – for being there for them, for caring.

    There’ll come a time when she doesn’t want you around and then you’ll know you’ve done your job well. Until then, make a noise, helicopter around all you like and be confident knowing you’re the best dad a girl could have. Seriously!!

    I hope I haven’t chewed your ear off but I am a helicopter parent myself and feel very passsionately about the fact that parents are made to feel guilty for every little blooming thing (some people even try to make me feel guilty for breastfeeding my 19month old, geepers)!
    Trust yourself and your instincts!!! I’ve been reading you for a while now and trust me, you’re a fantastic dad and you’re doing it all right. :)

  3. Ivory says:

    There’s helicopter and then there’s helicopter.

    I teach at a college and we just had our open house for incoming freshmen. It was full of the malignant kind of helicopter parent – the kind that overshadow their kids and ask all the questions and decide for their kids what career they will have (my child wants to be a doctor! etc.) Ask the kids what they want and they give you blank stares.

    If your daughter uses you as a launching pad, that’s fine. She’s 2. If she is still depending on you for more than a gentle nudge after the age of about 14, then you have a problem.

  4. Kaz says:

    Hey, everyone – thanks for the great comments! If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you know that I tend to worry too much about a lot of things.

    I guess I wrote about this event kind of as an eye opener to myself. Maybe it isn’t so bad, especially at my daughter’s age, to hover a bit. Knowing the extent of my hovering is probably key in learning to strike the right balance between hovering and letting go (whatever that balance may be).

    My daughter is so strong-willed, that I have no doubt that she will become a strong girl and strong woman one day.

    Plus, having her learn to play on her own not only benefits her, but it benefits Ms. Kaz and me, as well!

    ps – thanks and welcome to all the first time commenters and first time visitors, as well!

  5. ceridwen-sky says:

    Come here Kaz, let me be the first to pinch your cheeks… You’re such a sweetie! :)

  6. HDC says:

    My now four year old neice used to be quite apprehensive of strangers and even unfamiliar new kids. She was even scared of my husband and would take a few days to open up with him when ever he would visit. Then one day about a year or so ago she told her mom ” I am not going to be afraid of people anymore. Not even Nini-mama (my husband).” And she wasn’t. She’s totally outgoing now. Kids can really surprise you sometimes.

  7. L.A. Daddy says:

    Our little one is pretty brave. She goes to daycare and pretty much rules the roost — when she arrives, it’s like Norm coming in to the CHEERS bar.

    But, when she gets out of that routine, the familiar, she can be tentative and shy. You’re probably in the same boat. She’ll be as strong and independent as you want her and let her be.

    Knowing that you’ve got her back, she’ll be very confident.

    Maybe even be a helicopter pilot :)

  8. amy rhyder says:

    would you rather she jumped right in and forgot all about you?she needs to see you there and as the years go by your presence will be there inside to guide her. without you hovering how will she miss you when you fly away?

  9. Susannah says:

    Oh my goodness! Please don’t push her out of the nest yet! She’s only 2! Go and dance with your daughter, enjoy her childhood, and have a good, guilt-free time.

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